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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

First Dance Class!

Ever since we saw my niece dance at a recital, Madi has been asking to sign up for dance class.  I went in to our local community center (Conner does karate there) and talked to the instructor about modifying the class for her.  She was totally on board so we signed Madi up.  Today was her first day and she was all smiles!  She was totally on cloud 9!  Here's a photo and a video from her first day...


So fun!!  It is ballet and tap, so we are going to bring her little clickers to use with her hands during the tap part :).

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Day ____ Home... Wait, What Day is it Anyway?!?!?

My days have gotten all mixed up, that's for sure!  In some ways, things still feel so very new, and in others, it feels like we have been a family of 5 all along.  We are getting down a routine and our new normal is starting to feel just, well, normal.  Conner informed me yesterday that things are back to normal, so I know the kids are feeling more in the "grove" too.  Both Conner and Madi are very excited to show off their new sister.  They are very proud of her!  It's crazy to me that I haven't even truly known Ramya a month now, but I am already so in love with her. 

We have our good moments and our not-so-good moments, but our good far outweigh the rough ones.  Today was a great day, and I wasn't so sure it would be, so I was pleasantly surprised.  We still haven't been back to Church, and were planning to go this week, but one of the kiddo's best friends, Viveka, was turning 5, and we really wanted to be at her party.  They are moving to India in a few weeks and we will miss them greatly.  I knew Church and the party would be way to much (and feared the party alone may be!), so we opted out of Church to spend some time with our friends before their move. 

Tomorrow Ramya has an appointment with the pediatrician to get her established there and to make sure she doesn't have anything yucky she has brought home from the orphanage (ring worm, lice, parasites, and all that fun stuff ;)).  We have a good amount of appointments coming up this next few weeks, so I am extra thankful for the meals that have been coming in from friends and family.  I know David appreciates something a little more fancy than eggs, Costco chicken apple sausages, and/or chicken, since I haven't been able to make nice dinners too often since we've been home.  We are getting there, though! 

In other news, I think Madi is allergic/sensitive to eggs :(.  Considering we are gluten and dairy free already (due to sensitivies), and considering eggs is one of the few protiens Madi loves to eat, I'm pretty bummed.  I had noticed Madi started getting a rash around her mouth, but kind of brushed it off.  I started noticing a pattern to it, though, and I'm about 99% sure it's eggs.  We get local, fresh, un-washed eggs, but we were out, so I bought some from the store on Tuesday.  Madi ate two scrambled that night (nothing added, just scrambled plain, no milk) and right away got very red and rashy all around the mouth.  That night she slept terrible.  I thought maybe it was something to do with those eggs in particular, and thought it would be fine when she had our local eggs back.  The next day our local eggs were delivered so I made her some.  Right away, she got very red and rashy around the mouth again.  I thought maybe, just maybe, it was from the catsup or something and just kind of kept it in the back of my mind.  She slept terrible again that night.  Yesterday I gave her a boiled egg (local eggs like she always eats) with nothing at all on it.  Sure enough, totally red all around the mouth, and last night she was up all nigh in pain.  And I do mean all night (yawn).  Darn.  I'm going to get her tested and hope to have some more "concrete" results soon. 

I realized I never posted our last batch of photos, so here you go (my mom has a few more on her camera I need to get off, but I haven't yet).  Better late than never, right??



Thursday, February 21, 2013

Oh What a Day!

Whew, what a day!

I'm realizing that I have to pay super close attention to our schedule and changes, because what just feels normal and not busy to me, feels different to Ramya.  Today Madi went back to preschool for the first time since we have been back (they had Tuesday off for conferences and my mom brought her last Thursday).  When we dropped Madi off Ramya seemed ok, as well as during pick-ups, but of course, this meant a change to our routine.  Next we had a visitor that came by for a bit to spend time with us.  Ramya wanted to sit on her lap, because my kids were, but we decided she should set her next to her instead (more on this later) and that worked out.  She left and Madi's therapist came, which is the first therapist we have had in the house since we have been home (other than Madi's respite worker, Amy, but Amy has adopted children as well, so she knows just how to handle herself/situations to make sure that she is encouraging our attachment and bonding), and we also did a quick stop at the grocery store.  This was just wayyyyyyy too much for one day.  When the early evening came, so did the defiance.  We had lots of "no's" and some throwing of things, and then of course came the time-in, which lasted way longer than it should have due to more defiance.  After that was all said and done, the impulsiveness came out in full force.  She was in my arms and happy again, but was just having a hard time settling down and calming.  I did some deep pressure sensory input on her, we ate, and I massaged her with coconut oil, and she finally started relaxing.  After we got ready for bed, we had some more defiance and another time-in, and then finally got to bed, where it took her a while to fall asleep because she was still wound up.


