Friday, June 20, 2014

My Newest Blog/Business - Scents & Scentsibility, Young Living Oils

Peace & Calming has been my favorite, and I'm on my 4th bottle!
It helps my little settle into bed at night, and helps me to calm down
when I have a busy or stressful day!

I have recently begun to take my use of Young Living Essential Oils more seriously!  I have been using them for 2 1/2 years now, but have pretty much kept that to myself.  But that changed.  I have begun experiencing so many ways that these oils have improved my health and dealt with illnesses and cleaning problems and even made some of my foods/drinks taste better!
Panaway is my "go to" for all kinds of pain plus headaches too!
 I have started my new business by launching the Scents & Scentsibility Facebook Group (please join!) and also a blog, Scents & Scentsibility, Young Living Oils!   With only a few weeks effort, I have already started getting people involved, helped others with using oils in their home, and best of all I have started to get commission checks!
Purification is used daily in my home for insect bites,
 insect repellentbee stings, cuts and scrapes, infections, an air purifier and more!

On a recent blog post, Why Young Living Oils, Aren't They All the Same?, I wrote all about why I use Young Living Oils, comparing them to those you get at your local store, as well as why Young Living is a company you can trust and why their oils are the best and purest - they are the number one selling essential oils in the US!  It is a thriving and growing company that produces the brand of essential oils that more of my friends that I can even name off the top of my head are already using (and starting their own businesses too)!
Valor is my newest favorite!  It helps me "take on the day"
and tackle the mounds of work I face everyday.
With a cup of coffee and some Valor,
There's nothing I can't accomplish!
At least I like to think that way.

You don't have to start a business to use these - I didn't....for 2 years that is.  But you just need to go to my blog post all about this and check our my blog and FB group and you'll see why I totally am excited about this new development!
I use Thieves for so many things - laundry, cleaning counters,
hand sanitizing, killing germs in the air, killing germs on surfaces
when we traveland it just plain smells wonderful!
 I use Thieves Hand Sanitizer andThieves Toothpaste too and love both!

Everyday I'm learning more, and sharing what I learn, and finding ways to use the oils in our home so we can stop using over-the-counter medications and improve our health and have a healthier home!

Here's some fun graphics I posted just today - happy weekend and See you over there!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Christy's First Month Home!

Two Feet on US soil - a new US citizen!
Oh my, time flies!  I can not believe that as of this week, Christ has been in our home for a month!  Her first day in our home was May 18.  She has done so very very well in adjusting to our home!  She even acclimated to our time zone within days - faster than I did, that is for sure!

 We have been very busy settling in, finding a new routine that works for now, and getting her the medical diagnosis that we felt were important - here's a list of appointments she's had and what we found out from them:

Carese - the binky caretaker
May 20 - Pediatrician - basically got her height weight, updated our Dr with her new medical information and got her file started and a general look/see for her doctor and her.

May 22 - University of Washington Adoption Medical Clinic (3 hour drive each way!) - Dr Davies got her weight height and looked over both Christy and her latest medical documents and got referrals in place for things like cardiology, neurology, speech and physical therapy evaluations being top priority, Ear/Nose/Throat  evaluation, eye sight and hearing are all on the list too, only not critical.   She also had a myriad of blood work drawn and tested as well as stool cultures done.  So far everything has been great, with the one exception of a Vit D deficiency (we are giving her 1000 IU/day now).

She wasn't too sure about grass, but she warmed up to it!
May 27 - Pediatrician - checking Christy for cold symptoms, but mostly discussing the findings from Dr Davies and discussing referrals needed. She also got to watch Christy drink from a tippy cup and put in the feeding referral right away...told me to only feed her foods from a spoon until then (thickening everything to pudding consistency to be on the safe side).
It was hat day, or something!  Carese wanted to do whatever
Christy was doing that day!

Starting the next day, a virus passed through our family - Rachel, Elizabeth and Carese with high fevers, and I got tonsillitis, the worst case that I can remember (it really took me over a week to finally have no pain)!  Esther and Christy did not get sick at all which was totally weird!

Too stinking cute!
June 3 - Seattle Children's Hospital Cardiology/Echocardiogram -   I finally got all the answers - Christy did no only have an ASD correction like her earlier documents had said, but a very complete open heart surgery - they repaired an ASD, a VSD and an AV Canal defect.  They basically reconstructed the middle of her heart.  The echo was not as clear as they would like, but she feels that the surgery was very successful that she will not need any further repair work.  We are to bring her back in one year from now.  That was a very good sign!

