Saturday, July 24, 2010

Operator Error....

Yeah, seems like I switched my blog from the "old" editor program to the "new" editor program. And thus began my troubles. Actually, I won't take all the blame because I was lead astray by another blogger. She put a link in her blog about how to check your stats (how many people look at your blog, etc.). By simply using that link, I changed the settings for my blog - without even being logged-in. I still don't know how that could happen, but it did. (Doesn't make me feel very secure...) But, I'm very proud of the fact that I figured it out and fixed it!! Yeah!! Then I saw that I had a Photobucket "graphic" that kept swimming around in the background of my blog. WHERE did that come from??? Don't know about that either, but I fixed it, too! Whoo-hoo! I exercised my brain!!!! Yeah!

So, back to our regularly scheduled blog.

Here's Brooke in her car. (I'm finding while driving in the real car with her - she LIKES to drive fast and has NO patience for things like red lights or stopped traffic. Uh-oh...) She was so cute the other day. She kept pulling on the door of her car, without opening it, saying she was locked OUT of her car! (She really has a great imagination!) So Mark made her a car key. It has a blue "fob" and an old key from the brewery. She uses it to get into her car and then puts it in the ignition. She's always "looking for her keys", just like an adult. (I don't know where she got that from because I usually know where my keys are.)

In keeping with Olivia's developing love of sports, we put up a badmitton net in the backyard. We had a REALLY good time until we realized we were being eaten alive by the mosquitos. It looks like we'll have to cover ourselves in chemicals or just wait until it gets cooler. (I vote for cooler...)

Here's Oprah, the Queen Mother cat. She has taken up residence in the girls' Barbie house for the summer. They just leave her room, the family room, alone when they play. Suddenly, Oprah is getting old. She's definitely a "senior" now. I hate to say that she is starting to seem fragile. She's still in good health, but she's become a lightweight. A new thing she does is to howl, LOUDLY. Mostly in the wee hours of the night. She's had me up more than once at 3am, thinking one of the girls was yelling from a nightmare. We just ignore her now, since every time we've checked her, she's perfectly fine. She just likes to yell, I guess. She'll HOWL, we'll run to her, and she'll stop, looking at us like, "Yeah? What?" Cats...

We didn't sign the girls up for anything this summer. We've just kept busy around the house, just taking it easy and getting some projects done. The interesting thing about this is that they have turned to each other for companionship and entertainment. They were bonded before, but not like this. They look for each other first thing in the morning and last thing at night. And they can't be apart for long, they have to know where the other one is. What a pleasant, surprise benefit!

Oh, and they turn to the dogs for companionship and entertainment, too. Much to the dogs' chagrin. Poor Smoochy puts up with the humiliation. He's just waiting for his chance to take revenge...

Mark loves to watch MTV and VH1 for their OLD rock videos. He loves the old big-hair bands. But he likes new music, too, and has now exposed the girls to Lady Gaga (aarrgghh!). Brooke LOVES Lady Gaga. Here's her impersonation...

Usually I never question Mark's judgement, but there have been some days recently...
We've had fun bowling this summer! We've fallen into a routine: bowling, then lunch at McDonald's (Brooke's request). We can use all the practice we can get! Here's a recent outting:

I have to admit I wince when Olivia heaves the ball thru the air and down the alley. How do the floors withstand such abuse?

Brooke & Olivia on the playground at McDonalds...

Energy! Energy! Energy!

And here's Daddy at McDonalds. When you work midnight shift and then go bowling, you eventually hit the wall.

We get to start our landscaping projects soon!!!! Yeah!!!!!! We got to cut down the privet bushes on the side of the house because the retaining wall is going to be replaced. We're having steps added so we can actully walk all the way around the house! Yeah! We'd left the ratty privet bushes up because (1) we never went down on that side of the house since we only own about a 10 foot strip of land there and (2) the neighbor planted them and loved them, since it screened his driveway and garage from (our) prying eyes.
But now they are gone!! Ha! Ha! Ha! (evil laugh) Thank you Mark!!

It's going to look SOOOOOOO much better. After the steps and wall are done, the fence people will come out and fence the backyard. We're excited!!!!!! The girls and dogs can play without me having to watch them every minute, and the neighbor boys won't be using our yard as a shortcut. Yeah!

Meet Supergirl Brooke in her self-designed costume.

