Tuesday, April 28, 2009

First Fishing Trip, Big Weekend Fun

Whew...I need a weekend to recover from our weekend!!

Friday night we took Daniel out fishing for the first time on the boat. We went to a small lake close to home and gave Daniel his small fishing pole. As you will see in the photos, he preferred a bigger pole, my pole to be exact! When we got the first bite I let go of the pole so he could feel the fish, prepared to jump overboard after my rod, (I love that rod!) and told him to reel like crazy. He did!! The rod stayed securely in his hand and he reeled and reeled! He was excited to see the fish when it came up! He touched the smaller fish we caught but when Papa caught a larger bass, he wouldn't have anything to do with it. We'll have to work on that!

Saturday we took off to visit Troy's parents, Granny and Grandpa. Grandpa took Daniel riding on the tractor and Daniel started calling their house a "farm". He had a blast.

Then Troy and I took off for Smith Mountain Lake to do some night fishing for stripers. This was a big deal for two reasons. The first was the fact that this was like our second date night in a year and second because for the first time ever since we've been home (over a year now) someone else put Daniel to bed besides myself or Troy.

Granny was more than happy to oblige and Daniel, little stinker that he is, actually laid in the big bed and went to sleep with her. I've tried the big bed with Daniel and I get feet in my face, hands in my ears, arms in my back, you get the picture! Well, Granny is one special lady!!
Actually I thought of a third reason this night fishing trip was a big deal...I stayed up past midnight. I didn't even make it to midnight on New Years. You surely can tell how much I like fishing now, right?!?!

Troy and I boated 6 stripers and 1 channel catfish. We kept the catfish and 3 stripers for eating and gave the filets to Troy's parents. We had a blast. Troy caught all but one. I let him win this round (HA!).

Enjoy the photos, while I recover from the weekend!!
Reeling in the big one!

Touching my first fish!

Tractor Ride with Grandpa on the "farm"!

Hooking up the motorcycle to the boat!

Troy holding the fish I "let" him catch!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Daniel's Medical Update (Long)

I need to start off with a very big thank you. So many of you have been praying for Daniel and also for Troy and I. I can't even begin to express the gratitude I have for those prayers. To my friends, my family, my co-workers, my fellow bloggers (who I also consider my friends) thank you from the bottom of my heart for your prayers.

THEY ARE WORKING!! While we are not completely out of the woods, we are getting there. Read on...

Yesterday Daniel had his follow up tests at the hospital. This particular test was one we had not done before and I was a little worried. I shouldn't have been. Daniel was a trooper. My mom accompanied me yesterday because Troy was unable to come. My mom has been such a help to me, I can't thank her enough either. She's so organized and helpful. She brings special toys for Daniel in her purse, she brings drinks and snacks in her bag for Daniel and for me, because she knows I won't eat in the morning. She reminds me when it time to eat because I get frazzled when I'm there, she asks the doctors all the questions, I can’t wrap the words around, when I'm trying to watch Daniel and at the same time listen to all the medical terms and she entertains Daniel in the small waiting rooms so I can relax. What would I do without her?

The first lady we ran in to in the waiting room had a three year old daughter, a nine month old son and was very pregnant. We chattered and finally my mom commented on her son's bright red hair and how adorable it was. She looked a little sheepish and then admitted that he was a foster child that they were hoping to adopt in the next few months. I immediately told her how wonderful it was and then told her I had to admit a little secret of my own. I told her about Daniel's adoption and we had such a nice time chatting about adoption in general.

Once they called us back my mom went to a special waiting room and I went in to the room where the test would be done with Daniel. Once I had him undressed he looked at me and said "Mommy, I need to pee". So I wrapped in a towel and took him down the hall to the potty and he peed!! We went back to the room and we were getting ready to start and he says "Mommy, I need to go poopy." I wrapped him again and he went! I was starting to think he wanted out of the tests but I was so thrilled because yesterday was the first time he really told me he needed to go on his own!!

Once we settled in they had to insert a cathedar (no fun) and then connect a bunch of tubes and also put a bunch of sensors (sticky ones) on all the muscles of the bladder around his pelvic area. Once that was done, the table lifted up slowly and dropped him on to what looks like a regular potty but has a measuring cup in the bottom. Once we got him settled on the potty and I was all wrapped up in a lead gown, I got to squat next to him and hold one hand. He stayed pretty still, especially for his age and did great. He cried a little when they started filling his bladder because it's a cold sensation and suddenly he looked at me and said again "Mommy, I need to pee". The doctor said that was good but to try to hold it so I told Daniel "to try to stop it" and he said so sweet "Okay Mommy, I stop it". Finally the doctor said he could go ahead and pee and I was so proud of my baby. He looked at me and I said "you can go pee pee now" and he peed to beat the band. I was so proud! All I could say was "M&M, M&M, a whole bag of M&Ms!!" Even the doctor was laughing at me!!