Playing at her Neurology
June 5 - Neurology - after reviewing her medical files, and observing her clinically, the pediatric neurologist has determined that Christy has brain damage.  This could have happened either when she was born (traumatic, fetal distress induced emergency C-section) or during her open heart surgery.  If it happened at or around the time of birth, then it is called "Cerebral Palsy" but if it happens later in life they refer to it as a "stroke."  Either way, it is a stable diagnosis (that means it is not getting progressively worse) but it is permanent.  At the same time she did agree that it was very promising that we were already seeing her use her right hand and arm more and more since we brought her home, and with therapy and the blessing of a home and many siblings to play with, she has great potential to gain more use of her right side and she believes that she will be able to walk someday too!  So that was great news, but I did shed a few tears as in my heart I had really hoped that it was just some pinched nerve that adjustment/surgery would correct.

All 4 in matching PJs!
June 8 - First time we were able to bring Christy to church!  She did great and we had a wonderful time introducing her to our church family.  She would not make eye contact with strangers and got a little stressed if people wanted to touch her, but she had no panic attacks and we were even able to stay after the service for the potluck!

Favorite toy - her own foot!
Jun 10 - On the 5th, I finally got a good look at Christy's teeth and immediately made an appt to see our pediatric dentist.  On this day my suspicions were confirmed.  Every molar had as least two cavities (one above each root) and she needed work done right away.  She has been referred to Seattle Children's for this and has a consultation scheduled for the middle of July, but she is on a cancellation list, so hopefully we can get her in sooner. So far no abscesses, but I am to keep and eye out for that and brush regularly.  She does allow me to brush her teeth, but I can tell that sometimes it hurts (she winces).

First Sunday going to church - all in
Matching dresses (all of which came
from a consignment store!)
That was the  last appointment so far, but in the next month we have the following:

(I have two appts for a new crown as a tooth broke last summer and last weekend it broke further...)
June 24 - ENT
July 1 - Esther's pre-surgery consultation for her dental general anesthesia procedure
July 3 - Christy - Physical Therapy Evaluation (hoping to get a referral for braces and her knees bend backwards to an alarming degree)
July 11 - Christy - Feeding Therapy Evaluation
July 15 - Christy - Seattle Children's Hospital - dental consultation
July 17 - Esther - Seattle Children's Hospital - dental surgery

Good night mommy!
So we have a busy month ahead.  We still have some things to schedule yet, but they are not urgent (like vision).

Matching PJs that were given as gifts from
Two different people in two different states!
As far as Christy's integration into our family - it has gone so very much better than I even hoped!  She really had no problems with our busy home, except occasionally if played with too long she would get grumpy, but would recover if she got some time by herself.  She loves to scoot all around the house exploring her new environment.  She continues to love reflective surfaces like our kitchen appliances. We have definitely had to do some "baby proofing" in the home, especially since she loves to put things into her mouth - she loves to chew on paper, plastic and other things....but yet she spews out things like Cheerios and Kix - go figure!

Here are some videos that I think you'll enjoy!

Christy at the UW appointment, having a great time waiting.  She LOVES mirrors, can you tell?

This was just two days ago - this is her right hand/arm that has pretty much been useless.  When we visited her last fall, she could only move it occasionally and it was usually to get you to stop messing with it.  This is purposefully using it to experiment with the toy!  This is miraculous!

This last video was taken that same day, only at bedtime.  Esther has pretty much ignored Christy until very recently.  We noticed that she showed jealousy for the first time just last week, and it was when she saw that Reuben was spending time with Christy and Reuben is Esther's favorite person.  Then, on this evening, she was actually playing with Christy on the floor and they were laughing together.  I thought it would stop when I took them to bed, but I was wrong and I was able to take this amazing, sweet video of them playing together!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bringing Christy Home, AKA Overcoming Obstacles One by One!

Our wake up call actually came when we were both awake already, which was surprising since our wake up call was at 3:45.  We needed to meet the cab at 4:15 and we were hoping to arrive at the airport before 5 am.

