Thursday, March 31, 2011

Troop Send Off and Initial Home Visit

Yesterday I went with Sam and some people from his work to the troop send off.  Their were about 25-30 people from his work where we were standing (when you consider that he works in Perry, which is 30 minutes away from Stillwater, that's pretty good).  I'm thankful that he works for a company that allows it's employees to attend events such as this.  The reason these guys (and a couple of ladies) wanted to come over was partly to thank the people leaving for deployment and partly to support their boss, April, because her husband was on one of the buses.  I know this is selfish, but I'm glad my husband isn't in the armed forces.  I couldn't imagine watching a bus drive by knowing that he was on it and I wouldn't see him again for 400 days.  I am forever grateful to the men and women who make this sacrifice, both those being deployed and the families they leave behind.  Thank you just isn't enough. 

Last night was our initial home visit.  There isn't much to report on it other than we both felt it went well.  The only things she suggested before the home study are to put child locks on cabinets with cleaning supplies, post emergency numbers on the fridge, and draw up our fire evacuation plan (seriously, what kid-less house has those things already in place?  Oh, and thanks, Dad, for all the smoke detectors and fire extinguishers over the years, they came in handy last night :).  We have to put a sticker at the children's eye level on the glass doors so the kids know they are there, but she marked that we are ok right now because Bella leaves nose prints at that level (yes, she said that... so much for cleaning the doors earlier in the day).  She also left us with more papers including the cards for fingerprints, medical examination report, financial assessment, health history assessment, family/parent questionnaire.  The family/parent questionnaire is nine pages long and includes questions such as "Tell us something about your childhood and the people who reared you."  "I married my spouse because..." "I know I can irritate my spouse when..." and "The best/worst time of day at our house is..."  Wow, I feel like we are preparing for a test.  Sam said that I get to do most of the talking at the home study since I know the "teacher response."  Our caseworker, Maggie, said that after the two home studies are completed they will have 30-40 typed pages of information on us, I told her we probably won't have that many since we really aren't that interesting.  We also talked some about the Life Book that we have to make.  I have a question to those of you who have been through the adoption process, did you make the book geared towards the children or the caseworker?  She said that either way is OK, I just can't decide which one to do.  For those of you who don't know, the Life Book is a 3-5 page photo scrapbook about us that can include our family, pets, home, vacations, close friends, anything we want the kids and their caseworker to see.  Please pray that this process moves quickly, Maggie said it could take anywhere from a couple of months to a couple of years .

Friday, March 25, 2011

Paperwork Pregnancy - Month 2

Since the main reason I started this blog was to keep people up to date with our adoption process, I thought it might be a good idea to let you know how it's going.  I've decided to count February 10 as the start date for our "paperwork pregnancy" since that is the day that we received our first packet of paperwork to fill out (even though there were many phone calls and e-mails prior to that date).  We have completed the first round of paperwork (I think it was something like 20 pages) and background checks.  Our initial home visit is scheduled for Tuesday, March 29 (which means I will spend all weekend cleaning :), this visit is a precursor to the home study that will happen sometime in the near future, at the initial home visit our caseworker will bring us even more paperwork and background check forms.  We begin parenting classes on Tuesday, April 19.  They are every Tuesday and Thursday from 6-9 for four and a half weeks.  Denise, my good friend and mentor when I was teaching, is the instructor for the parenting course, so this could be interesting (I'm just glad that Amanda, the other founding member of Team One, won't be in class with me so I won't be laughing the whole time, I'm sure Denise appreciates this too :).  We're excited to finally be seeing some progress in this crazy journey!

