Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Some updates on Mercer

Last weekend, we went to a fundraiser for Mercer's daycare.  There was a glitch in the arrangements, but several of the families from the school showed up at Chuck-e-Cheese's on the designated night.  At that point you cannot leave -- telling your kid that there was a mistake in the coordination.  We had to stick it out.  Actually, the restaurant wasn't as gross as it seemed last year for the same fundraiser.  AND on a positive note, I got to spend some time with the mother of one of Mercer's friends (Gabriel) that I have been wanting to get to know better, for we are in a similar industry.  Stacy and I had a bit of time to talk while the boys and the dads played games at the restaurant.  (Um.  not quite sure what is going on in this picture, but it was one caught at an impromptu moment.  And - yes - they're both wearing green on purpose.  They had a St. Patrick's day party that day at school.)    

Updates on Mercer:

  • Mercer had a dentist appointment last week.  ALL GOOD. 
  • He had a pediatrician appointment last week.  ALL GOOD.  Mercer is almost 43" tall (91% of other 4 year olds) and is 41 lbs (83% of others).  They took Mercer's blood pressure, had him pee in a cup (which actually went much better than initially thought), did a hearing & vision test, and asked about things that he is capable of such as riding a tricycle, cutting paper with scissors, and using his imagination. 
  • Todd & I had a parent-teacher conference today with Mercer's teacher... and we are happy to say that it was ALL GOOD too!  The teacher said that he is much better behaved than he was in the fall when she started working with him.  He is kind and considerate.  He is excelling in his numbers and sounds.  He doesn't seem to want to color, but he does well with coloring when it is associated with counting and color in the images that have "words that start with the letter....."  She actually said that he likes to do his school work now -- he WANTS to do the activities.  whew~  He has learned his days of the week / the months / they're learning continents / counting "in the teens" still needs a little work (he always skips 16) and has mastered all of the letters of the alphabet.  On our end - we notice he likes to do letters / numbers / days of the week / etc in "order."  He gets frustrated when going out of order, but she said that's normal -- all kids learn that way.  Needless to say, we were pretty pleased.
We're switching Mercer's extracurricular sports activity from Tuesdays after school to a soccer skills class on Saturday mornings at a county-run soccer complex.  We like the class at his school because of the exposure to a lot of different sports.  We wanted, however, to focus on one activity and go ahead / throw our hat in the ring of organized sports and playing on a team.   
He had his first soccer lesson this past Saturday.  Each child got a ball.  They started out touching the ball with their foot in different ways so they can stretch out different muscles + experience how the ball feels on the top and bottom of the foot.  They did some lateral "ladder" drills too.... all fundamentals that the coach says will build skills.   The lesson was followed by a little free-for-all where the kids just ran kicking a ball and getting it in either goal.  Mercer did not participate very much because he was upset that he could not use HIS ball... all of the kids had to kick around the ONE ball on the field.  Interestingly, most of the kids wanted to do these things while holding a parent's hand. We are very interested to see his progress in this towards the end of the season... much like the noted improvement in his schooling over time.  We're sure he'll become more independent and more confident in this.

There are a couple of things that he's saying now that's funny: 
     - "ink worm" is inch worm.  (They're all around and we've been having lots of fun with them)
     - "cinnamon car" is M and M car.  (There's a game that he and Todd has been playing and there's an animated M and M car in it.)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The past few weeks have been... well... it's hard to describe

We have been absolutely bowled over by the kindness of our neighbors, friends, and even the friend-of-a-friend.... a complete stranger!  It is so amazing how enthusiastically people support our desire to bring home a baby girl this year and place her in our loving home. 

These past couple of weeks, we have been very busy with the fundraising activities that we've undertaken:  baking trays of baklava, baking dozens of cookies, flipping 100+ pancakes, and clearing out some old things that we don't need at the moment.  Here's a shot of Todd making up the sweet potato pancake batter the night before our inaugural pancake breakfast.  We have a huge respect for what it takes to run a restaurant -- cooking in large quantities, trying to have things ready for the most part ahead of time, and trying to plate everyone as they came in.  It really wasn't a huge crowd (compared to a restaurant), but we are so thankful that folks were patient while we served them, some - who have been in our home a lot and are like family - were comfortable enough to help themselves, and that we were able to spend some quality time with those we care a lot about in addition to it all!

Unfortunately, we were so busy that we were not able to snap any photos.  There was one moment that I wish I could have captured, but was happy to have at least witnessed it:  Mercer and some of the other kids were huddled around a 6 month old baby girl named Lucy who was on the couch with one of the older children.  Although Mercer told the social worker a couple of weeks ago that he did not want a baby brother or sister, he was being so attentive to this baby... offering her a monster truck to play with!  It was in this moment that I thought he would be receptive to BEING the big brother (instead of getting a big brother).  So precious!

