Saturday, April 30, 2011

What I Want the World to Know About ...

... Losing a parent to cancer.

This is post #3 in a series of guest blogger posts entitled, "What I want the World to Know About ____." Want to include a post of your own? Click here to find out how.

By: Susan R.

Susan R. is a wife, mother, and teacher from Foley, Alabama. She found my blog when she and
her husband started fertility treatments in 2005. She has been a follower ever since.

We all know the "C" word...cancer! I never thought that I would have to deal with that but boy was I wrong. I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when my dad called me and said my Mom had breast cancer. That is a day I will never forget.

My parents lived in Texas and I lived in Alabama. I knew when I got that call that my life would never be the same but I never could have realized how drastically it would change over the next 12 or so years.

I was close to my Mom before diagnosis but we became closer after diagnosis. I know that sounds bad, but it is true. Something like this will wake you up and make you realize what you have and what you don't want to lose. Being that I lived over 10 hours away from my parents, I knew my mom was sick. But even thought I was an adult, I felt like if I wasn't there and didn't see her go through what she did, then she didn't have cancer. I was like a child again.

Then one November, my dad called and said if you want to see your mom alive then you better come now. She was at Baylor University Medical Center in Texas and she had a bone marrow transplant. She made it through. While in the hospital, she got her breathing tube removed and that is a sight I will never forget. I had to leave the room because I couldn't stand seeing my mom go through the pain. Cancer, right then, became a reality for me! She eventually got to leave the hospital. I came back and we celebrated that Christmas together. This is one she didn't think she would be here for. Remission was a word I didn't think we would see but we did. Not for long. It was February 2002 and the cancer was back. It didn't look good this time. It was all over. I remember my boyfriend at the time (my husband now) had visited and my mom said she was going to the Dr. right after we left because she had a cough she couldn't get rid of. I told her it was probably nothing and just a cold. Well, I was wrong. The cancer had come back and it was in her lungs. A few months later my brother called me and wanted to take family pictures before my mom's hair fell out. Well, she had my dad shave her head before she lost her hair. She wore a wig in the pictures.

A few years passed and I got married. My mom was able to be at my wedding in 2003 which I was so happy for! The cancer was still there. My mom's lungs kept on filling with fluid and she had to have them drained every couple of months. I can't even imagine how painful that must have been but I never heard her complain once.

My husband and I wanted to start a family. We had to go through fertility and I was just praying we would get pregnant and have a child before my mom passed which we all knew was coming. Well, that didn't happen. We were going through all the visits to the fertility specialist and we got the call that we needed to come to Texas ASAP because they put my mom in the hospital.

I remember that date, July 17, 2006. I had talked to my Mom on July 15, 2006 and told her that we bought a new car. We were on the way to my in-laws and I told her I would call her back. I didn't and she went into the hospital 2 days later. We had to wait a week before we could go to Texas. We also decided to put all fertility treatments on hold. I couldn't deal with that too. We got to Texas on July 26 (my anniversary) and went straight to the hospital. My dad was there almost 24/7 but had to go home to check on the dog.

That was a sight I will never forget: My mom laying in the hospital bed with her oxygen. The last night we saw her alive, my brother and I put my cross necklace around her neck. My husband gave this to me when I was baptized in 2001. She was buried in this necklace. My mom died July 29, 2006. My husband and I were going back to Alabama and my dad called from the hospital before we left and said she stopped breathing.

The last sight I have of my mom is her laying in the coffin that I picked out. I remember telling my husband that she gave everything she had for us when we were little and I didn't want her buried in some plain coffin. I wanted my Mom to have the best because she gave us the best!!

I know I told you more than you probably wanted to know but there is something I want you to take from this. Don't take your loved ones for granted. Tell them that you love them. I made a comment to my mother-in-law the day before my mom went into the hospital. I told her "I don't know what I would do if I ever lost my mom." Little did I know, I would lost my mom 13 days later.

My mom knew the Lord (I also do too) and I know she is in a better place and not in pain anymore. I know she is watching out for me! My mom died in July and we got pregnant in Oct. through fertility treatments. I know my mom had a talk with God:) My daughter is named after my mom and we always talk about Grandma in Heaven.

P.S. I am participating in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure in Atlanta in October. I would appreciate it if you could visit my personal page and donate to this cause. You can even join my team!!! If you feel uncomfortable about donating online (it is a secure site and there is nothing to worry about), email me and I will tell you what to do. Here is the link.

My Sleep Bible

All righty folks. I had this post scheduled for later next week, but it is 3am, I cannot sleep, I'm waiting for my bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios to kick in, and thought, I would tackle this now rather than later.
So here goes.  

