Talking Points of a Rheumatoid Patient

Last night I spoke and participated in an Arthritis Foundation event to help people learn how to effectively communicate with their doctors. A Rheumatologist and an aquatic therapist spoke as well. I thought I'd blog my talking points, or at least some of them.

I was diagnosed 18 yrs ago as a senior in high school. At the time, I had my pediatric Rheumatologist, a nurse practitioner, and my parents to advocate for me and manage my health care. A few months later, I headed off 1,000 miles away to college. I had to quickly learn how to deal with a chronic illness, change to adult Rheumatology, manage health care, manage my college classes, my finances, and be my own advocate. I didn't always manage all of this so well, but I got better with time. More adjustments came four years later when I graduated, married, entered the workforce, and started a family.
I hate asking for help and am typically a stubborn person. Asking for help became necessary when my chubby two year old could outrun my swollen joints. She probably rode in a stroller longer than most children just to keep her contained and safe. I remember a time when I was not getting my point across very well to my doctor. Keeping a journal of the things I could not do along with short and long term goals really helped. The next doctor's appointment, I took this list in to him. I think it gave him a better picture of my home life when I told him I could not get down on the floor to play with my daughter and get both of us back up again. Building that patient-doctor relationship is so important especially when dealing with a chronic illness.
Having a chronic illness does not mean that you can't achieve your goals and do the things you want to do. Rheumatoid has affected the way I do things. However, I still stay busy trekking my kids from point A to point B, keep a relatively clean house, volunteer at school and in my community, and spent 7 1/2 weeks in Kazakhstan bringing my son home by myself. I like to say that Rheumatoid has not affect my life or my family's life, but it has. I can say that it has not consumed my life.

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City of Brotherly Love (picture heavy)

Our walking tour of Philadelphia was great. We crammed a lot into one school day, and the kids were TIRED by the time we finished!


Here is Ally at the Liberty Bell


I thought this picture was cool. This is a picture of Kazakh ambassadors at the Liberty Bell wearing their traditional attire. Cool!


Hope some REALLY SKINNY people lived here!



Ahh, Betsy! A tour wouldn't be complete without visiting her. I wonder how many flags she has sewn while sitting in her courtyard.

On another random note, my dossier is in China! Hooray! Tonight I am speaking, along with a Rheumatologist and aquatic therapist, to a group at our local hospital. I will have to post my thoughts tomorrow.

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Amazing Race Time!!!!!!!!!!!!




OH YEAH! Amazing Race is finally on. Thank you, CBS, for airing my addiction. I love this show! I love living vicariously through all of the contestants and seeing all of the places I want to go. I've been following this show, every season, since I was in Kazakhstan. There was an American woman there who worked for CBS. She kept me updated on the show from her friends. Love it!

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FUNDRAISER!


This pile of STUFF is a portion of my yard sale goods for my fundraising yard sale. I have some more coming and my mom's garage is packed with some goodies too! A very dear friend came over and helped me tag things with prices and even brought me a yummy iced coffee too. Now I feel like I am a little more set for my October 10 yard sale! Let's hope it goes well.

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Things I Learned from my Last Adoption

Here are some of the things I learned from our last adoption:

1. Agency Contracts give lots of wiggle room to change fees at any time.
2. Never ask "how" something will be expedited especially if it is associated with a large fee.
3. You always think that the next phase of your adoption will be easier but find yourself just as stressed out and miserable.
4. Travel dates can change at a second's notice despite being completely packed and walking out the door to go to the airport.....trust me on this one!
5. You're afraid to let go and love the little face peeking back at you until you can physically hold him in your arms.
6. God is the only One who is with you wherever you go and the only One who can move your paperwork!
7. The adoption community is filled with supportive people who will freely offer help and advice.
8. While in-country, a $20 bill can get you documents that would otherwise take an insurmountable amount of time....And, sometimes, not so much. But several $20 bills could make the difference!
9. The foreign country's idea of "on-time" and our idea are completely different.
10. There is no ice in all of Kazakhstan.

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One Proud Momma

My kiddos played hard on Saturday.

Grant had some big hits and big plays in his t-ball game. Everyone knew he must be mine because not only did I stand on the field to take my pictures, but I also yelled like a crazy woman cheering him on. Looks like I don't need that t-shirt after all.