On the plus side, today I was "mom" or "mommy" at least half of the day.  Woooo hooo!  David has mostly been "dad" for a few days now, but I was only getting an occasional mom or mommy from her.  Today, though, I got it quite a bit!  It's what my momma heart needed to still have a smile on my face at the end of today ;).

I also learned some interesting things on attachment today.  I wasn't sure how to handle the lap-sitting thing, as our visitor is someone close to us who she has seen before and who will be around often.  I know that she wanted to sit with her because Conner and Madi were, and because she is becoming familliar, but I also know this is pretty early and that we aren't ready yet.  We decided to have her sit next to her, instead of on her lap, and then to have our visitor ask her if she needed mommy.  It wasn't totally smooth, but it worked.

I thought I should ask around to see what people said about when it is ok to start letting her sit on other people's laps and to be held by people who are close and who are not strangers to us.  Basically the consensus was that there is no exact time, but that it will be a long time (like at least 6 months), and even after it's been a while, it should still be done conservatively.

The reasoning behind this is because she has had nothing but caregivers that come and go and has nothing but change after change (3 orphanages, multiple hospital stays, and her move to us).  She will see people that come, especially people in our family that are close and come often, as other caregivers that come and go, if we aren't careful about making sure that they don't hold her, feed her, have her sit on our laps, etc....  This, though, also makes it seem more like we are just one of many caregivers, instead of her PRIMARY caregivers/parents.  She's had almost 6 years of change, so she doesn't know what permanent feels like.  She also doesn't get friend vs caregiver or caregiver vs mom and dad, who or how to trust, etc...  Because Ramya is at a higher risk of attachment disorder due to all of the moves and changes in her life, we have to be even more vigilant and careful.  Sometimes this may feel awkward, and sometimes it may be hard,  but the chance of having long-term issues will be less if we are really careful now, so that's big and worth it!

Here are some good articles on attaching with children who are adopted:

Good general tips....

On adopting older children...

Tips for parents...

I am also learning that it is important for me to take better care of myself to be the momma I need to be to all 3 of my little ones.  For me, this means going to bed at an earlier time.  Before, I could go to bed at midnight or so, wake up at 7:30 or 7:45 with the kiddos, and feed great, even if I was woken up during the night.  Now, though, I have an extra one to wake me up at night, an extra one to wake me up early, and things just take longer and more energy.  I am totally ok with this, but I know it will be important to stay caught up on sleep, so my new goal is to be in bed by about 10:30 (9 more minutes before I have to go to bed... I better hurry!!), at least until the newness of this all has settled and the jet-lag is far behind me :).

Next week our doctor appointments start and I am excited to get a little more feedback on what we can do to help Ramya.  I'm so thankful we have a good team of doctors ready for her!


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Medical "Stuff"

I realized I never posted about Ramya's medical "stuff" so I thought I'd share tonight.  Ramya has spina bifida, as Madi does.  Both have the most severe, but also most common, form, myelomeningocele.  Generally speaking, the level of paralysis a person has depends on where their level of lesion was.  If you look at the photo below, you will get an idea of what I mean...