I wrote a post the other day on my current life as a mommy to two toddlers who are just eight months apart. I immediately had quick comments about my tips for kids sleeping through the night. (Since I posted this originally in 2011, I have added two more children to my brood, all of whom have slept through the night by three months old.)

I want to preface what I am going to say with two things:

  1. I know that all children are different. I do feel that we have pretty good "advice" based on the fact that what we did worked two four times with two four different children who are not genetically related. My boys slept through the night at 8 weeks (bottle-fed Isaac) and 10 weeks (breast-fed Elijah). My girls were right around the same time. They have, ever since, gone to bed at bedtime and not gotten up until the morning again barring unusual circumstances (like an illness.) They do wake up early, but they go to bed early as well. What we did, DID work (even with a very hungry and not content newborn Elijah). Glean from this what you want. Don't take it as gospel. Please don't see what I am saying as slamming what you are doing. This is just "what worked for me."
  2. Children sleeping through the night and NOT sleeping in our bed and NOT needing to be rocked to sleep was important to us. It may not be important to you. If what you are doing works for your family, that is great. In our case, I had two babies. I did not have the luxury to be rocking one to sleep when another was needing my attention as well. I was incredibly fatigued with flip-flopped nap schedules all day long, and JB and I needed our full night of sleep. (When Elijah was born, Isaac was still taking three naps a day. Add three naps for Elijah and you are having a child napping and one awake six times a day. Craziness!) Some people do well on little sleep. You can ask anyone who has known me well, and they will tell you that I am NOT one of those people. So sleep was a huge focus for us as we entered parenthood.
  3. In addition, my husband is a family medicine physician. Not only does he recommend what we do to his patients, but he approved of it in our house. He has used this with MANY patients who come to him at the end of their ropes from now sleep.
Okay, that said, here is what we did.

Firstly, we read the book Baby Wise. My friend Shannon and her husband Tristan had three boys that were all good sleepers. I wanted that. So I asked her what she did. She loaned me her book. I read it. JB read it.

I did not read this and do everything it said. Far from it. In fact, we gleaned only one major technique from this book (which was an underlying theme albeit) that we took to heart. When our boys were newborns, right away, we implemented a pattern for their sleep. That pattern went as such:
  • Eat time
  • Play time
  • Sleep time
  • Repeat
The book talked about scheduling feeds and what-not. We didn't really do that. We attempted to find a good schedule for how often our boys ate, but as I mentioned previously, Elijah had a very difficult first three months. Long story short, I was producing enough milk but he, well, as JB likes to say, "He sucked at sucking." I was feeding him an hour on and an hour off. Not good when you have an eight month old waiting in the wings. However, even with that schedule, we implemented the pattern above.

The idea is that baby learns to fall asleep without needing Mom there to comfort. So we would feed, play with the baby (this might last 2 minutes with a newborn or an hour with an older baby) and then we swaddled and put the baby down to fall asleep on their own.

This is not to say that I did not hold my boys during naps or put them in their swing or car seat for naps. I did all those things. But I didn't do it all the time. My general rule was one nap a day on Mommy's chest. I loved it. They loved it. But I didn't want them to require that. I wanted it to be an extra luxury. If baby fall asleep by you, and every time they wake up you are there, waking up without you there will cause great stress, crying, and a desire to be comforted by YOU again. And YOU need to sleep too.

The other MAIN thing we did was to let the baby self-comfort. This can be very hard for some parents. It was hard for me. JB had to practically block the door a few times to prevent me from going and picking up one of my boys. But if they had eaten, played, and were clean and dry, the idea is that they are able to fall back asleep when they wake up. You can go in and comfort them. You can give a pacifier or whatever else you want to help. But picking them up, feeding them, letting them fall asleep on you, will tell them that they need Mom to help them fall asleep. And they WILL require that again.

I remember when Elijah was a newborn. My mother-in-law was with us for the first two weeks, and I am pretty sure it took every fiber of her being not to go and pick up Elijah as he screamed to be held when it was "sleep time". It is not a comfortable feeling. However, we believe, from the beginning, that baby has the power to put themselves to sleep when they wake up and find Mom not there. So we let them cry it out. We set time limits. Especially during the first 2-3 months. They might need an extra feed during this time.

It was nearly a year and a half later, that I left my boys with my sister-in-law for JB's graduation banquet. When we came home, she said to us that it was a busy night. Lots of activity. Lots of crying and whining and fighting. But she then added the caveat, "I have never seen boys go to bed like your boys go to bed." I remember my mother-in-law laughing and telling us then how hard it had been to not say anything when Elijah was a newborn, but now, she saw why we did what we did.