This is the face of a 10 yr. old girl who made her first goal in soccer! I may have broken some eardrums with my ear-piercing scream. Yeah, definitely don't need that t-shirt. Everyone knows they belong to me!

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God Certainly Moves Mountains!

Almaty, Kazakhstan 2004



Once again, God has shown us how He makes things happen! The Bible says that faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains. I'd like to think that after all these years and all the things God has done for us, that my faith is bigger than a mustard seed. I know, however, that sometimes my anxiety and worry over a situation can cloud my vision of faith. Yet, God never fails, does He?

We received our I-797C, which is our approval from the U.S. Govt. to bring an orphan (hate that word) into the States. Wa-hoooo!!!!!! So very happy and feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Today, I'm not thinking about that 3 month agonizing wait to hear if China has approved us. I'm just enjoying the victory of the day. Soon I'll be posting that my dossier is on its way to China AND I will be able to meet my CCAA Oct. 6 deadline. Here I was just so worried that we wouldn't make the deadline at all. However, God made sure that not only did we make our deadline but had time to spare. Nothing short of amazing!

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"He's Mine"

Tonight was the first practice for t-ball. Grant LOVES t-ball. He is actually very good, and I'm not just "mommy bragging". Hit pounded that ball time after time into the outfield. One of the coaches even stood in left field and asked Grant to hit it to him. Grant nodded that oversized helmet to say "yes". Then, KAPOW. Outta the park! People began looking around while saying things like, "Sign him up!", and "He even has the stance right!". They were looking around for his parent......his Asian parent? Or am I getting ahead of myself? Now, I'm a very proud momma to both my wonderful kids. People can place Allyson and myself together. They cannot place Grant and myself together. I'm so proud of him all the time, but there are just times when you want to yell, "He's mine!". Is it so wrong of me to get a t-shirt with Grant's picture on it that says, "I'm his momma!"?

One noted quote from Grant today: "I'm a man! Boy, man, same difference. They're the same thing!". Ahhh, so true, so true.

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Some News, Please?

My agency called NBC today on my behalf. My deadline was explained to them. NBC was not aware that we had our fingerprints done. Hmmm.....
Anyhoo, the officer said she was going to "get right on it" and would expedite our paperwork due to the circumstances. She also said that if she had any questions she would call my agency right away. No definite date of WHEN they would finish reviewing things and give me my I797C, but at least they know my hurry. I should know tomorrow if the Chinese Embassy is finished with the rest of the dossier. AND I am sending a nice, fat check to my agency for dossier review, translation, and dossier submission tomorrow. Everything might not be completely together, but they are at least moving ahead.

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Pronunciation and the Name Game

My agency emailed me back and told me how to say San'er's name. It is just pronounced "San R".
We are keeping his Chinese name and seem to be calling him by that name since we can't agree on an American name. Here are some choices:
Blake
Jackson
Levi
Micah
Caleb
Kai
Caden

I know I've posted about names before, but we still can't seem to nail one down. So tell me what name you like, or let me know of any other names that are cool. My husband would like to stick with a one syllable name, but I'm certainly not stuck on that. What do you think?

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How do you know who belongs to you?

I have had this post in my drafts for some time. It is a little difficult putting emotions down on "paper", but here it goes.
Eric and I sent three LONG days in Kazakhstan trying to find Grant. In Kazakhstan, referrals are not legit. So you hop on a plane and find your child while in country. We were shown several children, spent time with them, saw many more children.....you get the idea. But, no child was ours. We were frustrated and disappointed. I knew he had to be there somewhere! Then we went into a room with ten or so sleeping toddlers. There he was, folks. Laying in the crib with a chubby butt sticking up in the air, thumb in mouth was my kid. Eric and I knew right away. There was no discussion. When I held him, I felt those same emotions that I felt when I held Allyson for the first time. We were glad we stuck to our guns and kept looking for him.

