Saturday, January 15, 2011

Day 15

Good Morning Gus!

On Our Way to Lunch!

Today was a great day and I am so thankful that it's the weekend. It's so nice to have Steve home and be around him. :)   

Gus got up relatively early this morning, but slept all the way through the night again and got 11.25 hours of sleep. Steve got up with him and took him downstairs and I went to work on my MOMS Club newsletter (I'm the newsletter editor). It took me FOREVER because I make each button from scratch and save them as .jpg files. It took about three hours just to make the buttons for the February newsletter. I highly doubt any of the MOMS Club members even appreciate the effort put into the stupid thing, but I can't do a half-ass job at it.

After wasting the morning doing that, I went downstairs and had breakfast and watched some television. We watched Ghost Adventures and it was pretty good... I absolutely love that show (it's on the Travel Channel every Friday night). If you've never seen it, you're missing out-- and they show real stuff in case you're skeptical.

I mailed (actually, Steve mailed) my request for two certified copies of my divorce decree from Washtenaw County. Talk about slow... and stupid. I had to call the vital records office because there's NOTHING on their stupid website about ordering divorce decrees. Then I got a message and had to listen to all these options and then it was a recording telling me the address and to send a check that's "not to exceed $25" and mail it with a SASE so they can send me back my stuff. I'm hoping it doesn't take too long.

Anyway, after watching GA, Steve and I packed up Gus and headed to Hibachi X-Press for some lunch. We bought two Groupons a few months ago and they expire in a month, so I figured we better use one now. It was so yummy and because we used a Groupon, we got another coupon for $5 off a $10 purchase! Cha-Ching!

Then we stopped at Lowes (I stayed in the car) while Steve went in to get a door guard for the screen porch (the cats made a hole and Toebe was able to get out). Because of the hole, the cats haven't been allowed on the porch and they've been begging to go out (they love the fresh air and to prowl for birds, squirrels, and other creatures).

We got our weekly shopping trip completed and didn't do too badly with our grocery budget. It helps that we use e-Mealz and I've created a stock of "staples" that we have on hand and I can make just about anything for dinner without too much effort. We recently got a subscription to Relish! and it's been really awesome. I made a whole bunch of meals this last week from their menus and we really liked them.

Tonight I made EZ Black Bean Pita Tostados and they were out of this world delicious! Here's what you need/do:
- Can of Fat-Free refried black beans
- Whole Wheat Pitas
- Shredded Cheese
- Fat-Free Sour Cream
- Lettuce
- Tomatoes

You take a pita and spread the black beans on it, then add cheese. Put it on a baking sheet in an oven set at 425 for 6-8 minutes. Then when it comes out, add the sour cream, lettuce and tomato and you have a delicious dinner!  :)

After dinner we watched football (BLA) and saw the stupid Steelers beat the Ravens. I could hardly care less about these two teams, but I LOATHE the Steelers. Mainly because of their stupid quarterback and I could start on a rage about my feelings about that... but I'll stop myself now.

Anyway, we got Gus ready for bed and let him climb the stairs again. He LOVES it... and we figure it can't hurt if we're here with him. Once again, he made us so proud and is getting better and better! I documented the whole ordeal and wanted to share. Enjoy!

How awesome is he??? I am so smitten!

Until tomorrow...

Friday, January 14, 2011

Day 14

Today was another great day! Gus slept until 7:30 and then he was up until about 2:00 and he took an hour and a half nap in his crib. I've been doing a really good job of bringing him up here for his naps. It's not always easier, but it's better for him and once I'm up here, I can get on the computer and get some work done.

Gus did a great job eating his lunch today and devoured some peaches and apples. He's been eating like a champ these last few days and I am finally starting to think maybe he's finally into the habit of eating solids!!

My son is quite the explorer! Today he was climbing everything he could, and decided to try and play near his swing. I had to come over and stand close so if he started to fall, I could be there to make sure he was okay (the swing... well, it swings and I didn't want him to get hurt). Anyway, the above picture cracked me up because not only was he standing up, but decided to go at it one handed! A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!

This evening, my former coworkers had a get together to celebrate a good friend's birthday. I absolutely love and adore Kim, and was so excited to be invited to come out and celebrate with everyone. I was even more excited when Jen said she was going, and that I was going to be taking Gus with me. He was a big hit and many of my former coworkers were delighted to meet him for the first time! Some had never met him before, so it was a long eight months before seeing him for the first time in person!!