If my boys wake up in the night now, they do NOT get out of their beds. Now obviously there are exceptions. Illness or being in a strange place is a major one. You may have to spend a few nights getting a child back on track once you return from a trip or after an illness. However, my boys know that they do not get up until it is morning time. There is no juice or climbing in Dad and Mom's bed. Ever. That's just how it goes.

When baby is under a year, the major thing to note is that baby has the ability, from about 2-3 months on, to go eight hours without needing to eat. If baby is eating, it may because they are having dietary issues. But other than that, it is a comfort "thing." Baby wants to be comforted and being with mom and fed, comforts baby.

JB has a saying, "Exhaustion WILL win." He would say this to me when Isaac and Elijah were 4 or 5 months old and they had eaten and were changed and had fallen asleep and had then woken up and were screaming for us to come and get them. He would almost literally hold me down in the bed. We would time it. The longest either boy went was 45 minutes. But they never went 46 minutes. Once they did it for 45, the next night, it was almost always less. 40 minutes. 35. Way down the scale. I would have ruined it had I gone in at 45. If I did, the next night, they may have had the ability to push to 50 knowing that we came in the night before.

JB sees many new moms as a doctor. Especially when he was a resident. Almost always, when a mom came in complaining that the baby wasn't sleeping, the baby was being held most of the day. The in-laws and parents were there and every time the baby cried, baby was comforted. Then everyone left, and it was just dad and mom, and they couldn't get baby to sleep. JB would share this pattern with them, and nearly always, they returned 1-2 months later telling him that things were markedly improved. Not always perfect. But any improvement when talking about sleep is good!

The other thing we do is create a good sleep environment. We use white noise machines. We keep the rooms well-carpetted to prevent sound from traveling. We do not, however, especially when the child is very little, attempt to create a noise-free environment, as this is not reasonable to expect. Kids will need to learn how to sleep amidst noise. If the dog barks, he barks. Get used to it kid!

So that's our trick. If you have something helpful to share, please do, but PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE remember that this is just MY PERSONAL ADVICE. As the wife of an intellectual, I am well-aware that saying, "This will work!" because it worked for three of your best friends, is not good research. John cringes every time someone gives him an old wives tale and says, "No seriously! My Aunt did it and it works." Working for one person does not give medical credence to something. Just because Mary drank a potion and got pregnant didn't mean that I would drink that potion and get pregnant. Really!

I cannot promise that this will work for you or your children. I can only say that this worked for me. I may have baby #3 and come back on here and say, "Well, throw all that out the window." I do not propose to be the Bible on Sleep. But I do think, if you follow what I am suggesting, you will see an improvement. And improvements are good.

Secondarily, this "style" may not be right for you. You may enjoy the night feeds or the child sleeping in bed with you. If you do, and it is working for you, that is great. But in our case, with two babies eight months apart, this style would have broken me down and left me a bumbling mess in the corner of a room. I didn't have grandparents around to help if I had a bad night of sleep. I had a husband working 90 hour weeks. I had a new puppy and two babies, and I needed to get a full night's sleep to be on my best the next day. (In addition, having time each evening with my husband is important to me.)

Did you know that it is recommended that a child gets the following amount of sleep?
  • 1-4 weeks old (15-16 hours per day)
  • 1-4 months old (14-15 hours)
  • 4-12 months (14-15 hours)
  • 1-3 years old (12-14 hours)
  • 3-6 years old (10-12 hours)
  • 7-12 years old (10-11 hours)
I cannot tell you how many crabby kids I have met. And when I observe their sleep schedule they are getting, sometimes a quarter less sleep each night then they are supposed to. My toddlers are supposed to be sleeping HALF OF THE DAY! They need that. Yes, my boys wake up early. But they sleep from about 7:30pm until 6am every day. That is 10.5 hours of sleep a day. They then take a nap for 2-3 hours bringing them to their 12-14 hour requirement. Kids need more sleep than they are getting. Kids that are staying up into the evening and not taking naps, are, in my opinion, sleep-deprived, and their behavior is a result. Isaac has begun fighting his naps. I truly don't care. He will be at least in kindergarten before I stop requiring him to rest in his room for 2 hours a day. Rest is better than nothing.

People also tell me that they feel letting a child cry it out is cruel. I have to disagree. We, as parents KNOW better. We know that the sleep will make them feel better. We are just helping them to get what they need.