Madi functions at about an L2 level, meaning she has movement in her hips but not much below.  Ramya has a lower level, I would guess about an L4-L5.  She has movement through her knees, but not in her feet/ankles.  She can stand and bear weight, but her ankles and knees do not support her for long without her leg braces.
Ramya has hydrocephalus, as Madi does.  Madi has a VP shunt (meaning the shunt goes in to her head and drains in her abdomen) on the left hand side.  Ramya has one as well, though hers is on the right hand side.  Because her hair is so short, it is very prominent, whereas you wouldn't know Madi had one unless you knew to feel for it.
Ramya had two clubbed feet and had surgery to correct them.  Madi had a clubbed foot as well, but she was treated using a slightly newer method, the ponsetti method, where they did serial casting to gently move them in place over time. 
Ramya had renal reflux, like Madi has, and was getting infections, so they did a bladder surgery to correct it.  We knew about this surgery, though we didn't want to do it until we got her home.  Apparently they also did another surgery, one where you cath through the belly button.  This is a fairly common surgery for those with spina bifida, because it makes it easier for people to cath themselves.  The problem, though, is that 1- I don't have the supplies to cath her this way and 2- things don't look right to me, so I'm wondering if it is either closing up or was not done correctly.  They did cath her through there at the orphanage, but it took many attempts and tugs in and out, and she looked very uncomfortable during it.  We go in to the urologist pretty soon and we will do an ultrasound to see what all was done and be able to tell if everything is working like it should be.  I do still cath her, but I do it the "traditional" way, like I do for Madi.  They would leave the cath in overnight for 10 hours, and not cath during the day, but I cath her 4 x a day and not at night, since that is more what is recommended here in the States.
Another surgery Ramya has had done is one where they put a little port in at the top of your bowels so that you can (literally) flush your system out to keep clean.  Again, I haven't done this before and don't have the supplies for it, but also, the doctor in India said he thinks it is closed.  Sigh.  It's a huge not fun surgery, so I really hope it wasn't all for nothing.  It makes me sad to think that no one was there to sit with her while she was recovering and in pain, and that it may have all been for nothing, because she may just need surgery again.  Grrrrrr......
I noticed an odd scar on her upper abdominal area and it turns out she had been sick and not eating well, so apparently they just did surgery to give her a g-tube.  After she got better, she started eating again, so they took it out.  Why the heck they would put her through all that is beyond me, but again, since I wasn't there to ask questions and advocate for her, so it just got done.
Another thing I noticed is a bunch of little round scars/marks all over her arms and legs.  It looks like she must have had the chickenpox or something similar at one point.  It's odd, though, because they have been vaccinating her for that still.  I'm interested to see what the pediatrician thinks it is from when we go in for our first visit.  

Emotionally, Ramya is at maybe a 2 year-old level.  She may be slightly higher, between 2 and 3.  This is pretty much what I expected, so it's no surprise to me at all.  I try to take things at her level and understand that is where she is, for now.  Sometimes it takes lots of reminding myself that even though her body is big, her emotional development doesn't match.  I just try to keep that in the forefront of my mind so that I am more patient and understanding when problems arise and so that I can set realistic expectations.

Ramya is fairly tall.  She is significantly shorter than Conner, but she is also taller than Madi.  She is so very thin, though, like a little bean pole.  She gets cold very easily because she 1- she isn't used to cold weather and 2- she doesn't have any body fat to keep her warm.  I'm working on fattening her up a little though ;).

We have appointments coming up quickly to try and evaluate where she is at and what she needs.  I have the pediatrician, orthopedic surgeon, and urologist booked and will call the neurosurgeon's office tomorrow to book that as well.

For now, life chugs along.  I'm very exhausted after Madi was up all night not feeling well ( for dinner she didn't like what was served so she ate some eggs we had just bought from the store and her face got all red around her mouth pretty much instantly after eating them, and then she was up about every hour that night....crazy!!  I'm not sure what that is about because that's never happened with the eggs we get locally).  Ramya is doing well.  I still hold her a lot but she sits and plays with me in the same room now as well.  She still wants to sit on my lap to eat and still likes to be fed.  She is eating pretty well and I am thankful for that!

That's about it!  I will update when I know more for the specialists :)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Day 3 Home: An Unplanned Adventure Out

I know I can't keep up blogging daily much longer, but I am trying to show a realistic picture of our lives to help out others who may be considering, or are in the process, of adopting.  I also like keeping our friends and family in the loops, since you guys have been walking our journey with us since the beginning.

I was a little worried about how today would go after our rough morning start.  Ramya had a hard time listening this morning.  Instead of time-outs, where we would separate ourselves from her, we do time-ins, where we stay close, when she just won't listen.  Well, we had to do about 3 of them this morning in a span of maybe 25 minutes.  We are working on accepting no and listening, and I know that is something that will just take a while.  I have to remind myself that Ramya may be 5, but emotionally, she is much younger.  When she's in "a mood", she will look right at me and do what I asked her not to, then gets really upset when she has to sit out (close to me).  It's nothing that surprises me at all and I know we'll continue to work through it, but that it will just take some time.  Heck, I still work on that with Conner and Madi too!