Gus and Jen

Gus and I got home around 6:30 and had dinner with Steve (I made crock-pot chicken pot pie and it was delicious!) and then we watched Grey's Anatomy and headed up to put Gus to bed. Gus decided that he wanted to attempt the stairs, and so Steve stood behind him while he tried to climb.

Well... the attempt turned into more than just an attempt. He actually mastered the climb and made it all the way to the top without falling down. Steve was right there behind him to make sure nothing happened, but it was incredible. When Gus got to the top, I talked to him and got him to follow me into his room. Steve said, "I'm having a moment right now... I can't believe that he was once so tiny and now he's climbing the stairs and heading into his own room." Ahhhh... where has the time gone???

I was so very proud of Gus tonight... it must have felt like a MOUNTAIN for him to climb all those stairs... and yet he did it. He was so excited when he was done and was shreeking and we clapped and cheered for him. I'm sure this is just the beginning of all the proud moments to come our way!!!

I wonder what this weekend will bring???
Until tomorrow...

fix-it-Friday #82

It's been quite some time since I participated in a fix-it-Friday so I was super excited to do one today! I think I did a pretty good job, and I'm getting better with Photoshop so that helps.

Here's the original image:

Then here's my edit:

I first went in and played with the brightness and contrast, and then I enhanced her eyes, hair, and lips, and then I made the blue in her shirt more "vivid" and lastly, I went in and touched her skin so her freckles would stand out. I think she's beautiful!!

Definitely click the link at the top to check out other edits of this same FIF picture!!


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Day 13

My baby is a super-star!!! He went to the doctor's today for his follow-up flu shot and not only did he only cry for like ten seconds, but they weighed him and he's at 19.5 pounds!! We go again next month for the nine month appointment and I'll get his full measurements (she only weighed him today because I asked).

I feel like Gus has turned a corner with his feedings and I couldn't be happier! He had some apple cinnamon oatmeal for lunch today and gobbled it all up and had some water from the sippy cup (just a little water though). Then tonight, I asked Steve to feed him (since it should NOT always be me feeding him) and while Steve was hesitant (he's only fed him solids once before and it was a disaster), Gus was SOOOO hungry and phening for more and more yogurt! It was incredible and I was so proud of him! Gus ate an ENTIRE container of vanilla yogurt!!! Then he had some cheese puffs and more water (again... just a little to get him used to the sippy).

To top the entire day off, we had the best night last night! Gus went to bed at 8:00 last night and literally slept until 8:15 this morning and didn't wake at all! Over twelve hours of uninterrupted sleep!!! This was the very first time he's done that and I was estatic!!! Let's just hope that he does the same tonight!!

I want to share this picture because in my opinion, it's the greatest picture that I've ever taken in my entire life. I think it captures so much and the saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words" came to mind when I saw it. Gus absolutely loves and adores me... truth be told, he's a mama's boy and I like it that way (LOL). BUT... there is no one, and I mean no one that he loves like his papa. When Steve comes home from work, the look on Gus's face is pure joy and their bond is magical. All children should be so blessed to have such adoration and love for their fathers.

I know that I am important to Gus, and he sees me as the primary care provider (because I am), but there's something so very special about the relationship between Gus and Steve. I can't quite put words to it. It was there from day one. From the minute that Steve held Gus in his arms, there was a bond unlike one that I had. In fact, it took me a few days before I felt a bond with Gus. I was so worried about the feelings of his birth mom, that I didn't let myself attach to Gus. Steve totally abandoned all sense of uncertainty and bonded with his son immediately.

Anyway... this picture is my favorite and says so much to me. I could look at it for hours and have a perma-grin on my face. I pray that the love that this picture conveys only grows stronger and the relationship between Gus and Steve only deepens as Gus gets older.

Until tomorrow...

Open Adoption Roundtable #9:

Open Adoption Roundtable #9: Arguments Against Openness
Some people argue that adopted persons should be free to initiate relationships with their first families--or not--on their own timetable. The parents (first and adoptive) in an adoption shouldn't make such an important and personal decision for them by engaging in fully open adoption. What is your response? Do you agree or disagree? Why?

My oh my... where to begin with this one! Since this is MY blog, I can write whatever I want, so if this offends anyone, sorry!