I'd appreciate positive comments or comments sharing your own advice. But please do not "smash" mine. This is my blog. I was asked for my advice. Advice is information that can be taken or left behind. It will not hurt my feelings if you disagree. But do so kindly. Parents can get very touchy about this issue. JB and I offer our advice as simply "what worked for us." We have many people ask us what we did when they see how well our boys sleep.

P.S. We also swaddle. Here is a video showing our technique.

So, there you have it. My Sleep Bible.


P.S. I have since created a My Sleep Bible Part II.  I have also begun compiling the Q&A that I have been having with different moms. You can read that by clicking here: The Doctor's Wife: Sleep Q & A. If you want to read some testimonials from moms who reached out to me, click here. 

P.S.S. And here are some other articles that couple with our philosophy:

A bit more Easter

Wanted to share a few pics my friend Kristy got of Elijah participating in one of the two hunts that the co-op moms put on for the kiddos.

Also, here's a fun video featuring the Easter Egg Hunt our boys attended on Easter. It shows the community we are a part of here at Incirlik (even if you don't see our boys in it!)


The foot is looking better than it was a few days ago, but I decided to take a photo to show how puffy it is. My toes are a tad swollen as is the top of my foot. It is definitely sore in the back of my heel. If I were still a basketball player, this sprain would have put me out two weeks easily. It's quite a doozy!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Stroller Recommendation

Courtney asked for a double stroller recommendation on the post I wrote the other day. I am referring back to a previous post I did on my BOB stroller. Here is the link to the page on REI.

Let me say a few things about my recommendation:
  • If you want to jog AT ALL do NOT buy a cheap jogger. This was my one splurge when we found out we were going to have two babies. I had seven baby showers when Isaac was born and really didn't need to buy anything. This was the only major purchase we made, and it was worth every penny. (I did have quite a few REI gift certificates that went toward this so in the end, we ended up paying about 50% for this stroller.)
  • The other great thing is that you can buy an $80 attachment (which we did), which allows you to put the infant seat in it. This is important because you are not supposed to jog with babies under six months old, but you can if they are in their car seat! If you want to jog quickly, this is the stroller for you.
  • The stroller is designed to fit through all standard doorways in the USA. Turkey is a different story, but in the US, we never hit a doorway that we couldn't fit it through.
  • We also got a GRACO double stroller, and quite honestly, as the boys got bigger, I just couldn't manage it anymore. It was way too heavy with two 25-pounders on board. This thing truly doesn't feel like you are pushing anything at all unless you are going straight up hill. I cannot even compare the difference in pushing this jogger over a regular stroller.
  • The downsides to this stroller are two: (1) not the easiest to pack up and take places with you (2) storage is limited -- it's hard to access the under-stroller basket.
  • Stroller is expensive, and truthfully, I don't see them on second-hand sites very often (probably because they are so stinkin' awesome.
  • I did receive a "recall announcement" on this particular stroller in the mail just two days ago informing me that it had a drawstring that I should remove.
I do not have a good recommendation for a double stroller that is non-jogging. However, Faith put a comment on my blog for one. Does anyone else out there have a good non-jogger recommendation. Faith recommended:
  • It's the Bumbleride indie Twin and it is SOOOO nice. Esp with a newborn because it has a car seat adaptor that comes standard, so we didn't have to worry about that. It as lots of nice perks. It is a side by side, so of course it may not work for you with the small doorways in Turkey, but there are VERY few doorways here that this stroller can't get through...
Hope this helps Courtney!

Lovin' Veronica (and their new shirts)

The boys love to make silly pictures with Veronica while she is on the computer. Here they are wearing their "Woody" shirts (from Toy Story) -- a gift from Joni and Bri -- and just fooling around with Veronica.

We are so blessed to have Veronica here. Especially as JB and I take a much-needed vacation just the two of us and leave her to hold down the fort. It is so wonderful to be able to walk out of the house and know that there is someone there backing up my discipline and "way" of doing things. The boys don't even blink when I leave them with her. She is totally part of the family.

You go Er-onica!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

My life as a Mom

I thought it might be a good moment to include a little "Mom Update" on my blog. Every stage of a child's life creates a new bit of drama. I often remark, and hear others remark, that just when you figure it out, it will be time for things to change.

Preach it.

My boys are now both well into their 2's. In fact, Isaac will leave the 2's next month and celebrate his 3rd birthday.

So what is life like in our house currently? How have things changed or remained the same during the nine months that we have resided in Turkey. Read on for more than you probably wanted to know:

Both boys still take a nap EVERY afternoon. These naps usually go from about 1pm-3pm. Elijah still sleeps longer than Isaac. (I sometimes have to wake him around 4pm). Elijah naps in the crib in the nursery. (We plan to transition him when we return from Spain.) The reason for the separation is that they play too darned long at naptime if they are in the room together. Isaac has been fighting his nap recently and will sometimes not nap. I imagine this is an age thing, but I plan to have him in his room for at least 90 minutes every afternoon whether he sleeps or not.