We all stayed home from Church together today to spend time as a family.  We went on a wagon walk together and she really loved it.  Conner, of course, got a little tired of walking, so we ended up with 3 in our wagon :).

At 2:00, I sent Conner and Madi off with David for a birthday party.  Turns out, the party wasn't until 4, so David came back.  While they were gone, I took Ramya to the grocery store and wore her in the Ergo while I shopped (she's been asking to be worn in the front, not the back, she knows just what she wants!!).  We got what we needed and came home, but she asked about Conner and Madi the entire time.  She was VERY excited when they came home.  We played outside a bit with the neighbor kiddos and Ramya loved the battery-operated princess car.  Madi rode her Amtryke (we have one for Ramya too, it just needs the bolts put in it), and Conner rode his bike with the neighbor boy.
(Don't ask me about Conner's outfit.  That kid's got a style all of his own, but I love it!)

It came time for the kids and David to leave again, and we decided to just all go as a family and hope for the best, with the understanding that 1- I would hold her or sit by her the whole time, 2- We wouldn't have anyone else hold her, and 3- We may have to take her out and sit in the car with her or just leave and head home early.  We talked to Conner and Madi and let them know we were going as a family but that we may have to leave early, and they were fine with that.  Ramya was quiet, but quite curious during the party.  She was in my arms or on my lap the majority of the time.  The only time she left was to crawl off and get a toy, but she brought it back and sat with me while she played with it.  She really enjoyed the spaghetti, meatballs, and bread.  She ate a whole plate full!  Towards the end she asked to go outside and started getting a little cranky so we headed out.  Overall she did really well though!  It was nice to get out as a family and relax with friends.  I asked her if she had fun with her friends and she gave me a big smile and nodded her head "yes".  She is very social and enjoys being around other people. 
So far sleep has been pretty good.  Conner and Madi wanted to sleep with me when I got home because they had missed me, and I wanted to sleep close to Ramya for bonding, so right now we are sharing a bed.  They also really wanted to sleep next to Ramya.  Pretty soon Conner and Madi will head back to their beds but likely I will have Ramya stay next to me, if she will (she loves sleeping with Conner and Madi).  David and I have been catching up on our date-nights-in and are enjoying them.  We know it will be quite a while before we are ready to have a date-night out again and we are fine with that, but it's still nice to relax and watch a movie together or play a game or whatever.   
We are getting in to a little routine and that's always nice.  My house is still needing lots of attention, as I spend a lot of time one-handed still, but it'll get there.
Tonight I am thanking God for all 3 of my little blessings, whom I love so very much!  It is wonderful having them all together and watching them laugh together!


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Day 2 Home: My All American Girl

Today was a pretty good day.  Ramya LOVED going on a bike ride and also really loved the wagon ride we went on later in the day.  I'm still holding her quite a bit and she still sits on my lap to eat (which is ok with me), but she is also getting down to play next to me quite a bit.  She loves playing in the water and loves the doll you can give water too and it pees.  She likes to give it a bottle and a "foon" (spoon).  She knows how to diaper and swaddle a baby, so I am wondering if they had her help with the babies in the orphanage.  In the room next to her, there were 4 very small infants, under 10 weeks old I believe.  In the room across there were older babies.  She doesn't like when anyone is crying and tries to make them happy.

I got called "momma" once today.  I had Madi on the potty and she really wanted to be held.  It was very sweet!  It will be nice to hear it a little more as the days go on.  Oh, and crushing up her medicine and putting it in pudding worked well, so her medicine was taken today... woooo hoooo!  She also didn't fight me on using the potty today, which was nice.  Baby steps!

I was told to try and feed her food she is familiar with, but she doesn't really want anything to do with it.  I think she's just tired of eating the same old thing all the time.  She wants to eat what we eat, which actually works out pretty nice.  Today she loved pancakes with almond butter and syrup.  She also loves bananas and has eaten about 4 today.  She still loves eggs but is eating quite a few other things too.

Here is a picture of Ramya and Madi on our bike ride:

Oh, and she ended up being just fine in the car seat.  She enjoys riding in the car and wasn't too upset with having to be in a seat, so I am very thankful for that!

Friday, February 15, 2013

I think the honeymoon period is over!