Okay... in my honest opinion, I think closed adoptions are selfish. Let me say that I think it is selfish if the birth mother wants a closed adoption, and I think it's even more selfish is the adoptive family wants a closed adoption. When a birth mom wants a closed adoption, it literally closes off communication and a relationship with their biological child. The idea of growing up not knowing the woman that gave birth to you, if this woman is still alive (obviously growing up with a parent that has passed is a totally different situation), is devistating. Talk about screwing someone up forever.

Sometimes birth moms don't want to have an open adoption because it's too painful. Maybe the thought of seeing the child that they placed for adoption is too much to handle, and they think it'd be easier not to have to think about it. For some, a closed adoption is the only way to go to ensure not having to face the reality of the situation, and having to deal with the loss of a child.

I am not a birth mom, so all that I just wrote is speculation. However, I am an adoptive mom and can say, I could never initiate a closed adoption. I would do whatever the birthmom was most comfortable with, and have to go into the adoption with the thought that God is leading us to closed adoption for a reason, but it's not something I would ever initiate for my own purposes.

I think it's easy to close yourself off from the pain of adoption. It is not easy for anyone. When you are an adoptive parent, you know (at least you should know) going into the adoption that this child is special, and a gift from God. This child did not grow inside you, doesn't share your DNA, and will ALWAYS... ALWAYS... ALWAYS be adopted. Now, if you choose to have a closed adoption, it's so easy to just "hide" the fact that they're adopted and raise them to believe that they are your biological child. Afterall, a baby doesn't know anything other than what they're raised to believe, so if you don't tell them, how would they ever know?

Unfortunately, as I've said before, this is the selfish way to go. I think every child has the right to know where they came from, and has the right to know the person/people who brought them into the world. The person/people who made the heart-wrenching decision to place them into the arms of their family, should be celebrated and respected. The birth family should be treated with so much love, respect, and appreciation by the adoptive parents and the child who was placed into their lives.

I think if done right, open adoption can be the most amazing thing to ever happen to a family. How can there be anything more beautiful than a plethera of people who all come together for one tiny person? What child wouldn't love to be adored by so many? Children are a blessing and whether they came to a birth family at a time where they weren't ready, or the birth family was not able to provide or care for them as they would like, the bottom line is that they were brought into the world for a reason. For a birth family to look deep within themselves and decide to place their child for adoption, it's amazing. They are ultimately giving their child the gift of life and love.

The whole process is so amazing, but when a closed adoption is in place, (to me) you're just asking for problems. We all want to know we belong, and are cared about. I can't imagine going my whole life thinking my parents and siblings and extended family members were my family and then suddenly being told (or worse... finding out on your own or by accident) that you're adopted. It would shatter your sense of being and your sense of stability and comfort. How do you fix that with a child that you've lied to their whole life?

I'd imagine that you can't fix it completely. How would a child ever forgive their adoptive parents for a lifetime of lies? No matter how much you tell yourself that it's for the best, that child is the one who is wounded and you can't turn back time, and you can't take back those lies.

I think if the birth parents want to have a closed adoption and they do not want any contact or information, it's sad, but something that you (as an adoptive parents) cannot control or change. What you can change is how you deal with a closed adoption. Nothing says that because a birth family wants a closed adoption, that you cannot raise your child with openness. You have an obligation as a parent to that child to raise them with openness and honesty. They may not be able to know their birth parents, but they would be raised to know that their birth parents are out there somewhere.

If my son's birth parents would have wanted a closed adoption, we would have gone with whatever they wanted. In order for adoption to work, both sides need to agree. We would raise him to know that he does have birth parents and we'd tell him as much as we could about them. He'd be raised to know that we support anything he wanted to do and hopefully, through our unconditional support and love, he'd grow up knowing that his family are the people who are in his life and give him love, care, support, and a sense of self.

Fortunately, our adoption is open and we do all that we can to make sure that his birth family stays in the loop on his latest developments. I have a blog just for him and I post every Tuesday (Gus was born on a Tuesday) and I post pictures and videos. I send them pictures of him every other month that I've printed. I created a Facebook page just for him and it's only for family. His birth family is on there and they can see pictures and videos of him without being "intrusive" to our personal lives. They appreciate it, and we appreciate the love that they share through his "wall."