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Step Towards Healing

This weekend I held a baby.  Up to that day I hadn't held any children within a couple months of Aubrey's age.  It's not because I didn't have the opportunity, I just couldn't bring myself to do it.  This time was different, I was at a Piggies and Paws party in Lawton and have no clue who her parents are other than the fact that we were at the same person's house at the same time.  When the twins and their older sister walked in there was something about this little girl that made me ache inside so I offered to hold her while her parents looked at the print options.  I then asked questions about her age and gestation at birth and realized why I was so attached to her.  This was a baby girl born at the end of May at 33 weeks.  She and her twin brother were conceived at the same clinic we use at the end of October  meaning she was conceived about the same time Aubrey was and born about the same time as Aubrey.    The whole time I was holding her I kept thinking, "I wish Sam could see this little girl."  That evening when I was telling Sam about holding her he wanted to know everything about her like how big she was and if she was crawling yet, it was so cute how much he cared.  Luckily her parents were nice and, after I explained myself a little, didn't mind the crazy lady who was holding their daughter with tears trickling down her cheeks.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The 'B' Word

There are a couple of words you don't say around the Parks' house unless you really mean it.  The 'B' word is one of them.  What word am I talking about?  I'm talking about the word bath!  I don't know why, but our dogs love baths!  I made the mistake of mentioning earlier that I might give them a bath this afternoon and it was on, anytime I started to walk to that end of the house they ran past me and stood at the bathroom door. 

We have a routine when it comes to bath time and it goes something like this.  First, I sneak into the bathroom to get out their shampoo and take out the bathmats.  Then I get a few towels out of the hall closet (because I don't want to use my good towels on them).  When they see me get the towels Rufus starts spinning and I worry that Bella's tail is going to knock a hole in the wall.  We then enter the bathroom together.  I open the shower and Rufus hops in.  Rufus drinks water like he hasn't had anything to drink in a week while I adjust the temperature.  I wash Rufus while Bella supervises over my shoulder.  After I wash Rufus I turn off the water, at this point Bella starts getting really excited because she knows that her turn is next.  While I towel dry Rufus, Bella climbs into the bathtub and stands patiently waiting for me to wash her.  I then climb in the bathtub with Bella and shut the shower door so Rufus won't jump back in (that boy LOVES water).  I don't know if any of you have ever given a Great Dane a bath or not, but it's no small task, to say I end up wet would be an understatement I would love to be able to give her a bath without getting wet, but she's so big she can't turn around in the bathtub, thus I have to reach over her, thus I get wet.  Just for laughs, here is a picture of Bella in the bathtub.

Have I ever mentioned that small spaces make Bella nervous and that she licks her lips when she's nervous?  

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Happy Birthday, Bella! (a Couple of Days Early)

Wow, our big girl will be 5 Saturday!  In honor of her birthday, here are some fun facts about Bella:
~  Her favorite food is strawberry yogurt followed closely by popcorn and cheese (not together).
~  Her height, measured to the top of her shoulder, is 32 inches.
~  At 120 pounds, she weighs almost exactly 100 pounds more than Rufus.
~  Her favorite place to sit is on someone's lap.
~  She likes to "sit" on furniture while keeping all four legs on the ground.
~  She loves little dogs, although she normally doesn't get to play with them because I'm afraid she'll step on them.
~  Bella hardly ever barks (as in she will go days without barking once) and when she does it's a beautiful, deep bark.  
~  Although she doesn't bark, Bella will "talk" to us when she wants something.  It's hard to describe how she talks in words, but it's kind of a gurgle in her throat similar to how Scooby Doo (another Great Dane) talks. 
~  She doesn't lick often, instead she puts her nose to your cheek.
~  Bella LOVES hugs!  We call it a "Bella hug" when she rests her head on your leg or shoulder. :)
~  Bella HATES getting dirty!  She will go out of her way to walk around mud puddles.  In fact, we have to force her to go outside when it's raining. 
~  9:30 is her bedtime, every night around this time she gets up from the living room floor and goes to bed unprompted.
~  Like all giant breeds, Bella tends to lean on stuff, especially people.
~  Bella's favorite people are me, Sam, Aaron VanDolah and her Aunt Moo.
~  She doesn't like to take pictures.  When I pull out the camera her normally perky ears get laid flat against her head.
~  Bella also dislikes guns.  I don't know how she knows what they are, but she always barks at them, even if Sam just has one lying on the table while cleaning it.  