Future Georgia Tech engineering grads!!!!!!

Olivia made a flower bouquet for me using pipe cleaners and foam flowers. They will never need to be watered and will never die! My kinda flower!!! (Yes, Olivia is topless in many pictures. I'm lucky if I can keep her in underwear.) (This had better pass by puberty or we're in for some real trouble..._

We've started paying Olivia to do chores around the house (washing dishes below). We were wondering what to do about an allowance, then I saw Suze Ormond on Oprah. She suggested paying kids for chores instead of just giving them an allowance. That way, they learn from the start that they have to work for their money, not just wait for it to be handed to them. I think it's working! She's also figuring out that the more chores she does, the more money she'll make. Plus, using the different coins, she's learning math concepts. Brooke is getting in on the action, too. Yeah - she's naked. At least Olivia has on her underpants.

That's it for now!! Thank heavens my "blogging emergency" is a thing of the past.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I was going to add a new post tonight, but I find that they have improved ruined Blogger since I did my last post! (Notice my font color and new font type. Whoop-de-doo!!! The red accurately expresses my anger level.) Trying to add pictures now is HORRIBLE!!!! It is extremely slow and cumbersome. It's like wading thru molasses. And it keeps turning my pictures the wrong way! I give up tonight!!! I am so angry, I'm thinking about finding some place else to blog, or quitting!!! Sheez!!! What were they thinking??? AARRRGGGHHH!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

It's Already July!

The girls finally let me do their nails again. Olivia wanted a 4th of July theme, so she got red, white and blue.

Brooke decided on fish. She likes fish. She'll even watch fishing programs with Grandpa Howard. We have pictures of her and Meng Meng (foster brother) with their foster parents out near a lake. She says China Momma took them fishing. Looks like Grandpa Howard may have a fishing buddy in the future!
One morning the girls re-discovered their bubble blowing equipment. They even have little battery operated bubble blowers with tiny fans. Fun was had by all until... Brooke stuck her bubble blower into Olivia hair and turned it on. The fan was instantly wrapped in Olivia's hair. Olivia howled like she was bleeding from a major accident. There was no way to unwrap it, so I went to get the scissors. Luckily, we just had to trim the ends. I gave Brooke the typical speech - don't stick whirling fans in your sister's hair. She listened and politely nodded her understanding. But the more I get to know her, I get the feeling she was simply nodding because now she understood she had a new weapon in her arsenal against her big sister. The surly, silent child from China is turing into a grade A prankster.

Maybe I was the only person on the planet who didn't know the 4th of July was going to be celebrated on the 3rd. What? Just because the 4th was a Sunday? So, we missed the 4th of July parade and festival on SATURDAY, the 3rd. Olivia was furious!!!! But at least we found out about the fireworks in time! We threw our chairs, blankets and snack food into the car and headed for our local Target/Kohls parking lot. They set off fireworks from behind the Kohls store, so it's impossible to have a bad seat. There were people there with huge campers and grills. It was obvious they'd been there all day! There weren't any good spots left on the grass, so we just parked and took over the shady space next to us

The girls kept themselves amused as we waited for dark, and Brooke kept her fan OUT of her sister's hair.

The really handy thing about "tailgating" in the Kohls parking lot was that when you had to go to the bathroom, you just walked into that nice, air conditioned store and used their facilities. Here's Olivia and her favorite, Cheeze-Its.

Then came the moment we had been waiting for!!!!!!!!!! Fireworks!!!!!!!!!!!!! Olivia loved them and "ooooh-ed" and "aahhh-ed" at all the beautiful colors.
Brooke? Not so much...
Even with earplugs, she HATED the fireworks. "So loud! Hurt my ears!" she grumbled. She looked miserable. But they really weren't that loud. Olivia is still very sensitive about loud noises and she didn't complain at all (she had her earplugs in, also).

Daddy helped out by covering one of her ears and she covered the other. And still looked miserable.

Daddy finally took over all ear-covering duties and in moments Brooke was... alseep.
In the middle of the fireworks show!!

At least Olivia enjoyed the whole thing from start to finish.