Ramya is doing really well mostly.  She likes to be held a lot, but is now getting used to the dog and cat (she was scared of them) and will play next to me as well.  She yells at the dog (doggy, go!) and I think that she's realizing the dog is friendly and ok.  We let her feed him treats and that seemed to help.  She even touched him briefly today!

Ramya is learning to say "no".  I try to give her things she can say no to (like asking if she wants a banana when it's ok for her to say no), but it's a hard thing when it's something important that just has to get done.  The last few days her big thing has been her medicine (prophylactic antibiotic).  She really does not want to take it.  It's a pill she has to swallow, which I know it isn't fun, but it is an important one.  Today was a struggle and she threw it across the room.  I tried giving her options, sitting with her not letting her play until she took it, etc... but she was not happy.  Unfortunately, though, I've got to have her taking it until we can at least get in to urology to review and go over everything.  I'm going to try to crush it and hide it in some pudding or yogurt to see if I can get it down that way.  I'm also going to try and get her a liquid that is easy to take, but I had to get her on insurance first so I could get her in to the doctor.  I'm going to try and find some small little treat she enjoys so that she can have it as a reward for a while.  Of course, I would like her to be intrinsically motivated, but a little extrinsic motivation may help get us over the hump.  I called insurance today and I think that's all squared away.  Our insurance really stinks, but without it, things will be crazy expensive with all the appointments and tests she needs, so I would like to have that in place before we do too much medically.

Amy, Madi's respite worker, suggested playing games where she follows simple directions and praising her for following directions, so that's what I am going to try.  We sing lots of songs, so I think it will be easy to incorporate.  I try to really give a lot of very specific praise to her and the other kiddos as a way to bring about positive behavior.  She is starting to say "thank you" all on her own, so that is nice.  We are also working on saying "no thank you" instead of just shouting "no". 

Tomorrow Oasis comes for a post-placement visit and to update our adoption paperwork.  I'm sure we'll get lots of good idea from them.  Ramya is a sweet little one and we have a lot of fun with her.  She is eating better too, so that is very nice!


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Back to Life, Back to Reality!

Whew! We jumped right back in to life and are coming up with our new 'normal'. Today Madi had preschool and I was supposed to help, so my mom took her and helped in my place (THANK YOU MOM!!). I was sad to miss the Valentine party, but it was nice that my mom could be there with Madi.

This day was full of adjustments, as I knew it would be, and I am sure we have many more to go!! Conner is just in love with Ramya and talks all day about how she is so adorable. I know this will change, but for now, she has him wrapped around his finger! If she says "come here", he comes. If she says "go get", he goes and gets what she wants. It's pretty cute. He did tell me today that having two sisters was hard work and that maybe we should have stuck with just one. I told him that he felt like that when we brought home from the hospital too. I assured him that slowly but surely, things would feel normal again. He wanted to konw how many bedtimes it would be until that happens, and I told him it's a wait-and-see kinda thing. He seemed ok with that. Ramya gave him a kiss today all on her own, and he was very excited!

Madi loves Ramya as well and thinks she is her little doll to play with. She tries to tell her what to do and is quite shocked when she doesn't listen. "Ramya, I'm funny, huh? I'm funny? Ramya, say yes. Ramya, say yes that I'm funny. Say yes!". She is learning to share her toys and clothes and is doing pretty well considering. The girls mostly get along well at this point. Madi tells Ramya that she loves her pretty often. She likes to pat her back and talk to her. It's very sweet. Madi was crying today in the car (something about how I forgot to tell her the sound the little 'e' makes), so Ramya gave her a doll to hold. It was very sweet.

Ramya is wanting to be held most of the day. It makes cleaning up and cooking a little tougher, but I know this is a good thing and important for our attachment, so I hold her! The tricky part is trying to get the girls in and out of the car by myself, since right now they both have to be carried. This is the same for in and out of the room/bathroom/etc.... I am getting down a routine of how to do it, and I know that this will continue to get easier, especially when they are both a little more independent with their mobility. Ramya is learning the art of "no". She is like a very sweet little toddler first learning how to say no. I am trying to patiently work on things with her. So far she loves eating boiled eggs, but not a whole lot else. I tried to have rice and things familiar to her, but mostly, she just wants eggs. Today she ate about 3 boiled eggs, corn, some chicken, and some green beans. She's not a very good eater at all (as in she eats very little), and she is so very skinny. She has no fat on her body at all. Her 3T pants (she is almost 6) barely stay around her tummy. I am trying to think of creative ways to fatten her up a bit and get more calories in her.