The boys go to bed around 7:30pm every evening. Elijah wakes up around 6am. Sometimes Isaac gets up with him but often he will stay asleep for another hour or so. I am interested to see how sleep goes with our third baby. I truly feel like we got good advice and did things "right" in the sleep department. Our boys started sleeping through the night at 8 and 10 weeks and have basically slept through the night ever since, barring an illness or something unusual. I feel like 2 for 2 is good, but I'll really feel that we "did it right" if we go 3 for 3 in the sleep department. I know every child is different and so I will do my best and pray it goes the same way again.

We now have two toilet-trained little boys. This is an amazing (and surprising) answer to prayer. Isaac is 100% perfect with #1. Elijah is usually perfect but can, on what is a rare occasion now, get distracted. Elijah is perfect with #2. Isaac is still doing #2 in his diaper at naptime. Both boys are still sleeping in a diaper at nap and bedtime. We don't plan to work on this right now. (We'll probably approach it after the baby is born, especially with Isaac.) We are very happy with how well they have toilet-trained. Especially Elijah who is considerably younger (in toilet training months) than big brother.

Mealtime has stayed fairly consistent in our house. Breakfast is very casual. The boys can choose what they would like to eat for breakfast. In fact, often times breakfast is eaten as they play. Isaac often chooses cereal or yogurt. His favorite cereals are Raisin Bran, Oatmeal Squares (or anything that looks like an Oatmeal Square), and Cheerios. Elijah usually chooses multiple bananas (he can eat as many as three if I let him -- and, no, they don't stop him up), yogurt, toast, or a waffle. Lunch is eaten more formally. I usually serve some sort of main dish (PB&J, grilled cheese, leftovers, chicken, pasta etc.) with a sampling of fruit on the side or some raisins. Dinner is a meal we eat as a family (if it all times correctly.) Elijah eats whatever we serve. Isaac is much more picky. We try to serve them a bit of whatever we are eating and then supplement with fruits and vegetables. Both boys love fruit but Isaac especially is very content with just fruit for his meal. About 50% of the time, Isaac cries when dinner is served. He doesn't want to eat. He is given the choice of sitting with us (even if he doesn't eat) or sitting in time-out until he is done crying. 95% of the time, after a few visits to time-out, he returns to the table and begins eating. It's crazy! We have no idea why he does this.

Our biggest discipline issues have now become:
(1) Talking Back -- Both boys have begun talking back with fairly good regularity. Isaac, however, has become old enough to recognize what talking back is. He will do it himself and then say, "I talked back to you." Or, when Elijah does it, Isaac will say, "He is talking back." JB and I have come together as a team on this and firmly believe that they must tire on this challenge before we do. So talking back is an immediate time-out every single time. Elijah has started screaming his talking back which can result in a spanking instead of a time-out depending on the severity. Both boys are aware that what they are doing is wrong, and while the behavior persists, they know they are in trouble as soon as they do it.
(2) Fighting with each other -- Fighting usually involves Isaac doing something to "provoke" Elijah and Elijah erupting with a swat to Isaac's head if he can. Another typical fighting episode involves Elijah taking something or grabbing something from Isaac and Isaac screaming in return. (Isaac very rarely, if EVER, responds with violence.) They will also want to wrestle or play with each other and then someone pushes it too far and someone else gets upset. For the most part, the fighting is verbal and not physical. And if it does get physical, right now, it is slight.
(3) Not listening when given instructions. When told to "come here" or "pick that up" we can be ignored or told "No" with regularity. This is often done by Elijah more than Isaac. We usually present the instruction one more time with a statement of what consequence will follow. I suppose this isn't much different than counting to 3, but I have, so far, refused to count to 3. I'm just not a fan. (Although, like I said, I think what I am doing is just a variation.)

Both boys are really good when we are away from home. I am blessed to not have "runners" as with two kids, a runner could be devastating for me! They stay close to me and hold my hand when crossing the street and generally listen well. We use the stroller some when we are out, but we also will allow them to walk themselves, especially when we are off-Base. (Roads and sidewalks in Turkey and doorways for that matter are not stroller-friendly.) We sometimes run into bad behavior when out, and this can be hard to deal with. We can threaten to take Elijah's blue hat or give a knee or shoulder squeeze, but in kids that don't understand long-term consequences, punishments away from the house are not easy to come by.