I needed to take some things down to the front desk and we needed the suitcase trolley.   When I got out of the elevator I found the lobby full of men in the boxer shorts...Yeah, not what I was expecting AT ALL.  Approximately 20 British drunk rugby players. Talk about awkward.  But I could not wait - we had a deadline!  So I forged ahead and placed the items behind the desk and tried to get the one hotel staff person's attention.  It wasn't happening.  Here I am trying to not look at all the (basically) naked men in the room, and yet I had to take care of our needs.  So I made my way up to the bar (it's open in the lobby), much to cozily between two of these Rugby players and asked if we could get the luggage cart.  But he just could not get past the language barrier/noise level to understand what I wanted.  I did the best I could and then felt it was time to abandon the attempt and get out of there before anything really embarrassing happened.  So I turned to go towards the elevator, but to my great dismay, there were already several nearly naked rugby players in the elevator.  Needless to say, I was NOT going in there!

So I headed to the stairs and went up two flights.  At that point I checked out the elevator and watched to see what floor the elevator went to - of course it was the 6th floor.  So I gave up completely and went up all 7 flights of stairs.  Then we got everything ready to go onto the luggage cart, and still no luggage cart, so we gathered what we could and Daryl headed down to see what we could do.   Everything is kind of a blur now, but eventually we got the bill paid, the luggage in the cab and avoided any further encounters with the naked rugby players, except for hearing from the hotel clerk that they had broken into fights in the hallways and upset other guests and we could still hear them outside through the upper floor windows.

So we are finally in the cab with the grumpy cabby who can only speak on word in English, "No."  All settled in, Christy in her car seat and all our luggage in the back.  Then the cabby tries to start the cab and the battery is dead.  He tries again, same result.  After a couple more tries, the cabby gets out and heads to the hotel...Daryl and I are fervently praying now as we are already leaving much later than we had hoped!  Soon the poor hotel clerk is coming out, following the cabby - they are going to do a push start (the street ahead of us is slightly downhill) as, thankfully, the mini van type cab is a stick shift (unheard of in the US, but common over there!).  Just as we get to the end of the block and the down hill section the cab finally started...we both breath a sigh of relief!

The next hurdle was that we were unable to determine which terminal we needed to be dropped off at.  So he took us to Terminal 1.  We got there and got unloaded and fixed up out luggage so the two of us could take it all with us, which was a lot - 3 large check in, 2 carry on, a car seat in a bag with a shoulder strap, three "personal bags" and Christy.  Thankfully two of the check in bags and my rolling backpack had piggy back straps and that made it possible, but it was difficult to manage so we wouldn't want to have to go very far.

Once we got into the terminal, it took a while to figure out where we needed to be, but eventually we got help and determined that we actually needed to be at terminal 2!  And because of our early flight, there were no shuttle buses available and we would have to hire a cab.  This was a problem as I had spent the last of our Bulgarian cash...but there was an ATM and I got out 50 leva and we went back outside and hailed a cab...everything back in and off we went.  Once at Terminal 2 we unloaded and paid the cab (only 5 was I going to use up the rest???).   I was able to get preferential treatment due to traveling with a child - no waiting in any lines - skip to the front at check in, security and at the gate.  This was really what enabled us to even make out flight as by now we were running quite late and the airport was surprisingly busy (it was a Saturday morning).  We did find that the first flight would not allow us to use her car seat, but they did allow us to check it at the airplane so it would be available for the rest of the flights.

Our first flight went really well.  Christy did so much better that I had dared to hope - she sat in her own seat with just the seat belt like she had been doing it all her life!  She was so good and seemed to enjoy the flying experience even!

Our first layover was at Heathrow, London.  It was a long layover, and good thing.  We accidentally went through customs and ended up having to get our gate tickets reprinted and go through customs/security again.  We just took it slow and got through everything eventually.  We still had about 30 minutes to wait until the gate was announced and then 30 minutes to wait at the gate, so really it went very well.  I was able to exchange the Leva to Pounds and had enough to purchase a nice lunch while we waited for the gate to be announced!

The next flight was the longest one - 7 + hours.  To us this was a late afternoon evening flight so Christy took a long nap during the earlier part of the flight.  When she woke up she was quite upset.  I applied peace and calming oils and some peppermint (her nose was very stuffy) and then went to find a bathroom to change her diaper.  It took a while to find one that had the changing table and she was fussy the whole time - I was beginning to think the rest of the trip was going to be a long one!  One in the bathroom, the minute she was in a dry diaper she was back to her happy self and even making herself laugh right there in the bathroom!  The rest of the flight was spent trying to entertain her in the dark - we tried a glow in the dark bracelet, but she bit a tiny hole in I cleaned out her tippy cup and put it in there and that worked.  I also had a spinning light up toy that helped a lot too.  Soon we were preparing to land in Philly and beginning to stress about collecting all our luggage and going through customs AND immigration and then back through security and we only had just over 2 1/2 hours.  Everything went as planned, with a couple of exceptions....