2 months ago, we were feeling somewhat helpless.  The adoption consultant we worked with for Mercer's adoption flat out told us she couldn't work with us because we did not have the budget.  (The amount is even more than what's on our "fundraising page" as what is shown is a frugal / conservative estimate.)  We knew when we talked to her, that we do not have enough funds to pursue the same path, but it was still very hard to hear it.

So... to hit a really low spot a couple of months ago... now to be lifted up through genuine LOVE and SUPPORT of those in our network... it is just hard to describe.  It is hard to express.  We are blessed.

All we can say is that we have an immense amount of gratitude towards those who are sharing in this with us.  Sincerely.  THANK YOU!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Happy Anniversary + our part of the Home Study is COMPLETE!

We just celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary yesterday.... we had our final "Pre-Placement" Home Study visit.  While the social worker was here, she "interviewed" Mercer.  The question of the hour:  does he want a baby brother or sister?  Eventually, after being shy, he said no - he wanted a big brother.  Ha!  

After we handed her all of our final paperwork that we had to take care of, she told us that we were done.  (That was so wonderful to hear!)  We are 100% complete on our end.  She's compiling the data & writing the report.  YAY!  This is a HUGE hurdle crossed.  This means that - once she finishes her paperwork - we are eligible to adopt a baby.  Now we need to find the *right* opportunity.

Our next step -- start seeking out agencies, adoption lawyers who place babies, and possibly "advertise" outside of our network (such as write letters to OBGYNs / hospitals / etc) that we are hoping to adopt a baby girl this year.  We have done pretty well so far on selling baklava, cookies, and selling "yard sale" items.  We have also been honored by some friends, neighbors, social worker, and even a stranger from the other side of the country!  It is VERY touching how willing people are to help.  We will begin to apply for a couple of grants soon as well to see if we can secure some additional funding. 

We are trying to be aggressive & proactive on this!

Todd's mom was here this past weekend.  We didn't really go out / do much... just go out to eat / cook meals at home / bake baklava.  It seemed to be a food-centric weekend.  We were happy to hang out and spend some time together, though.  

Enclosed are some photos from Mercer's party at the Chattahoochee Nature Center from the previous weekend that were not posted on the last blog entry.  Mercer had a good time with his friends and I like to think that they learned some things.  (My friend Sara and I learned about how birds mate - so that's something!)  They played with animal puppets until the majority of the kids arrived.  Then the naturalist pulled out a Gopher Tortoise and did a lesson on the reptile.  Afterwards, everyone went on a hike where we got to see the rescue animals that are kept at the nature center.  Once back inside, the group sang happy birthday and ate a slice of the cookie cake the nature center provided (after washing their hands, of course).  The kids then played animal charades and finally a game of duck-duck-goose.  Some of the kids stuck around and we all explored the interpretive center together.    When asking Mercer what his favorite part was, he said duck-duck-goose.  
The naturalist who was our "host" for the birthday party is someone who I did some work several years ago, as we developed a website for greening Georgia schools. (check out http://greenandhealthy.org/ for great resources and lessons for children on sustainability topics) ~~cool~~

A couple of things to report: 
Mercer - a few days before he turned 4 - decided that he no longer needed to wear diapers overnight.  There have been a few accidents, but for the most part he's doing well.  He also told me - when I was trying to open something:  mom, let me do it.  I'm 4 now.  (Of course he couldn't open it either so Todd had to do it.)  He's learning "yes ma'am" and "yes sir" at school as well as his days of the weeks and the different months.    

He keeps wishing away his 4th year.  "Next, I'll be 5 then 6 then 7 then 8."  ~sigh~

Friday, March 2, 2012

"Here we go again!"

Todd & I have been very busy lately.  We have been celebrating Mercer's birthday, juggling work & side-work, knocking out the research & forms for our adoption homestudy, prepping for our FINAL social worker homestudy visit, AND building this website about our (prospective) 2012 adoption: http://www.adoption-2.blogspot.com/ 

This may be a bit of a *surprise* for those who didn't know we were looking to adopt again... but I think pretty much everyone who looks at this blog knows we've wanted to do this for awhile. 

We are having to do things a bit differently than how we went through Mercer's adoption.  We're taking on more of the work ouselves (instead of using a consultant) and we are being more creative with the financing:  we are planning to apply for some grants... we are hosting a "virtual" yard sale / virtual "bake sale" / and several upcoming "gourmet" pancake breakfasts as well.  

Most importantly -- if anyone hears of any potential adoption opportunities, PLEASE let us know.  We are nearing the end of our homestudy process and will begin actively searching for a baby girl to add to the Groves family this year.