Both boys love playing with cars. Elijah wants to set up his Thomas trains nearly every day. They love to play outside on their bikes. (Isaac has started pedaling a bit, but Elijah still pushes with his feet.) They love to go over to the neighbor's house and jump on the trampoline. They enjoy climbing (at the park or on old ruins.) They both love to watch videos. Their favorite TV show is Mickey Mouse Clubhouse but they also enjoy watching movies. The Goofy Movie and How to Train Your Dragon are currently favorites. Eiljah loves to eat. Isaac enjoys self-play more than Elijah. Elijah likes to get wet playing in his water table outside. Isaac does not, but he does enjoy taking off his shoes and making foot prints. They enjoy the dirt and our sandbox. They always enjoy going to a park or going to see Daddy. When asked who their best friend is, they will often list each other or one of the grandparents. Elijah will list his friend William.

Scrubs remains a constant presence in our home. He likes the boys and gives them licks whenever they give him a hug, but we haven't noticed his tail start thumping when they come near like it does when JB or myself or Veronica approach. Elijah has started calling him "Scrubsy" which is so stinkin' cute. And Isaac likes to say, "I give Scrubby big hugs. I give him nice pets." We have to remind them to be gentle and not throw things or hit Scrubs, but they are usually very good with him. They also love to help feed him or give him water.

The boys have their favorite people. They love Linda and Shane. They also love Stebs and William. Both boys enjoy Angelica, but Elijah especially seems to have a special relatinoship with her. If I leave the boys with Veronica, they do not blink an eye. Isaac continues to choose JB over me on most occasions, but Elijah now chooses us evenly (instead of leaning toward me.) When either boy gets hurt, they seem to run to me over Daddy first.

Both boys are talking like crazy. Isaac's vocabularly is basically without limit at this point, and while his voice is soft, if you listen, you will understand him. Elijah is not as easy. He grunts and can be more difficult to understand. I used to think that Isaac could always understand Elijah, but then, just tonight, I heard Isaac said, "Elijah, I don't understand what are you saying!" :) I can usually ascertain what Elijah is saying, but he may have to show me or direct me -- at least until I have that certain word in my "Elijah vocabularly." Elijah says things that are so funny due to his lack of perfection in talking. "That's a good idewa (idea)" is one of them. He says "hip-up" for hiccup. That sort of thing. I love the way he talks and don't wan to rush perfection into the picture.

As a mother, my main challenges are keeping them occupied and busy with activities throughout the day without them tearing down the house or each other. They need to change activities quickly, and since there are two of them, and they aren't often doing the same activity, this can get tough. For instance, say Elijah is doing play-dough and Isaac is playing with his cars. Fifteen minutes later Elijah is done with his play-dough and Isaac is asking to get his coloring out while Elijah wants to read books. I am getting them to help clean up, but I am also presented with trying to clean up, start up, and move on all at the same time. Of course, in an ideal world, I'd have them do the same things at the same time, and somedays, that does work out. But not always. They are opinionated about what they want to do and when they want to do it. I have started using rewards (Raisinettes are the current passion) to encourage help cleaning up before we move on to a new activity. I think most of my "stress" is just the fact that there are two of them (and three when Scrubs is feeling especially spunky) and one of me, and I feel so exhausted by nap-time from maneuvering through bathroom breaks, snacks, lunch, activities, etc.

So, that's about all I got right now. Questions anyone? Is there anything I didn't cover?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

MYTH: Adopt, and you'll get pregnant

My friend Amy participated in the "Bust a Myth" Infertility Challenge sponsored by RESOLVE just like I did a few days ago. It's funny, but I was just contemplating the wording to write nearly the exact same post when I hopped over to Amy's blog and realized what I was thinking had already been said.

I couldn't have said it better myself.

It's funny hearing this coming from Amy and then from me since we both have two little boys one year and less than one year apart. I met Amy online (In fact, it was through Amy that my friend Stebbs and I met each other before either of us relocated to Turkey) while we were knee-deep and needles and doctor's appointments. Failed IUI's. Failed IVF's. A turn to adoption. For both of us.

And then, pregnancy.

But the truth of the matter is, while it may seem like women who adopt get pregnant all the time, it is actually the exception. I've written about this before. How many times have you told my story to someone else? Now how many times have you told the story of another friend you have that adopted and never did go on to have other children? My story passes quickly. Stories of adoptions that do not result in pregnancy do not generate as much "buzz." That's really what it boils down to.

