Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Happy 3 Month Gotcha Day - 7/21/14

Wow – our little angel has been with us for 3 months… can that be?  In some ways, it seems like we’ve had her forever.  In others, I can still remember the ride to the Civil Affairs Office to meet her, and it seems like yesterday.  I remember how nervous I was the night before and in the van ride, but as soon as I saw her, God put a peace over me, and we haven’t looked back since.  This little girl is a true blessing and gift from God.  She is the cutest, happiest, funniest, sweetest, fearless, mischievous, flirtatious, smartest, most precious, cuddliest little thing I have ever met.  She has the most precious and infectious little personality!!  Thanks for being part of our family, sweet girl!  We love you!

A special shout out to Ansley as well for being a big sister for 3 months, too!  She wanted to be part of the photo shoot, so here are some photos of her as well.  :)  We love you, big girl!

As always, thanks for being part of our journey.  All of the prayers, thoughts, well wishes, comments, love, and support are greatly appreciated.

Take care,

Back to Work...

Well, the “honeymoon” is over.  I returned back to work on Monday, July 14th.  Fortunately, I was able to get some downtime and enjoy a nice girls weekend with some of my dear friends from college the weekend before my return.  We try to get together twice per year, and this summer, they came to NashVegas.  We enjoyed Friday evening at Arrington Vineyards, Saturday in Leiper’s Fork and Franklin, and Saturday night in Downtown Nashville.  Sunday was a leisurely breakfast before everyone headed back home.  I am so blessed with so many wonderful friends, but especially these special ladies.  Thanks to Philip, Da, & Su for helping with the girls for me to get a short break.  This was the first time that I spent the night away from Olivia.  She did great and needed the bonding time with Philip, and likewise, Ansley got some “one on one” time with Da and Su.  We divided and conquered for the weekend:  Olivia stayed with Philip for the weekend, while Ansley spent the night with Da & Su.  You know the saying, “It takes a village,” and that is the absolute truth with parenting.  I am blessed with awesome family and friends who are helping us raise our girls.

I am also blessed that Olivia LOVES school.  The teachers marvel at well she is doing, and the fact that she seems to understand everything they say to her.  The English words are slowly coming….she has about 9 right now:  “Hi, Bye Bye, Hot, Thank You, Baby, Shoes, Eyes, DaDa, Mama.”  I keep thinking that one day she is just going to start talking in English sentences, but we’ll see.  She is babbling quite a bit…..I assume in Chinese.  She still will not talk to Mrs. Ping at school, but she definitely understands what she is saying.  She is also “Miss Congeniality.”  She welcomes anyone who comes in her class and likes to show them around the room.  She has a huge smile on her face every day when I pick her up, and the teachers just adore her.  She is very outgoing and doesn’t meet a stranger.  She still spends a lot of time observing, but she is beginning to play with other friends in her class.  She is still doing really well at church, too.

The fact that she loves school made it easier to come back to work.  And, boy, did I come back to some busy-ness!  This time of year is our “busy season,” or busier than others.  This year seems to be crazier than most.  My co-workers welcomed me back with a nice sign and “We missed you’s!”  We are adjusting to our new schedule with Philip taking the girls to school and me picking them up.  I am adjusting to once again trying to be proactive and planning meals ahead, getting clothes out the night before, etc.  So far, so good.  I also have to totally switch gears on my drive to/from work from “Mommy Mode” to “work mode” or vice versa.  It is nice to have a few minutes to clear my mind on the drive.

The hardest time of day is when we walk in the door from work/school.  The girls are “hangry.”  My definition of “hangry” is being so hungry that you’re angry.  Therefore, before I do anything, I have to get them a snack.  That means, before I take off my work clothes, before I set my computer bag down, before I put my keys down, etc.  I’m usually getting dinner ready in my work clothes.  And, as many of you know, there is a fine line that time of day with how much to give them for a snack.  I’m learning my line with Olivia, that’s for sure.  She is a wild woman from about 5-7pm, and some days I just don’t move fast enough for her.  Ha!

She is still eating well; however, she is becoming a little more discerning…especially with meat.  Not really a fan.  Not surprising, since they don’t eat a lot of meat in China.  She LOVES macaroni and cheese, though!  When in doubt, give that girl some mac & cheese!!  She also still enjoys the drinkable yogurt, and LOVES chocolate.  We made brownies, and it was a race to see who could lick the spoon/bowl the fastest!  It was a tight race, too!  (see picture)

Thanks for reading!

Fun Fourth & Social Security Fiasco

We had a great 4th of July weekend and celebrated not only our independence, but also Olivia’s.  It was an extra-special one this year for us.

My Mom and Beth came up for the weekend, and we enjoyed spending time and playing with them.  Grammy and Beth brought special 4th of July hats, head bands, and flags, so Ansley decided that we needed to have a parade.  We all paraded up and down the driveway.  When the adults thought we were finished, she then decided that we needed to parade up and down the street.  :)  We went a little way down the road and then came back.  Olivia just tagged right along like she knew what we were doing.  We made a special flag cake for dessert.  As you can see from the picture below, Olivia couldn’t wait to get her hands in it (literally)!