So... the bottom line is that I do not think there is such a thing as too open and open adoption is the only way to go if you want to ensure that your child is well-adjusted. I want Gus to know that his adoption makes him special and lucky because not only does he have us, he has a second family, his birth family, that love him. He's so very lucky to have so many people love him!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Day 12

Such a little turkey boy!!

These were taken tonight of Gus wearing a cute sweater that the Fechter Four bought him for Christmas. I think they're super cute!!!

So today was a fun day spent with Wendy and the girls. I went with Wendy to Fuquay to pick up a laptop thingy from one of the members in our MOMS Club. After that, we headed to Applebee's for lunch and then when we were done with lunch we drove back to HS.

I decided that today would be the day that I have my gel nails removed. It's been something that I've been wanting to do for a while, as going every two-three weeks is honestly more of a pain than pleasure. I was spending $38 each time to have them filled and while they looked nice, after starting FPU, I just said that it wasn't worth $76 a month from our budget. If things have to be cut, that was a luxury that I was willing to remove from my life.

Now, I've had my nails on for about six years. When my Grandma Ghrist passed away in February of 2005, I went to get my nails on before her viewing. I'm not sure why I decided that it was the right time for nails, but for whatever reason, that's when I had them put on.

I started going to a girl named Ayleah and loved her- she was like a therapist and very funny. I was going every two weeks to see her and enjoyed it very much. I think I was paying $28 each time. Then she quit the salon that I was going to, and I called her new place to make an appointment and she never got back in touch with me. I took it as a sign that she didn't want/need my business very much, or she would have gotten back in touch with me.

Then I found Dreama. She did the nails of a person that I taught with. Dreama is/was wonderful! She was so sweet, very funny, and so easy to talk to. More than anything, I really enjoyed her friendship and looked forward to my nail appointments with her. I eventually brought my mom in for her very first pedicure for Mother's Day... and she was NOT going to do it, and then Dreama was so good, my mom went back again and again.

Then we moved to NC. When we moved down here, I didn't have a nail person and looked everywhere for one. Unlike in MI, there aren't nail girls in the salons down here... the only places to get your nails done are at Vietnamese places in strip malls. Now, don't get me wrong, they're great... but in MI, you avoid those places at all cost because they usually aren't licensed, or do a really bad job.

So when I came down here, the first thing I did was try to find someone to do my nails. It had been almost a month since my last nail appointment with Dreama, and my nails looked TERRIBLE. I ended up going to Wal-Mart and buying the nail remover stuff.

I tried to remove my acrylic nails myself and it was horrible. Not only did the stuff not really work, but my nails HURT and I had to use this tool to get the nasty gunk off my nails. It was a mess, and I was in pain.

I started teaching and one of my fellow teachers said to me, "No offense Cathy, but your nails look terrible." She literally said that to me. Then she told me about her nail girl... I asked if it was a Vietnamese place... and she said that it was, but the girl was American and was wonderful. I called and made an appointment with Jennifer.

I absolutely clicked with Jennifer immediately. Not only was she funny, but she and I liked the same television shows, and read a lot of the same kinds of books. We became instant friends and I looked forward to my nail appointments with her.

This past September, Jennifer told me that she was going to be going to Vietnam to visit her family and would be gone until December 5th. I was shocked that she'd be gone for so long, but she assured me that I'd be in good hands and be taken care of by her husband Peter (he owns the salon) and her mother.

I think it was while Jennifer was gone that I realized that I only enjoyed my nails because of the time it gave me for myself. I liked talking to her and catching up on her life and her catching up on mine.

I should mention that while I was in MI for Gus's adoption, my mom hooked me up with her nail girl, Sherri and she was WONDERFUL and it was great to have someone to do my nails while waiting to come home.

Anyway... the last time I got my nails done (about two weeks ago), I asked when Jennifer was coming back (because she was supposed to come back at the beginning of December and then she was going to wait until after the new year to return). I was told that they weren't sure... not a good sign.

I ended up emailing her and asked her what was up and she said that she wasn't sure when/if she was returning and if she did, it'd be part-time during the week (I always go on a Saturday so Steve can be with Gus while I go).

All that put with a tight budget made me decide to get my nails off. I'm now free of going every two or three weeks... and I am free of spending $38 each time.

I went to the place in our local Wal-Mart... and while it wasn't my first choice for a place to remove my nails, they did a great job. They hurt like a bitch... and are very sore to the touch, but five years of protection will do that. The girl said that they should feel better each day and by next week should be a lot better. I hope so... because they're sore!!