I honestly don't know what or how I should feel when I look at San'er. I am not in love with him yet probably because I am so afraid that something will go wrong. I have almost allowed myself to fall in love with him. I don't want to feel like I lost someone if our adoption turns sour. I do know that my heart REALLY wants to be allowed to look at that sweet picture of him and fall in love, and I really want him to be my son. I never put any expectations on myself with my feelings toward Grant. I knew they would just come automatically. Whether it was love at first sight or if I grew to love him over time, it wouldn't matter in the end. I would love him either way. It wasn't love at first sight when I met my husband. We had to get to know each other. Love came later. So I am allowing myself to feel whatever emotions come whenever they come. Whether it is love at first sight with San'er, whether I allow myself to love him now, or whether it takes time to get to know him and love him, it doesn't matter. He will be loved any way it comes.

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Fundraising Ideas

We are a little short for this adoption, and we really do not want to have to get a loan to pay for it. We are aware of the adoption tax credit and my husband's company's adoption benefit. However, I was REALLY hoping that I would be able to sell our like new, barely used, top of the line hot tub to help out. But despite my wonderful adjectives describing the stupid thing, it hasn't sold. It isn't for lack of trying. I am also planning on having a yard sale and asking family/friends to donate any junk..ahem, I mean, priceless treasures. I considered making and selling some kind of "red thread" bracelet, but that may have fizzled out. I've added adsense to my blog to help out as well. (who are we kidding with that one!) However, I need something that will offer a more substantial total to my adoption fund. I am thinking that my husband's salary would be considered too much for any grants, but I can try. Hoping I find time to do this soon! Any ideas out there that my bloggy buddies have heard of or tried? We also are trying to do this in a way that doesn't scream, "Help Bring Our Son HOME!"and plaster his picture everywhere. After all, people don't do this when they have a bio baby. I realize there is a difference there due to the fact that insurance does not cover adoption costs. I still see a line that I do not want to cross with that. So what are your thoughts? Where is the line drawn that marks your child as a charity case versus friends/family just helping out? AND any fund raising ideas?

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Go O's!

We had free tickets to the Orioles game yesterday. Omi and Grandpop met us there. Grant took some pics of Baltimore and the game for us.

Camden Yards



Can anyone NOT LIVING IN MARYLAND guess who's infamous number this is?
(He asked me to take this one for him)

Grant's view



Inner Harbor
Grant was happy that he got TWO boats in one shot!


Another one of Grant's views

Yup, another ship

He's just so darn cute!
Hmmm.....no pics of mommy in his shots either. Oh well, could be a good thing.


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Happy Birthday, Dad!


Today is my dad's birthday. You know, the guy that read the American's Creed and the Declaration of Independence to my daughter when she was just a few months old. He used to watch her for me when I went to work and I don't think he ever put her down. He always has time for a game of checkers or chess or Candyland with Grant. Dad always works hard even today. I remember him working two jobs sometimes throughout my childhood so I could have a good education and top rate music lessons. He can change a diaper with the best of them and can fix just about anything. He made my wood steps on my stairs. Does little "fix it" things around my house. He is a great dad and a great Poppy. We love you, Dad! Happy Birthday!

love,
me


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On It's Way to Washington D.C.

My dossier (sans INS approval) is on its way to Washington D.C. where it will be lovingly carried to the U.S. Department of State for a little tour and then the Chinese Embassy for a week long stay. For some reason, the Chinese Embassy is only doing 7 day processing next week. Either way, after my dossier's visit, it will be traveling to my agency via FedEx for a final check and then it's off to China! Now if I could only get that INS approval.

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Feeling Better

I am still waiting on one document to be authenticated and returned. Otherwise, with the exception of the INS approval notice, my dossier is ready to be sent through the Dept. of State and the Chinese Embassy. Then it will be off to China. Now about the INS approval notice.... I received my receipt from them stating that they had my paperwork and that I paid my fees. Eric and I took our chances today and walked in our local immigration office without an appointment in hopes they would agree to see us. I explained our situation and showed them our pre-approval notice from China with our deadline date on it. They called the main USCIS office in Chicago to verify that we were okay to fingerprint and they did it! YEAH!!!!! On the "Rumor Queen" website, people are showing that their approval date has been about 5 days or so after their fingerprinting is done. We'll see!
In other news, our foreign adoption fees increased by $450 and our expedited dossier fees are going to cost a pretty penny to finish too. I'm just glad I made good progress today!

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