So, this year we feel we missed the 4th of July. We got to see the fireworks, but that was it. Nothing was going on on the actual 4th. Phooey! Better luck (planning) next year.
The new thing with Olivia is that the girl really enjoys sports! (Mark is secretly thrilled!) Daddy took her and Brooke to buy real baseball gloves a short time ago. She is coming right along with catching and has branched out into batting. And she's not bad!! The very latest thing is badmitton! She'd play all day if she could. Unfortnately, the heat and the bug population is holding us back. The mosquitos love all of us, except for Mark. We can only go out if we're covered in bug spray - ick. Olivia has 28 bites on her legs!!! She looks like she has chicken pox! We've gone thru a gallon of hydrocortisone! We'll just have to wait for cooler weather. Or get up earlier... naww...

And then I found this elf in my hallway!

On Tuesday the 6th, Brooke had another celebration!
When we were in China, there was a brand new requirement (just in time for our adoptions - thrill!) of the US government that all newly adopted kids had to take a TB skin test before entering the US. If you failed the skin test, you had to get a chest x-ray. If you had (have) active TB, you couldn't enter the US. Slightly problematic for a family with a child who isn't considered a Chinese citizen anymore, but can't enter the US, either!! What is a family to do? Stay? Leave the child behind while he/she gets treatment, which takes about 9 months? Since we traveled, there have been several families with this problem. When Brooke's TB test turned into what looked like a big, fat mosquito bite, I began panicing about what I would do. Send Debbi and Olivia home, for sure. But then who would look after Olivia while Mark was at work? And where would Brooke and I live for 9 months in China? And how in the world would we pay for it?? Etc., etc. (The really irritating thing is that if she were just a tourist, she could travel into the US without any medical attention and hack her way across country, infecting everyone she met. But if she's being adopted - no, she can't enter the country and the family is thrown into legal limbo.) Because she had a positive skin test, Brooke (and one other little boy in our group) had to have chest x-rays. We literally held our breath while they read those films. Luckily, neither had active TB and was allowed to come home without further complications. Since she had such a positive reaction (the bigger the welt, the more positive the reaction), Brooke's pediatrician felt it would be best for her to undergo treatment for latent TB. It is given free of charge by the county and they even come to your house to administer the medicine. Brooke was not contagious, but she had the TB virus hiding somewhere in her little body. It might never activate, OR it could pop up any time and make her very ill, especially if she was still young when it activated (the younger the patient, the faster it will take them down). We didn't want her to ever have to worry about TB, and the cure was being handed to us on a silver platter, so we went for it.

That's how we met wonderful Nurse Tammy! She came out to our house, twice a week, for NINE months!!! She's great! At first, we were worried about whether Brooke would take her medicine. It is very bitter tasting, so kids don't like it. If they refuse to take the oral meds, they have to get suppositories. Nine months of suppositories. Blehhhhh... We tried peanut butter, but it was a no-go. Then Mark had a "light bulb" moment - frosting!!!! Brooke LOVES frosting. And frosting isn't wet enough to dissolve the crushed pill and spread the bitter taste. It's just thick lard that covers it up. We tried it and - vwah-la! - she loved it! So, as far as Brooke was concerned, Tammy was this really nice lady who came over twice a week and gave her chocolate frosting for breakfast! What ever works!!!! (Brooke owes Mark, big time!!)

Tuesday was Brooke's last dose of TB antibiotic!!!! Tammy brought cupcakes to celebrate. We gave Tammy a tile Brooke made at the pottery place with her handprint. Olivia painted her a little flower dish. Those nine months went by so fast!! Brooke now has a less than 1% chance of ever developing TB. But, she'll always test positive for it, so we'll have paperwork to show she's already been thru treatment. We feel better knowing she won't have to give it a second thought as she gets older. Interestingly, Meng Meng's TB test was negative (yeah!). We were worried he'd be positive since he and Brooke were exposed to most of the same things while in China.

Thank you, Nurse Tammy!!!
Tomorrow marks Brooke's One Year Anniversary of coming to her new home in the United States!!!!! (I was never so glad to hit US soil!!!!) To commemorate the day, we will have lunch at... MacDonalds!! Yeah - I know it sounds goofy, but MacDonalds was her first meal upon entering the US, in the Newark airport. She LOVES MacDonalds. (Daddy will cook a steak for us old folks for dinner.)
I can't believe she's been with us a whole year. On one hand it seems too soon, but on the other hand, it seems like she's always been with us. What more could we want????? (Ha! Mark says he's too old for any more!)