I decided to get french nails with a manicure and when I showed Steve my hand tonight, he didn't notice anything different. I had to point out that I had my nails removed and he didn't see a difference. I guess that's a good sign.

Now I'm tired and ready for bed. Tomorrow Gus gets his follow-up flu shot. I hope they'll weigh him and measure him... I'm very curious to know how much he's grown in the last two months!!!

Until tomorrow...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Day 11

Gustafer Gustafson-- 8 Months Old!

Making a funny face at me!

So today Gus turned eight-months-old and we celebrated by playing all day. :)  It sleeted last night and we woke up to icy roads and everything covered in ice. Steve went to work despite my protests, but made it there and back safely.

So... yesterday I said I would post some of the things that Gus "should" be doing in the eighth month... here they are and then my thoughts on them. This comes from "What to Expect the First Year" and is from chapter 12 (The Eighth Month).

  • It says that Gus will develop his sense of humor and will laugh a lot (this already happens... he thinks EVERYTHING is funny)
  • He could string together vowels and consonants and say "ma-ma" or "da-da" (Can't wait!!)
  • He will start to understand what "no" means and most likely not like it
  • Bear some weight on legs when held upright (does this)
  • Feed self a cracker (he's trying)
  • Rake with fingers an object and pick it up in fist (does this)
  • Turn in the direction of a voice (does this)
  • Look for a dropped item (does this)
  • Pass a cube/object from one hand to the other (sorta does this)
  • Stand holding on to someone or something (YES!!)
  • Object if you try to take a toy away (HE CRIES)
  • Work to get a toy that's out of reach (does this)
  • Play peekaboo (not yet)
  • Get into sitting position from stomach (YES)
  • Creep or crawl (YES)
  • Pull up to standing position from sitting (Not from sitting... but from being on his belly)
  • Pick up tiny objects with any part of thumb and finger (Not yet)
  • Play patty-cake or wave bye-bye (he's starting to wave)
  • Walk holding onto furniture-- cruise (YES)
  • Stand alone momentarily (not yet-- haven't tried)
  • Start to "baby-sign" if you've been doing it with him (can't wait to see him sign to me)
  • Stand up while in his crib (YES)
  • Drink from a cup independently (he tries but can't quite get it yet)
  • Stand alone well (NO)
  • Play ball by rolling a ball back and forth (NO)
  • Eating less and less formula (NO)
  • Eating three meals a day by 9 months (NO)
  • Aware of strangers and fearful of them (not yet)
  • Attachment to security items (he loves his towel, but isn't attached to it)
Holy smokes!!! Looks like we're going to have a fun month!!!
Until tomorrow...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Day 10

Today was a pretty good day. Gus went down for a two-hour nap and it gave me some time to keep working on the calendar. That thing is a pain in the butt to make!! I don't think Steve appreciates the amount of time and effort put into making it (then again, maybe he does).

Gus slept later than usual this morning, which was AWESOME! I have been feeling extra tired lately. Then we went downstairs and played for a little bit. After his nap, we decided to pull out the dino rider that he got for Christmas. It's a rider/walker that transitions so that he can ride when he's little, and then when he's better at walking, he can convert it to a walker thingy. I think it's pretty cool.

Anyway, so at Christmas I put him on it and pushed him around the livingroom because his feet didn't quite reach the ground. When I put him on it today... not only did his feet reach, but he was able to move himself! He's so awesome!!
Gus on his dino... checking to see if I was still watching him...

My GNO got cancelled tonight and so did my first Scentsy party. Wendy's girls are sick and she needed to be there with them. I hope they get better this week because they're going to Texas for a week and I hope to see them before the leave, AND it's no fun being sick and being on vacation!!

I've been reading "Sliding into Home" by Kendra Wilkinson. I absolutely HATED her before reading the book and now I am 100% on her side. She had a rough childhood... and while I don't necessairly agree with being a Playboy bunny, the way she describes everything makes it make sense for her (if that makes sense). Anyway, it's been interesting so far and I'm over 1/2 done. I hope to finish it tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow... Gus turns eight-months-old tomorrow. I think for tomorrow's blog, I'm going to list all the milestones that "What to Expect the First Year" lists for the eighth month... and I'll post my thoughts on them. It should make it fun to go back and read in February!

So... until tomorrow...