Daddy and his girls on their bikes

Olivia and Grammy

Beth and Olivia

Future Chef in Training

Getting ready for the parade

Mom surprised the girls with a new outdoor playhouse that Philip put together for them on Saturday, so most of the afternoon was spent “helping” put it together and then playing in it.

Olivia is still doing great in day care!  In fact, we were able to get her in full time beginning the week of July 7th!!  This is such a blessing.  Logistics were going to be a major issue for us if she had stayed part time.  We are so blessed that a spot opened up for her, and that the day care has been so wonderful to work with through this whole transition.

On Wednesday, July 9th, Olivia and I ventured to the Social Security Office to apply for her SSN.  What an experience!  We went early, before they opened, hoping to get in and out.  Little did I know that there would be a line!  Fortunately, the line went pretty quickly, we got inside, and took a number.  Pretty soon after, they called our number, and we went up to the window.  All of Olivia’s paperwork was in line and just what we needed, but as it turned out, MY paperwork was not correct!  It appears that after we got married back in 1999, and I updated my name on my social security card, they changed my name to Jill Fry Martindale, instead of Emily Jill Martindale.  This caused a discrepancy in the computer system, and they would not allow me to continue until they saw my birth certificate.  (And, they closed at noon.) Let this be a lesson for anyone who names their child (daughter, especially) something and calls them by their middle name.  J  I politely asked if Olivia had to come back with me, and he said, “No.”  Thank goodness!  So, I took her to day care, went to the bank to the lock box, got my birth certificate, and went back to the SS office.  Fortunately, I arrived before they closed and after a wait, was able to not only apply for Olivia’s SSN, but also was able to apply for a new card of my own.  Whew!  I was so glad to get that over with.  Besides the “re-adoption” or record of foreign birth, this is one of the last things we have to do.  (For the record, both social security cards arrived one week later.)
Here is the line when we got there:

Here we are patiently waiting for our number to be called:

I am so glad to have this behind us.  

Until next time,

Olivia's Dental Surgery - 7/2/14

Olivia did great, and her teeth look fantastic.  The good news is that they were able to cap the front two teeth and did not have to extract them, which was the hope.  We had to be at the surgery center at 9am.  Little did I know that they did not have her scheduled until 10:30am to actually start the procedure – yikes!  Thank goodness there were some sweet people in the waiting room that enjoyed playing with Olivia.  This little one makes friends very fast!  Here is a "BEFORE" picture:

I was very impressed with the surgical center.  I had no idea that such places existed; silly me, I thought all surgeries took place in a hospital.  While we were there, people had broken hands operated on, ACL (knee) surgery, and I don’t know what else.  They had a pediatric anesthesiologist on-hand from Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital for us.  He was wonderful!  They took us back right around 10:30am, and the anesthesiologist talked to me for a long time about what would take place.  It was a tiny room like you see in a doctor’s office with a tiny little hospital bed.  Unfortunately, I have no medical history except for what I was able to ask while we were with the orphanage workers, so he basically took a very conservative approach with Olivia.  He brought in a mask like they would put on her, so that she could play with it and not be scared.  They flavored it with watermelon, and she seemed to like that.  After they gave her gas, they would begin the local anesthesia.  They would put the IV either in her arm, or in her foot.  The dentist would then begin the x-rays and procedure.  After the procedure, they would keep her in recovery until she began to wake up.  At that time, they would bring me back, and give her to me to complete the “wake up.”  He told me to expect some crying….from confusion more than anything.  After she was able to drink a few sips of water, they would let us go home.  Tylenol/Ibuprofen would do the trick for the rest of the day, so no heavy pain meds.  They said that she should be a little drowsy for the rest of the day and back to normal tomorrow.  She needed to be on a soft food diet for the rest of the day.

After I talked with the anesthesiologist and signed some papers, they carried her back.  I didn’t get to any farther with her at this point.  She had made friends with him, so she didn’t mind him carrying her down the hall.  (Thank goodness.)  I went back in the waiting room, and they had a really neat monitor that showed each patient’s name and where they were in the process.  (see picture)  I waited in the waiting room for about 30-45 minutes when the dentist came out.  He told me that she did great, and the teeth were in better shape than he had anticipated.  He was able to cap them and not extract them!  The teeth should come out as normal when it is time.  But, no hard candy for her moving forward!!

A few minutes later, they came out for me, as she had begun to wake up.  I went back, and they brought her to me.  They had indeed placed the IV in her foot (see picture).  As she began waking up, she was extremely agitated by the IV still in her foot, so I asked them to please remove it.  It seemed to be causing most of the issues.  After they removed it, she drank a little bit of water and was fine (just sleepy).  So, I packed her up and headed home.  She slept on and off for the rest of the afternoon and was “good as new” around dinner time.  She went to day care the next day and hasn’t looked back since!!  She was cute trying to figure out what was new in her mouth.

It was a huge success, and we are so thankful for her new teeth!  She is proud of them, too.

This was the IV in her foot.  Poor thing; she hated it!
 This was right as she was waking up.

 Here is the mask they let her play with.


Thanks for all of the prayers and concerns!  