When we went to go through immigration, we were told that everyone would be served in the order that we came in.  That was not what we were told - we had been told that as US citizens (and Christy was a US Citizen as soon as we got on US soil) that we would be moved to the front of the line and processed immediately.  I explained this to the gum chewing agent (he seemed to have a superiority complex like someone from a movie or something) but he said no exceptions.  So we sat not so patiently waiting for our turn (there were about 10 files ahead of ours).  Eventually a new agent showed up and we could hear the first agent asking if what we said was correct, and yes, we were right.  So only after about 20 minutes of suspense we were processed quickly and moved on to collecting our check in luggage so we could go through customs.  Due to our delay, all the luggage was already off the conveyor belt.  But one of ours was missing.  We eventually found out that we would have to file a claim in Seattle and moved on.  Customs was a breeze, really nothing at all.  Security was a long line and we were not allowed to move to the front.  Eventually we made it to our terminal and we actually made it in time.  They had begun to make announcements, but no boarding yet.  We thought about trying to grab dinner, but just didn't have time and hadn't seen any restaurants that seemed like a good choice for food, and neither of us were particularly hungry.

There was no priority boarding again for families with children/babies, and since we ended up loading later we were also not allowed to bring our carry-ons with us either.  We had to do some re-arranging as all the baby toys were in one of the carry-ons.  I do not recommend flying into Philly on an adoption trip, that is for sure.

Our last flight was 6 hours and had to be one of the biggest rip-offs of all our flights.  No in flight movies, no blanket, no pillow, no nothing!  We were given 3 opportunities to have the standard drinks (pop, coffee or tea) but there was no even one snack, and you had to pay extra for the meals.  By this time we were tired and a bit grumpy.  The plane was a smallish one, and the noise level was bad.  We were sitting right in front of the bathroom and all the sound from around us seemed to intensify off the wall behind us.  For us we had now been traveling for nearly 24 hours, but those around us were not so tired and there was a lot of conversations.  Daryl was able to sleep, and so was Christy, but sleep evaded me.  I had only gotten about an hour's sleep on the last flight, so I was getting pretty miserable. Eventually we made it to Seattle and we even beat the sun - the longest Saturday ever - 29 hours and counting by the time we landed!

But we weren't done yet....we collected our baggage, and then went to file the claim for the missing luggage.  Due to not being able to find the original first flight gate pass, it took over an hour to process the claim.  Finally we were able to tell Jessica to come and pick us up.

Christy had been a gem, and had only cried that one time on the second flight.  She played contentedly with Daryl while I was doing the missing baggage claim.  What a blessing.  I was so wasted by now, that it would have been very, very trying if she had been fussy at this point.

The only thing left was the drive home.  2 1/2 hours later, we were entering our home for the first time just 8 hours less than 2 weeks.  Only problem was it was 1:30 am at home, but our bodies were still on the other time zone, which was 11:30 am - so very tired from traveling, but Christy was no even remotely ready to sleep!  So Daryl went to bed and after a few hours we swapped places.

In the morning we had the wonderful privilege of introducing Christy to the family, and getting lots of loves from our little girls who missed us so very, very much.  Everything, every moment was something to cherish.  That day was like no other and God's blessing and grace were nearly palpable.  God had brought safely back home.

"Is she my sister"  "Yes she is all yours!"

Friday, June 6, 2014

Five Days with Christy - Appointments and Waiting!

Monday morning was our appointment for Christy's medical exam.  This was done in a Bulgarian medical clinic, and we were taken there by our driver/translator team.  They also had her passport for us!  We went into the clinic and the lab was downstairs.  We were pleasantly surprised to see the other family there (the ones adopting the 7 yo boy).  After a fairly long wait (and listening to that poor boy having his blood drawn) we were ushered in to the room.  

The room looked like a small office/cubical than a lab, although there was an exam table there.  After our entrepreneur presented our documents it was time for them to draw her blood.  I'll be nice and just say that it took three pokes, two different people trying, and quite a mess before they got what they needed and poor Christy was very traumatized by it all. 

Then we headed up a few flights of stairs to the pediatrician's office.  There they listened to her breathing and lungs and looked over her paperwork.  I was surprised when the Dr turned to me and said, in English, that I was taking good care of her - this was said as they were trying to get all her layers unsnapped so the r could listen.  I think she approved or my "bundling" Christy (this ranks as the #1 indicator of a good mom in Bulgaria), but I like to think she was referring to my care in comforting Christy during the blood draw (the Dr did the final, successful blood draw).  We also found out that she weighed just over 26 pounds and was 35 inches - very similar to our 2 yo, Carese.  Long and lean.