One of the first pictures we have of Bella, taken when she was about 3 months old.

I tried to get Sam to recreate this picture, but he declined.  It's hard to believe she was once small enough to lay on us.

Look at those ears!!!  I'm so glad we didn't get them cropped.

 This is my favorite puppy picture of Bella.

Bella's 1st birthday!

Her favorite place to lay in the living room.

Even though she's normally very docile, Bella does have a playful side.

And there you have it,  more information than you ever cared to know about our sweet Isabella.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Who Dun It, Horse Races, & Crafting

Friday night we went to a Who Dun It mystery dinner with Blake and Mindy.  Who Dun It is a group that puts on comedy murder mystery plays at various restaurants in the Oklahoma City area (our's was at Ted's Cafe Escondido).  Blake and I worked together to surprise Mindy with a fun evening for their 2nd anniversary and even though Mom spilled the beans and told her that Sam and I were going on the date with them, Mindy didn't know where we were going until that night.  As I sometimes like to do, I'll tell this story mostly with pictures.

Who dun it?  We don't know yet...

Part of the cast, Doc Doomsday, Jimmy Eastwood (the singing narrator), and Willie Jitters.

Sam was harassed by the cast mid-show.

I might have told them that it was Mindy and Blake's anniversary when I made the reservation.

She dun it (Miss Fanny Swatter, the school marm who just happens to be an elementary principal in real life).

Having a great time at Madaam Yawanna Yahoo's Saloon!

Our guys were such good sports the whole night!

After dinner, Sam received a call from one of his friends, Aaron, telling us that he was at Remington Park watching the horse races and my parents were there too.  We decided that since we were already down in "the city" we should go watch the races too.  We managed to get there two races before Grandpa's horse ran (who just happened to come in 2nd!) which was great because it was REALLY cold and I wouldn't have wanted to stand outside for much longer.  (Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures from the race track.)

Saturday Sam and I got up and drove to Tulsa so I could have a crafting day with my friend Jessica while Sam hung out with his friend, and Jessica's husband, Rocky. 

I might have packed up well over half of my craft closet to take with us, and we might have stayed up until 3:20 in the morning crafting (the boys fell asleep in the living room waiting on us to go to bed :). 

Here are the goodies from our 24 hour craftathon (we did take breaks to eat, sleep, and shop for fabric).  We made (clockwise from top left) a carseat cover, super hero cape, hooded bath towel, crayon keepers, newborn hats, stenciled onesie, more newborn hats, a korker ribbon bow, and another crayon keeper.  All in all, it was a GREAT weekend!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Their Love (Well, His Love for Her)

I can only hope that someday my kids will love each other as much as Rufus loves Bella.  It's funny to watch him because once Bella lays down Rufus either plops down next to her or inches his way over.  He loves her so much he even licks her face clean nightly (I know, it's probably because it tastes good, at least that's what Sam says, but I just want to believe he is showing his love).  How do I know Bella loves Rufus in return?  I know because she let's him do all this stuff.  If you've ever been around Bella you know that she wants to do what she wants to do.  We try to keep her in check, but sometimes it's hard to convince a dog the size of a human that she wants the same thing as you.  

Look at his little paw.   He likes to be touching her, even when they are playing with different toys.  (This is their favorite game, it's called "pull the stuffing out of the toy as fast as you can."  This game is the reason we have so many stuffed animal carcasses at our house.)

They are just so content together.

Aww, puppy yawns.

OK, OK, enough about the dogs.  I have a couple of crafting "dates" this weekend (if you count Thursday as a weekend day) as well as a hot date with the hubs Friday so I should actually have interesting stuff to share with you next week. :)