I especially liked when Amy wrote the following:

Soon the comments began. "You hear about this happening all the time," and "See, you relaxed about having a baby and then you got pregnant," and "I knew this would happen." I know people mean well, I really do. I always pray to respond from a place of grace.

I pick my battles. Sometimes I say, "Yes, it does happen," and sometimes I cite the statistics, "
Actually, only 5-10% of parents who adopt due to infertility go on to conceive and bear children." And sometimes, perhaps not often enough, I present the answer I believe the strongest.

I believe that we were able to conceive after years of infertility and adoption because God meticulously planned it out just so.


Amy, I totally agree. You completely echoed my heart. I hesitate to tell our story because I know what is coming next. JB corrects these people all the time. I correct them most of the time. Sometimes I just don't feel like it. Sometimes they are Turkish, and I know the language barrier will prohibit me from saying what I am thinking.

But either way, the truth is as follows:
  • Adoption is awesome in and of itself.
  • There is no proof to indicate that adopting results in pregnancy.
  • The 5-10% statistic is actually a lower success rate than what a woman who tries on their own faces during any given month.
  • No one can say for certain whether a woman who gets pregnant post-adoption would have conceived anyway.
  • Telling your friend who is adopting "Watch and you will get pregnant" is NOT recommended. In fact, it can be hurtful (even though that is not your intention). It implies that adoption is not good enough and the "good enough" will come after the adoption.
  • Repeating my story or Amy's story to people is great. It shows the Lord's blessings. But please help educate people when you tell it. Please inform people that this is the exception not the rule.
For more information on infertility, please click here. This blog post is part of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association's National Infertility Awareness Week® (NIAW). Click here for more information on this organization, the largest nationwide non-profit improving the lives of people diagnosed with infertility. This post is part of RESOLVE'S"Bust an Infertility Myth Blog Challenge."

So long Leah!

So wonderful to catch up with old friends. It's been over ten years since I had seen Leah! But it didn't feel like it at all. We were able to pick up like no time had been lost. She spent a few days with us, then joined in on a Base tour to Cappadocia for a night before returning here and flying out on Monday morning. Thank you Leah for taking some time to catch up with an old friend. Can't wait to see you more during our time in Turkey.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

First Stitches

Our Sunday started off innocently enough -- by trying on the new Mickey shirts that Joni and Bri bought for the boys for Easter.

There was supposed to be a sunrise service at the park and a unity service and a church picnic. Unfortunately, bad weather moved everything inside and cancelled the picnic altogether. So prior to going to the unity service at noon, we decided to die some easter eggs. Due to Isaac's egg allergy (he can't even touch them as far as we know), we had to keep him busy with other things while Elijah, Veronica, and Daddy died eggs. Good thing for us, Isaac usually likes to do things solo anyways. He contentedly played with his cars and then not-so-contentedly waited for some glue to dry on an Easter Duck Kit that Papa and Grama Di sent for him. Mommy mostly cleaned up the messes developing while everyone else played. She really has no patience or talent for dying eggs.

Here's some pictures of Veronica's very first attempt EVER at dying eggs!

After eggs, it was time for the noon unity service. This is where the various protestant groups on Base meet and worship together. This includes our traditional service, gospel service, contemporary service, and Church of Christ service. There was no childcare which meant thirty minutes was all our guys had in us. JB took them back to the cry room for the sermon and communion.

After church, we took some family pictures. I really like them!

This is where our fun day ended. We took the boys upstairs to put them down for their naps. As Isaac went running out of the nursery to go to his room to lay down, he tripped, and clocked his chin on the tile.

Doctor JB took a look and decided that our little Isaac needed stitches. During the last year, JB has really been working on getting his own little "mini clinic" in a bag so that he can take care of minor emergencies without needing an emergency room. He had everything we needed for Isaac to get the stitches right on our dining room table. Oh joy!

JB thought it would be difficult to stitch his own little guy (he stitched a neighbor's boy a few weeks ago), but he actually said it was easier than he thought. Veronica tried to sneak away to avoid having to see Isaac in pain, but JB told her we needed an extra hand. We had to pin him down for the numbing agent, but once that was over, he took getting the stitches rather well. Especially when he was promised ice cream. "I have chocolate ice cream for you," I said to him as he was crying and JB was stitching. "I want da-nilla!" he managed to cry back.

Here is a picture of boy and daddy watching Monsters and eating ice cream (all we had was chocolate) after the stitches were done:

It was an exhausting day, but Isaac was a trooper. We thought it very telling of our own Father's Love (especially on Easter Sunday). As soon as JB was done fixing Isaac up, Isaac immediately wanted his Daddy to hold him. We seek correction. We seek discipline. We need molding. And then we seek support from that same person who gave it. This is true of our Heavenly Father's discipline and love and of a mother or father on Earth as well.