Then we were done. The tubes came out. The doctor said he would take the results right over to the urologist and the nurse walked us out. Suddenly she stopped when we reached my mom and she said, "I just have to give you a hug". So I hugged her and thanked her for her help and she said "I just wanted to tell you that my husband was adopted and his parents are wonderful. I think what you've done by bringing Daniel home is so special." I thanked her again and was so happy to have so much support on this day, first with the lady in the waiting room, and now the nurse.

Once we were able to talk to the doctor, the results were way better than I expected because I spent so much time researching the worst so I could be prepared not to fall apart at the office.

The results are:

1. The reflux is gone. G-O-N-E! I bounced in my chair. This means his kidney which had been so swollen for long, can finally start to heal!!

2. His bladder looks no worse and even looks a "shade" (the doctor's words) BETTER!! It is starting to shrink!!

3. His bladder is not as strong as they like to see...YET. Apparently he is still not emptying all the way. Most people empty to only 5 cc's left and he emptied to about 25 cc's or a little shy of 1 ounce.

4. At this point he may just GROW RIGHT OUT OF IT!! Or in other words GROW RIGHT INTO HIS BLADDER!!

There is still a small possibility it is neurological. Last time we went, the doctor explained that occasionally and actually rarely they will see a child with no neurological problems except the one small misfire leading to the bladder that causes this similar situation. In Daniel's case, he has no other neurological problems, so they don't expect to find anything, but they do want to do an MRI of his spine. Basically they are looking for corded nerves in the spine that could cause a weaker bladder. If they find that, it can be fixed at a young age. But if we don't check, it can become worse or unfixable when he's older. So of course, we are going to do the MRI. That's next and we are waiting for that appointment date to come in the mail. Also they want to do another sonogram to measure the left kidney to see how it is doing since it can heal now.

That being said the doctor looked at Daniel's spine thoroughly on the outside and said he saw nothing abnormal and really felt like they wouldn't find anything at all with the MRI but felt that we needed to rule it out also, which I agree.

So now we wait for the appointment for the MRI and sonogram. We'll be praying for continued healing of the kidney, the bladder and for the nerves to be just fine.

I am so excited. I know there is a possibility we aren't done yet, but I know God is healing Daniel and I know He is listening to all our and your prayers. Thank you so much!!

Oh – we got the MMR shot yesterday afternoon. Last shot until kindergarten age, what a relief for me – they are finally over!! Yesterday was a great day in my book!!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Daniel's follow up appointment for his urinary reflux/bladder issues was rescheduled from April 15th to tomorrow. Last Thursday I checked the mail and had received papers for his follow ups to be June 17th. I called Friday morning in the hopes of finding a cancellation sooner, not wanting to wait that long, but not really expecting anything, and low and behold Monday morning I got a call asking if we wanted to come this Wednesday as they had had a cancellation. I jumped right on it and so we go tomorrow.

Tomorrow is urodynamic testing. The good news is that Daniel does not have to be sedated, but they will have to put a cathedar in and then they will put on little sensor patches around his pelvic area to measure muscle tension. They will fill his bladder and then he will use the potty. The sensors will tell us what is going on and hopefully we will get some answers about his bladder.

Please pray for good results. If the results aren't what we are hoping for we have discussed getting a second opinion before we endure further surgeries. We are considering John Hopkin's in Baltimore and also Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. We're open to others on the east coast if anyone has any recommendations. I just don't want to question later if we did all that we could do for him.

Also tomorrow afternoon he gets his last immunization. He's been on a delayed schedule and the dreaded MMR shot is tomorrow afternoon. I've been dreading the MMR shot due to all the fuss over whether or not it can cause autism. I'm sure Daniel will be fine, but I just overworry. I hate putting him through all that in one day, but at least the shots will be done until he's school age.

Please pray for good results tomorrow, for Daniel to be brave (he usually is!) and for my nerves tomorrow for the procedures and the shot in the afternoon. Troy could go on and on about how I worry over everything, which is why I don't let him post on the blog!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter Update and One Year!!

We hope everyone had a nice Easter!! We had a very, very busy Easter weekend. It started last Friday when I picked up my nephew who's almost 3 and a half and kept him and Daniel together for the day. My mom came over and we started working on our vegetable garden. The last few years, I've only planted tomato plants, but this year, in an effort to grow more vegetables ourselves, I wanted to expand our garden to include green beans, lettuce and onions. My mom is a great gardener so she came over to help me.

The boys had so much fun. We had to first rake all the leaves out of the garden area. We don't rake in the fall because we have so many trees and forest around us that we found ourselves re-raking everything in the spring anyway. Daniel loved jumping in to the piles of leaves!!

I even got brave and sat the boys down to color Easter eggs and then decorate them with stickers and stuff!!