When this was completed, we were taken to a mall so I could purchase some shoes for Christy, as all the shoes we brought were way too big.  I did find a pair that would stay on her feet, even though they were too big, and they were cute and well made.

Then we were taken back to the hotel, arriving around lunch time.  Then we all took a nap.  Then we got brave an made our way back out to Jeff's house via the subway on our own.   We not only successfully navigated the subway system, but Daryl was even able to find the way to Jeff's apartment.  It's not easy to find and they were surprised that we were able to do that!  There we enjoyed pizza from the restaurant downstairs and while Daryl played Wii with Elise, I played Settlers of Catan with Jeff and Lisa!  I surprised everyone, including myself, by winning!

Here's  a video showing how Christy reacts to "coming home" after being out and about most of the day.  She would just revel in being able to scoot around in her "safe zone"!

Then we headed home.  When we got off the subway were got to surprise a couple from England who were lost just by speaking English to them!  That was a fun little encounter all by itself!  Then it was time to settle in for the night.  Only it took a long time to get to sleep as I was not feeling well.

Tuesday we pretty much hung out all day in our room - none of us were feeling our best, and we had nothing e had to do so we just didn't do anything but eat and rest.  I did make a quick run to corner grocer with Corinna's sister, Sarah.  It was cloudy and windy, but refreshing.  When I reached my hotel room, it was raining like the sky was falling!  We had gotten back just in time.  Then the lightening and thunder began.  It wasn't as good a storm as I love (like in the mid west where the lightening and thunder are almost continuous), but it did have some great thunder.  Just at bedtime, as we were getting into bed, there was one bolt of lightening that was a simultaneous lightening strike and a crack that had both of us jumping out of our skin!  It was terrifying and so loud!  But within seconds we were laughing so hard as we both we so startled by it...and the thunder shook the hotel and caused car alarms to go off in the street below!

For some reason (sarcasm intended), Christy had trouble going to sleep that night, and Daryl took over around 11 pm, and finally got her to sleep around midnight.  So Wednesday we were very tired.  We ended up staying in our hotel room again all day, only leaving for breakfast and dinner, both of which we ate in the hotel restaurant.  

Here's a video showing Christy in "her zone" of happiness in her high chair in the hotel restaurant!  She LOVES being in a high chair, can you tell?

Thursday was our embassy appointment.  We got picked up early, we went to the medical clinic to pick up Christy's test results (she tested negative for TB, yay!), and then went to the embassy.  We ended up getting there too early and just hung out in the car for about an hour - but I was able to feed Christy her lunch and she got a short nap.  Then we went into the embassy - in order to get through security, I had to eat some of her juice and baby food to prove that it was just that!  Good thing I liked what I brought for her that day!  It took over an hour of waiting for our "interview" and we were just asked a couple of simple questions, and that was it!  We were to leave her passport with them so they could add her VISA to is, and our attorney would bring it to us on Friday!
Christy loves to scoot into tight places - this is the bottom of
the closet - she loves playing with a ball in there after I
had packed for our return trip!

Thursday night Corinna and I walked about a mile to Tony's Pizza to get take out pizza.  While we were ordering there was a flash and a bang and we all just about jumped out of our skins!  Something about the fuse box - it was like a small explosion!  The lights went out too.  Good thing we were ordering wood fired pizza!  We chose to wait outside for out pizza as one guy was messing around in an ancient looking fuse box with a screw driver!  Yikes!  By now, Corinna was convinced that being near me meant that excitement was always just about to happen! Ha!

Friday was packing day, and at dinner we finally got to meet our dear attorney, Toni.  This wonderful woman has a big heart for the orphans of Bulgaria and the families who are adopting them.  I had almost daily phone calls from her and she would be praying for us on each step of the way.  When comparing notes with other adoptive families who used other agencies, Dreams Foundation and Toni far out shown the others in the care they take to keep the families in good care every step of the way.  Thank you Toni, for all you do and I count it a blessing to have worked with you to bring Christy into our family!!!

Christy providentially went to sleep the earliest yet Friday night - and it was a good thing as we had to be up and out of the hotel by 4:15 am!  The incredible trip home will be on my next blog post as there were so many unusual things that we encountered...mostly just getting out of Sofia!