Today we had to venture out, though I was hoping to stay home. Madi had an appointment to go to wheelchair clinic for an adjustment to her wheelchair. I contemplated canceling it, but we waited about a month to get in to this one, and her wheelchair needed an adjustment very badly.  We loaded up and then once we were there Madi went in the wheelchair, Conner held my hand, Ramya went in the Ergo, and I managed to get them all in safely. Tami, Madi's PT, met us there and I am so glad she did. It turns out her wheelchair is too small and can't be adjusted correctly, so she is just getting a brand new one. She picked "toxic green" for the color, of course. She is very excited to be getting a new chair!

I'm beat and trying to ignore all of the things I have to do.  I still have some freezer meals left over that I had pre-made and am also looking forward to having some meals brought over by friends and loved ones (thank you Kim for setting that up for us!!!  If anyone wants a link, please let me know :)).  I know I need my rest so I am trying not to worry about the house being out-of-sorts.  I know it'll get there.  I picked up a bit today and worked on laundry, all one-handed.  It wasn't very efficient, but it worked.  I also have to start working on post-placement paperwork, which will take a bit of time.

That is it for now!  I know some days will be great and others will be hard, but God will get us through, just like He always does!  Please pray for a quick adjustment period and for an easy attachment.  I know it is not uncommon for things to get rocky when things settle a bit and kiddos start processing the past traumas and griefs they are feeling.  I am praying that this will be minimal and that God will give us the resources we need to get through. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

We are Home from India and Officially a Family of 5!

We are exhausted, but we are home!!  We had about 35 hours between India and getting here.  Ramya did really well on the plane.  She started to get sad and shed a few tears twice, but was back to her normal self shortly after.  I am sure she is grieving the loss of all she has known.  She slept quite a bit on the plane and I tried to sleep when she did. 

The kiddos and David were very excited to finally meet Ramya and get us all home.  The had brought Ramya valentines and balloons.  My parents and David's parents briefly met us at the airport as well.  My parents brought Ramya flowers and she really liked those.

I'm headed to bed since it's 11pm and I'm beat!  Not sure what time Ramya will wake up, as we are on a different sleeping schedule, so I'd like to get a few hours in before she does.  I have so much more to type, but it will just have to wait :).  So far the kids are all doing well together, though I know we have a long road ahead of us.  I'm just thankful to finally be together so we go through this journey as a family!  Here is a video from the airport.  Sorry for the terrible quality, it was from David's phone as my camera was acting up:


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

It's official!!!!!!

(just in case you can't read it ;))
United States Department of State Office of the Central Aurhority
Hague Adoption Certificate
Immigrating Child
Ramya has been granted pursuant to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation In Respect of Intercountry Adoption and the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (the IAA).  This adoption shall be recognized as a final valid adoption for purposes of all Fedral, State, and local lows of the United States.
SHE IS OFFICIALLY OURS!  What an amazing thing to celebrate!!
(she picked out this outfit herself and was thrilled when I bought it for her :))

Yesterday was a busy day.  We went to MaxMed Medical to get her TB test read.  After that we headed to the embassy for my appointment and interview.  Next we went back to MaxMed optical to get her prescription re-checked and order her new glasses.  After that, we did light shopping, ate, and called it a night!
At the eye doctor:
Today we went back to MaxMed optical and picked up her new glasses.  After that we headed back to the Embassy and picked up her passport/visa and Hague Adoption Certificate.  Next was some light shopping and lunch.  Right now we are resting and Ramya is napping next to me.  We head to the airport tonight at 10pm to get checked in for a 1:30 am out flight.  We have about 30 hours in the air but also gain a day back, so we will land about 7:20 on Wednesday night.  I can't wait to see the kids and David again and also for them to meet Ramya.  We have been video chatting and they are SO excited to meet her in real life!! 

Ramya is such a happy and smiley little one.  She is starting to tell me when she wants things, so we are working on "please" and she's getting pretty good.  She is still loving hugs and kisses and I got a huge kiss from her today.  She loves snuggles and to be close, but is starting to want to explore as well (it's like having a toddler all over again!  Yawn!).  She loves sugar packets and forks, putting the window up and down, dancing, playing in water, washing her hands, playing in the bath, looking and books, and just being silly in general!