The boys discovered earthworms. I discovered I could pick one up without freaking out too much. Wow, being a mom makes you do weird things. They also played and played and played while we worked! We all got nice and dirty - you should have seen the bathwater from the boys afterwards!!

Saturday my older sister Cathy and her 5 month old son Eli, picked up Daniel and I and we drove to Nashville to visit my grandmother. The last time I'd been able to go I got there only to end up at Vanderbilt having my gallbladder removed. Some of you may remember that well! I am happy to announce that I was hospital free this trip! It was a very short trip as we drove all day Saturday, visited late Saturday and all day Sunday and drove home Monday. We really wanted my grandmother to meet her great grandsons!!

On the way to Nashville, we did stop to meet Carey and her two children, one of which is also adopted from Russia. It was great to visit even if we only were able to spend a short time with them. We took lots of pictures of the kids together and even managed one of the moms! I wish we could have stayed longer to meet up with other families, but maybe next time!!

We stayed in a nice hotel with an indoor pool and I was able to take Daniel swimming twice. Daniel was so cute. He loves to jump to me and we are working on kicking and doing your arms at the same time. He is also able to go under water now. He would say "hold you breath mommy" and I would go under and then I would say "Daniel hold your breath" and dunk him under. He never came up sputtering! The cutest thing was that when I would come up he would wipe my eyes for me!

All in all it was a great trip, although way too short. Both boys did excellent in the car, although by the end they were both a little grumpy!

Here are some more photos of our very busy weekend.

Today is most importantly our anniversary for Daniel's adoption. We spent four hours in a courtroom asking to be Daniel's parents. While the length of the court process seems really long, it was relatively painless and every one was so nice to us. We had an unusual situation in that Daniel had been placed in a hospital to await our return due to a chicken pox outbreak so we had to wait for arrival of a doctor from that hospital to sign over guardianship. All in all we were exhausted when it was over a bit disappointed that we couldn't pick him up the same day, but we celebrated with peanut butter and jelly sandwhiches and barely slept, awaiting the arrival of the next morning!!

Here is an excerpt from an email I sent to my closest family and friends one year ago today!! I am sharing the email and not the post from my blog as this was much more detailed of the events and also because I wanted every one to see how kind the judge was to us. Read on...

We are proud to announce that after 4 hours of speeches (by us, the social worker, orphanage director, children's hospital doctor) and being questioned by the judge and prosecutor that we are the parents of a very active, 21 and a half month old little boy named Daniel McQuin Williams!!

Today has been very emotional and we are exhausted. We tried not to cry when the judge finally announced her decision that we had satisfied the Russian courts and we were to be Daniel's parents. She also approved our motion to waive the 10 days as I (Rachel) gave a speech and then the social worker and the orphanage director supported my motion. This means we can return to the US on the 22nd as planned.

After the judge read her decision she came down to stand before us and said she wanted to talk to us not as a judge but as a mother and grandmother. She said to love Daniel well and let him be the light of our lives. She said he would certainly bring us much joy. She said she hoped when we were older he would return the favor and care for us as we care for him. Then she congratulated us and it was done.

We were then rushed to the vital statistics office and we have a new birth certificate listing us as his parents and a formal adoption certificate. Unfortunately we are not able to pick up Daniel today as it is after 5 pm. Troy and I will be celebrating with peanut butter and jelly sandwhiches as we ate out a big lunch during a break with everyone and we are just plain exhausted.

We will pick Daniel up tomorrow in Votkinsk and then come back to Izhevsk to fly to Moscow. Wish us luck on the almost 2 hour flight. Love to all...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Demise of Elmo - A Rookie Potty Trainer Mistake

I hope someone out there finds this as funny as I did (and still do). Troy didn't find it nearly as amusing!

You see, we've been working on potty training and in an effort to promote this, Daniel has seven pairs of Elmo underwear, his favorites.

Tonight Daniel had an accident. Not just any accident, a number 2 accident. I noticed he suddenly got very still from where he was "working" on his "motorcylce", (read riding toy), and I realized what was happening. I ran as fast as I could with him to the bathroom and to give him credit, half went in the toilet, the other half remained in the underwear. I suppose you could say we're halfway there...

Once he finished up on the toilet and I removed his clothing, I helped him into the tub. Yes, I wiped, I'm not that much of a rookie!!

This is where the fun, (read chaos) ensues. I'm going to try to create the scene for you as best as I can and exactly as I remember it happening, keeping in mind this all happened in the span of about 5 seconds.

I flushed the toilet, I grabbed the Elmo underwear and turned them inside out over the ring (Daniel went back to using the ring on the potty) to let the number 2 drop into the toilet. Well, not just the number went, but the underwear themselves.

Stay with me.