Another interesting thing happened later that day. Isaac was talking to Grampa K. on the phone. As he retold the story of his stitches, he told Grampa that he got ice cream. Only he used the Turkish word for ice cream! That was really something. He will often say things in Turkish if asked but to interchange the word himself was really fun to witness. JB and I had a good laugh at this.

Happy Easter everyone! He is risen!

Myth: Biological families are the best families

Once upon a time, a sixteen year old girl finally talked a seventeen year old boy that she had known since she was nine, to fall in love with her:

Five years later, they were married, so blessed to be husband and wife and dreaming of raising a whole house of children together:

As the next ten years came and went, their marriage remained strong. But their dream of children slowly began to disappear. They pursued infertility treatments. Three failed clomid cycles, five failed artificial insemination (IUI) cycles, and four failed invitro fertilization (IVF) cycles left them so sick of seeing this:

Tired of the journey and weary from so many disappointments, they decided to find the highest maintenance and most energetic puppy they could find. Scrubs joined their family in July of 2007:

While they always believed adoption was in their future and they believed it would be great to parent through this means, in their heart of hearts, they believed that adoption was second best, and that not having a biological child would leave them always a bit "incomplete." But when a phone call from a family friend came and they were asked to adopt her son, their whole world changed:. On May 7, 2008, they were able to hold Isaac John for the very first time in the hospital nursery:

Isaac John was the light of their lives, and their misconception was quickly corrected. Adoption was not a second-best way to parent. It was parenting. It was the same. The love was identical. They knew this in every fiber of their being now that they had Isaac. He was their little boy. When Isaac was just six weeks old, John and Wendi discovered that they were eight weeks pregnant. Pregnant with no infertility treatments at all. (And while many people believe this is the norm, it is actually the exception.)

Eight months after Isaac joined their family, John and Wendi had the pleasure to introduce 8.5 month old big brother to Elijah Luke:

Life would never be the same:

The truth is, many people believe like John and Wendi did -- that biological parenthood is the best way or even the only way to become parents. That these families are the best types of families. That these children are the healthiest. That adopted children have more "issues" than biological children.

But this is a myth. It is not accurate. As Wendi wrote about in a previous post on her blog, the joys of parenting are not lessened, the trials no less intense, by the way in which your child joins your family. The bonding may be slightly different, but it still occurs and is just as intense. You are still Mom and Dad.

Two little boys live in John and Wendi's house today. Two little boys who are loved equally, punished individually, hugged separately (and sometimes together), and kissed and smothered with affection and identical intensity.

Parenthood is parenthood.

And it's awesome. No matter how it comes about.

For more information on infertility, please click here. This blog post is part of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association's National Infertility Awareness Week® (NIAW). Click here for more information on this organization, the largest nationwide non-profit improving the lives of people diagnosed with infertility. This post is part of RESOLVE'S "Bust an Infertility Myth Blog Challenge."

Saturday, April 23, 2011

What a Difference a Year Makes!

Last year, I attempted an Easter Egg Hunt with both boys, by myself, while JB was working. (He worked a lot so going as a family wasn't quite possible.) The boys didn't really "get it" but we still got a couple of fun pictures:

Look how little they are!

Is that not Elijah or what!?

This year, my hubby is no longer a resident and so we were able to head over to Arkadas park as a family for an Easter Egg Hunt. The boys are much older and definitely "got it" this year. They also have had two mini hunts at co-op during the last two weeks that have allowed them to "get it" even more.

The Base did a great job of preparing for this hunt. They separated the park into sections based on age group, and, being the smart people they are, allowed the 0-3 year old group to go first!

JB explaining to the boys that they have to wait to cross the line until the lady says "Go!"

Posing with their truck baskets from Joni. Aren't those the cutest things?!

They kept holding hands while waiting for the lady to tell them they could start.

Elijah spots an egg that might be close enough to sneak in his truck before the gun!

... with one of their best buddies William.

... with one of my best buddies, Stebbs!

He's following the family rule: only jump in puddles if you have boots on.

Look at that face (Isaac)!

And look at that face (JB)! What a great husband and father he is. I love this man!

And we are off!

Elijah faces the forces of gravity yet again -- poor kid is so top heavy.

A bit muddy ...

... but he recovers quickly.

Great fun!!!!

Another blog

I love this gal's blog about life in Turkey. She's an American who moved to Istanbul by choice. And she writes about her life in Turkey. It's fantastic! Check out this post for a really good laugh (and a glimpse into life with the Turks).