I am so excited to be able to update soon with photos of us all together!!!!!!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Only in India.....

I'm having a lot of fun in India.  It is a crazy, loud, pollution-filled place where you hear honking 24-7, drivers swerve in and out of traffic (which is packed like sardines most of the time), you often see 4 people on a motorcycle, no one has or uses seatbelts, children do not have carseats, there is litter everywhere, men pee on the side of the road, mangy dogs just wanter and are abused, there are little tents set up on the side of the road where multiple families live together, children beg, children are hit with sticks, and so many other crazy things.  Yet, it is a fun and wonderful place to visit.  I'm not sure I'd want to leave here for the rest of my life, but visiting is great. 

The food here is wonderful, as long as you like Indian food, and as long as you don't eat street food (that will give you a huge tummy ache!!).  Everything has tons of cream, butter, and bread, so I'm going to come home at least 10 pounds heavier I'm sure.  I'm thankful I have a strong stomache, but not because of the food.  The driving is crazy and it would be very easy to get carsick here.  They also don't really use AC here much in the cars, unless you pay extra for a cab/driver that has AC, because it costs more money to run the car.  Instead, they open the windows.  The smog and pollution are so terrible, though, it burns your eyes.  The plants quite literally have a layer of smog on them that you can see from the streets. 

I know I've shown you a lot of pictures of Ramya, but I thought it would be fun to show you photos of India.  To start with, here is a video of a drive in India.  I will take another one when the traffic is heavy so you can see how fun that is.  This is just some backroads of India with light traffic, as we were avoiding heavy traffic on our way to the airport.   Right after we stopped the video, the driver decided playing chicken with the other cars was a great idea. Oh boy was that fun!  He kept wanting to pass people in our lane, but cut it reallllly close multiple times by going in to oncoming traffic to go around cars. 

And now some fun photos!

A drive with light traffic...

Selling fruit

Packed like sardines! 

Poor puppy dogs :(

An auto rickshaw

Typical view of the streets

Lots of litter!

I love reading the packaging on things, it always makes me laugh.  For example, this diet coke is not for phenyletonurics.

Only in India do they somehow seperate the tag/chain from the bag, and still send the chain and tag down the luggage belt.

Forget wearing a helmet, it's better to ride while holding your helmet up (nope, he wasn't putting it on, just holding it this way!!)

There are always people hanging out of vehicles

And this is a common amount of people on a motorcycle...

If you don't have a helmet, wear a hard-hat!

Lots of Rickshaws

A market
McDonald's Delivery

Only in India can you get amazing fish pants like these for $2!

Another crowded market photo

Slums in India

So Many Adventures!

Today is our day off, meaning we have no appointments, so we have been sightseeing a bit and taking it easy.  Ramya is doing well and is loving many firsts.  Today she got her first bath and hairwash and was in heaven.  She kept saying "wow" and loved getting washed and scrubbed.  She insisted I get in with her (I think she was nervous because I sat her in there alone and she started saying "auntee in, auntee IN!".   She loves washing her hands, brushing her teeth, and having her hair brushed.  I let her brush my teeth and hair today as well and she loved it. She likes feeding me sometimes too.  She loves using a fork to feed herself, now that she has figured it out, but I also feed her to help her learn to trust me/ bond.   This girl is full of giggles and laughs.  I think she has been saving them up!  Here is a video of her cracking up over a balloon (and throwing it at momma ;)).  Normally she sits on my lap (no car seats here and usually not seatbelts either), but she wanted to sit behind me this time.

Ramya loves to be kissed and today she gave me my first kiss.  If I ask her if a kiss is ok she always says yes.  When she's in the Ergo, she loves to have me hold her hand and kiss it.  She also likes to play with my hair. 

This girl is full of energy and excitement.  I love it, but man, I am tired!!!  We are working on "please" since right now it's a "right now" kind of asking. Here are some recent photos...

First bath

Red Park

First bike ride

Hand holding

 This little one is so full of joy.  It's hard to believe that such a little jem sat for so long in an orphanage.  The important thing, though, is that she is out now, and never going back!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Oh Boy, Where to Start?!?!?!?