I frantically reached through the ring, grabbing for the Elmo underwear crying out "Elmo" and swirling my hand as fast as they were going, or so I thought.

I missed.

They went down.

I swear it was warp speed.

My arm and hand went down as far as they could go before I realized exactly where my hands were. As I realized the futility, I jerked my arm upward and the ring came off with me. I quickly washed my hand and arm after untangling the ring from myself, sat down and...

Laughed hysterically.

Daniel thought I was a little strange.

Troy was horrified when I let him know what happened and made me get up and rush to flush all the toilets to be sure the Elmo's had had a clear passage to the unknown.

So far so good.

Waste Management, if you see a pair of 3T Elmo underwear floating around, you can keep them. Elmo has 6 more lives in our house!

Oh, Troy refuses to do a eulogy and I'm still laughing.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Potty Training, "What's That?"

Daniel is only 33 months, but we went ahead and started Daniel potty training. I've read all about (and heard from many) how boys tend to train later than girls and they are usually at least 3 years old or older before it "clicks". We also have the added concerns/trials with Daniel medical history (urinary reflux, enlarged bladder, etc. which I talked about here).

However, at out last appointment with the urologist, I specifically asked them whether or not we should even bother with potty training or if we should hold off. He told me to go ahead and move forward instead of holding him back and hopefully everything will be fine and we'll be headed in the right direction.

What prompted us to do this was the fact that Daniel's daycare sent a letter home to us a couple of weeks ago stating that Daniel had shown enough interest in the potty, even to the point of ripping off his diaper and running to the potty, that they wanted to take him and 4 or 5 other little boys about the same age and begin potty training them. First of all, Daniel ripping off his diaper and running to the potty made me laugh. At home I have to beg him to go before bath time, depending on his mood, but I assure you he has never, ever just taken off for the potty before! Second of all the twist is that they would jump right from diapers to underwear, no pull-ups in between and we were to also keep it up at home.

After considering this fully, especially given Daniel's medical condition and the fact that he is on a bladder relaxer, and going back and forth in my head and out loud to anyone in the family who would listen, I kept coming back to what the doctor said. Move forward, not backward.

So, we did it. I started Daniel in pull ups while he was home with pneumonia. We weren't under any pressure, we couldn't go anywhere, and I just wanted to introduce it, not force him to go, not be mad if he didn't go, and reward him when he did. We are now completely in underwear, except for long car rides or out shopping, although I keep close tabs on the pull ups and we run to bathrooms constantly. The verdict:

It's sortof working.

What I mean by sortof is this: If I take Daniel to the potty every 30 to 45 minutes, he goes, he stays dry and we're all happy. If I don't and Daniel's busy, he wets his underwear and pants and everything in between and keeps on playing. He could care less about being wet. So even though we've made progress the last week and barely used any diapers or pull ups (YAY!) I'm constantly in the bathroom with him. The other problem is that I don't really think he gets it. He only doesn't wet himself because we go so often. So, I'm going to slowly take the 30 minutes and turn them into 45 minutes and then 1 hour to see if he'll start notifying me when he needs to go potty. I'm beginning to believe he just isn't ready yet, but after all the work we've done, and money saved due to not buying diapers/pull ups, we might as well keep it up. And in case you're wondering we have M&Ms as a reward and stickers with a chart. While he enjoys those, so far it's not enough to warrant him stopping play and announcing the need to go to the bathroom!

Oh and he doesn't want to use his little potty anymore and he doesn't want to use the ring from the little potty seat on the big potty so now we use only the big potty and he sits all the way at the back and goes with his legs straight forward over the front. Too funny!

As for the "What's that?" (I bet you thought it had to do with the potty training, but it doesn't)!! It's just something that Daniel constantly says now. Any sound he hears, he stops, looks at me and says "What's that?" Any thing he isn't familiar with, he stops, looks at me and says "What's that?" It's very amusing and the way he says it is rather cute!

Last night he grabbed the sugar bag on the counter while I was unloading groceries and pulled it to him and hugged it. Then he looked at me and said word for word, "Mommy, I looooooveeee sugar." "I just bet you do," was all I could say while laughing.

Lately I'm also getting a lot of "Mommy, hold you" and he reaches for me. He's been putting his arm around me and kissing the top of my head when we sit together on the couch to read and treating me like I'm his baby now. It's so sweet. He's been having me carry him into day care each morning and last week he cried when I left one day. It's interesting the phases he goes through.

His latest favorite toy is a pillow. He takes pillow cases off all the pillows in the house and then wanders around carrying at least one, if not more, pillows. He then sits on it, lays of it, puts it on top of his riding toys, he even takes it to the potty with him. Just another thing I find amusing!

I'll leave you with my favorite potty training picture of Daniel – you know the one us moms plan to blow up at their wedding – well, here it is, when he used to use the little potty!! He's not really asleep, but it was entertaining while we waited!