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

2 Months Home (including a visit to the farm, rainy days, day care, and citizenship paperwork)

Ni Hao, y'all!  Things are hopping around the Martindale house these days!  I hate to brag, but I must say that Olivia is simply amazing!  She has come SO far in two months that it is hard to believe the transformation!  Ansley is also turning out to be a great big sister as well!

We have been busy!

We spent last Friday at the beautiful home and farm of a dear friend of mine.  (This seems to be the summer of animals!)  The girls LOVED spending time there playing, seeing the animals, picking blueberries, flowers, riding around the farm, and getting to know her children better.  I enjoyed spending time with Karen and her wonderful family.  It was a very fun day!!  My girls were so tired that they both slept all the way home.

Olivia LOVES animals but isn't quite sure about touching some of them.  She is showing me a horse in this picture.  Can you see the true bliss in this face?

Sitting on Mr. Kevin's saddles.

Evan, Olivia, Anna Kate, and Ansley having fun seeing inside a horse trailer.
 Anna Kate and Ansley picking blueberries (and flowers) at Mrs. Judy's house.

Having fun on the inflatable water slide!  We literally were dodging rain showers all day!

Looking for fish in the pond.


Ansley, the city girl, is serving as farm hand here.

It poured down rain while we were there, but Mrs. Karen had some arts and crafts for the kiddos to do.

Anna Kate and Ansley having fun with play-doh and coloring.

The weekend weather was very rainy, so we weren't able to spend a lot of time outside.  We did, however, have time to play in the rain.  It is important to note that Olivia was the first to play in the rain and then big sis joined her…..not without first getting her raincoat and rain boots.  :) We also went to Chuck E. Cheese when we got cabin fever.  Both activities were huge hits with the girls.  

 She loved playing in the rain!

 Jumping in the rain puddle
 Ansley's growing up too fast!
 Showing me the horse's eyes and trying to figure out how it goes up and down.
 Talking to Bob the Builder

We received a surprise in the mail this week:  Olivia's Certificate of US Citizenship!  I wasn't sure when we would receive it, but it only took 2 months.  (For government work, I think this is pretty fast!)  This proves that she is a US citizen and was as soon as we set foot on American soil on May 1st.  It is important for us to have this document.  The main reason being that it is the only document we have that proves that she is a citizen.  We have the official adoption paperwork from China, but this is our US citizenship proof.  

This brings up another subject that I have not blogged about:  re-adoption.  In the state of Tennessee, we are not required to "re-adopt" Olivia for legal purposes.  However, I have been reading that people recommend that we do "re-adopt."  You see, she does not have a birth certificate.  If you think about it, you need a birth certificate for many important things:  applying for kindergarten, getting a driver's license, applying for college, getting a US passport, traveling (before you get a driver's license), and some other things.  If we don't "re-adopt," we would have to provide many, many documents and jump through several hoops at each of these important events.  Therefore, we have chosen to go through the process now of "re-adopting."  Wait, let me rephrase that:  I think it's called "recognition of foreign adoption."  In any case, when we are finished, she will have a "record of foreign birth."  Still not a birth certificate, but something that will have our names on there as her parents and will work like a birth certificate.  I am also getting ready to work on getting a social security number for her.  I learned today that I must physically go to a social security office with many papers in order to get this done.  I'm going to try and get this done next week.  Should be a fun outing - not.

Olivia went to day care for the first time today, and she did great!  I had planned to leave her there for only 3 hours (after lunch), but when I called the school, they said she was doing great!  So, I decided to leave her a little longer and see if she would take a nap.  I was concerned that she might have trouble around nap time and expected a phone call after lunch.  But, she did great during nap time and stayed the whole day!  This little girl is just amazing, and I am so proud!  (Ansley went in and checked on her once during the day and reported back that she was painting.)  She has a fascination with washing her hands (running water) and now with the potty.  

Both girls enjoy going to the swimming pool and are swimming very well.  

We go tomorrow morning for Olivia's dental surgery.  I have already gotten a little taste of what it's going to be like for the rest of our lives not having any family or medical history.  I have fielded two phone calls from the surgical center asking questions about her medical past and her family history.  All of my answers were, "Not to my knowledge."  I had to eventually stop the ladies and explain the situation.  They were both very understanding, but it didn't help them with what they needed to know.  With all of that said, we aren't sure what to expect tomorrow.  She will be going under general anesthesia.  Please say a little prayer that all goes well; I'm a little concerned with how she will do when she wakes up.  I've heard from other parents to expect a lot of tears, and some possible sickness.  We pray that these 2 teeth are not infecting her other teeth, and we pray that he is able to cap them and not have to extract them.  But, if we need to extract for her overall health, we will.  We are supposed to be there at 9am and should be finished around noon.  She is not able to eat or drink anything after midnight tonight, so also please pray for our morning.  She typically wakes up very hungry and is not going to be happy in the morning when she can't have ANYTHING. Philip is going to take Ansley out for breakfast in the morning before she goes to school.  That way, Olivia won't see her eating anything.  I will do my best to post an update tomorrow night.

I am sorry that this is such a long post!!  Thanks, as always, for your support!!

Take care,