This trip has been such a whirlwind so far, it's hard to even know where to start!  Friday we went back to the orphanage.  Poor Ramya was not thrilled with that at all.  I think she was afraid I would leave her, even though I had them tell her that it was ok and that I wouldn't.  When they tried to touch her and talk to her, she turned in to me and pushed their hands away.  She started crying at one point for a minute, and I kept just telling her it was ok, she was coming with  mommy.  They said that she was acting like that because she was excited about the new change, but sad to leave her old life.  Though I'm sure that she was full of mixed emotions, really, she wanted out, and to know that she was out for good.  Once we said goodbye and left again, she was all smiles pretty much immediately.  She got a little quiet in the car, but perked up when she heard we were headed to the airplane soon (she asked about it about a million times that day!  Auntie, airplane?  Airplane?) 

We packed up to leave our friend Nicole's house and had a big drive to the airport.  She was SO excited to go on the airplane.  Our flight was slightly delayed, but it gave us time to eat and relax so it wasn't too bad.  The sound of the airplane taking off set her back a bit, but mostly she loved it.  It was very late, so she fell asleep about 10 minutes after taking off and slept in her chair/on my lap.  We landed at 12:30 am, got to our hotel, and all went back to sleep.

This morning we went to the doctor for her exam and TB injection (for the test).  I also took her to the optometrist because I've noticed she looks over her glasses a lot and I think her prescription is wrong for her.  Doctors in India are very cheap, so it only cost about $12 for the exam.  I felt terrible, though, because they had to dilate her eyes, and the drops stung :(.  They had to go in 3 times too.  I wouldn't have had them do it, except that is how they get a precise measurement in children under 8 I guess.  I was glad I was at least there to hold and comfort her through it.  She was supposed to keep her eyes closed, but thought it was hilarious to peek at me and smile. We go back Tuesday for a non-dilation exam to re-check, then hopefully we can get her new glasses.  They think her prescription was, indeed, quite off.

Ramya is so fastinated with everything.  It is so very fun to watch.  She has never really been outside, so everything is new and exciting.  She loves toilets and loves to flush them.  She thinks mommy's toothbrush needs to go in them.  She thinks she needs to wash her hands in them.  She just loves them!  She gets so excited about everything, even the smallest things.  Today she saw birds out the window and was yelling, "AUNTIE!!  LOOK!  BIRDS, BIRDS!!!!".   She used a fork for the first time today and was VERY proud of herself.  She also ate her first french fries today and liked those as well.

Her favorite food is chicken and she loves traditional Indian food, especially that with some spice to it.  I think they only had chicken in the orphanage on rare occassions, so it's a very special treat for her.  She has eaten chicken and pretty much every meal.  She also loves boiled eggs, which is the biggest source of protien she was fed, and asks for those often.  She used to just eat anything I put in her mouth, even if she didn't like it, but we have been working on saying what we do and don't want to eat, and she will now tell me yes and no about things. 

Ramya came out of her shell today.  Actually, I think she burst out.  She was always easy going, making eye contact, letting me hold her, sitting on my lap, etc..., but today she is like a whole new kid.  She is crazy!  I keep calling her my monkey and she thinks that is the funniest thing in the world.  Today I was showing her a fish shirt I brought for her and she thought it would be funny to throw it to me.  She did it about 10 times and was laughing so hard she was crying.  She is in to everything and exploring and touching anything she can get her hands on.  She wants to pick things in the grocery store (so I let her), try new things, and she is always smiling and laughing.  She is so curious about everything and I love it!  I think I will have my hands VERY full for sure!  She also has started singing songs about things.  Yesterday she bust out with the chicken song which basically was her singing "chicken" over and over (and over).  I told you, she LOVES her chicken!

She is still calling me auntie but today she pointed to my photo and said "mommy" and also said "mommy's shoes" when she picked up my shoes.  I know it will be a while before she really calls me mommy much, but she is slowly getting there. 

Here are a few pictures from our recent adventures.  I have many more to share, but need to upload them.  She loves to take pictures so it takes me a while to weed through them and get them uploaded ;).  I have given up on my contacts for a while as there is just too much dirt and pollution and my eyes just ache every day after about an hour of being out and about, so I'm wearing glasses in most of my photos.


Video chatting with Daddy and the kids

Ramya wanted to try my makeup out

Saying good-bye at the orphanage

We brought sweet Deena photos and said good-bye (someone PLEASE adopt this sweet little girl!)

First mall trip
First donut
First airplane ride

Sleeping on momma

I have a lot to update on her medically, but that is a whole different post, so I will try to catch up on that as well within the next few days.