Sunday, October 12, 2008

So Far So Good. . . .

Ian is doing great! So far, things have gone really well. He is pretty content during the day and isn't even on pain medicine except for at night, which is partly for him and partly for us so we can all sleep! Brian's mom and aunt left Thursday morning after taking Olivia to school, and we checked out of the hospital that afternoon. My parents arrived late Thursday night. I think the biggest challenge right now is maneuvering Ian from one place to the other and dealing with his weight, it being awkward, and trying to keep his legs elevated. Plus, we're going to be bound to the house for who knows how long. Yikes!! I'm afraid the days are going to get a little long. If he can go to school next week, that would make the next few weeks seem a lot less daunting. We'll see how it goes though. His appointment to remove the casts is November 13th, so we'll be marking each day off the calendar for sure!

Oliva has had a great time with her grandparents and great aunt, so that's been a lifesaver! My parents haven't made a definite plan as to when they'll go home, but they will definitely be here until Tuesday. Also, Brian is going out of town Monday (tomorrow) but he'll be back Tuesday. Several people from church have offered to help out, and that is also a comfort.

I better go check on Ian. He enjoys being outside, so he's out on a lounger next to his Pops. He also got to go out in the wagon today. Hopefully the weather will stay nice this week, although we could sure use some rain.

Hope everybody has a good week! We're praying for one too!


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Drink Ian Drink!

Ian seems to be feeling fairly well today. He's still on all his pain medicine, but we aren't giving him an extra jolt of it as often as we were, so that's good. The main problem we're having is that he won't eat or drink. They cut back the fluids coming through his IV in the hopes that he will start to get thirsty. They also gave him something for nausea in case that's the problem. Hopefully, he will at least start to drink this afternoon. When he does that, they can get rid of the IV, and he can start taking his meds by mouth. So, that's where we are. Brian stayed the night last night, and it went pretty well. He went home to sleep for a couple of hours when I arrived this morning at 6:30, and came back later. We had lunch and are just waiting for Ian to "get thirsty". It's still too early to guess when we will be able to go home. I'm hoping for tomorrow, but it's looking more like Friday.

Olivia is on the shopping trail again today- maybe looking for something to wear in her school picture tomorrow. Brian's mom and aunt leave tomorrow, and my parents should arrive here late tomorrow night.

Will post again when we start eating and drinking.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Out of Surgery

All has gone well so far today. I stayed the night last night, and things started getting underway about 5:30 this morning. Brian got here about 6:15. The only hiccup was when Ian wouldn't take his morning meds. He fought it all the way, but we ended up getting about half of it down. Apparently it was enough to get him calm and relaxed so that putting in the IV was not too bad. They had some difficulty getting it in but not because he was uncooperative. He did great.

They took him for surgery around 8:00, and he just arrived back in our room a few minutes ago. (It's 11:05.) They put three screws and a plate in each foot. These will be permanent unless there is a problem with them later on down the road. Of course he has the casts on but is still completely out of it. He has plenty of constant pain medication and has a pump if he seems to need additional relief. He awakened only a second or two and then went back to sleep. Anyway, all is going well, and we'll just wait and see as the day goes along. Hopefully he won't be too terribly agitated when he wakes up. So far so good!

Olivia has been having a great time shopping with her grandmother and great aunt. They came up last night for dinner, and then returned home about bedtime. Today is school for her, but they had so much fun shopping yesterday, I think they're back out shopping again instead. They'll probably come again after her nap. She has done great!

Brian is staying the night tonight, which will definitely be a tougher night than last. We still assume we'll be here until Thursday. The'll keep monitoring him, probably try to get him on his feet at some point, and rewrap his legs in a day or two- after the risk of swelling has lessened.

I think that's it. I better get back in there.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Moving Into Fall

I love this time of year! Sometimes I think it's my favorite season. Although the days are still warm here in Louisiana, it's cool in the evenings. We camped out last weekend, which both kids loved, and the weather was perfect.

Ian's school is moving right along. It seemed to take awhile though. Right after it started, they had a day or two out and then when hurricane Gustav came through, they were out for three days. Anyway, he seems to continue to like it, and he's always ready to jump on the bus every morning. We're now starting to think more about his surgery coming up- a week from today. We check in at Shriners (which coincidentally is just minutes from our house) at 9:00 am on Monday the 6th and he has the procedure at 7:00 am on Tuesday. I don't think I know any more about it than I did since my last post, except they say there tends to be more discomfort where the bone was removed than where they graft it and fuse the tendons. I really don't have any idea what to expect, but we're looking forward to it (well, getting it done and out of the way!) and hopefully all will go smoothly. However, Ian's not a big fan of tubes and such. When his stomach procedure was done in May, they had to resedate him, reinsert the tubes, and put splints on his arms to keep him from jerking them out. That's a little tough to watch, but we just shed a little tear or two and then quickly refocus and look ahead to the final outcome and the great results we're going to achieve. Hopefully, we'll all still be in one piece when it's all said and done! And Ian will have straight ankles! Also, Shriners seems to be a fabulous place. Of course it's kid oriented, and very cheery- great open areas to play inside and out. I'm sure Olivia will enjoy it! However, I must say it used to make me a little sad (teary eyed) when we would go for Ian's appointments- kids with so many challenges everywhere you look- but I haven't felt that way in a long time. What I do notice now is all the tough families from all over the world who are stepping up to the challenges and doing it in a positive way! It's not a "big deal"; it's just what you do. . . and do happily most of the time! We'll keep you posted, and don't forget to put all four of us, but mostly Ian, on your prayer list.

As for Olivia, her little world is also going great! She LOVES "school", and we've started going to the library for story time twice a week. She was so excited to start school. We put the calendar up on the friges to count down the days, and one morning before her first day she evidently thought she was supposed to get on the bus with Ian. The first thing I knew she had her purse and shoes on. It wasn't until we put the door down and went back in the house that she started to get upset and point at the bus- which was way down the street by now. She didn't understand why she didn't get to get on. After all, we had just been talking about it for at least a couple of weeks! Finally, her day came, and of course she wanted to wear her backpack, which is as big as she is. She marched right across the parking lot and into her classroom. She didn't shed a tear or even look back at me! I might as well have been on the moon! It seemed to be more traumatic for me than her! I was thrilled and proud she did so well, but no hug or wave- much less a kiss. As I drove home on that first day, I thought about how far she has come in just 6 months- a little over actually. It's incredible to think about how terrified she was those first few days in Thailand- either crying and looking for her shoes or shutting down completely and sleeping through the transition. But, back to her school experience, even now, once she sees the inside of her room, her attention is zeroed in on what's going on in there, not on what Mom's doing! Maybe I need to be more careful of what I wish for! Actually, it's a great to see her spread her wings! She's been a blessing for sure.

With that said, I think I better get to bed.


Monday, August 18, 2008

End of Summer Wrap-Up

It's been a great summer! However, I am definitely looking forward to a little bit of down time! Ian started school this morning. He wasn't ready to get up by any means, but by the time the bus came at 7:25 he was ready to roll! Olivia slept through the whole thing, which made it easier too.

We finished up the summer by going to Gulf Shores with my parents, brother and family, and my grandmother. We all had a great time, and it was a wonderful opportunity for us to spend time together! Since our family lives in Oklahoma, we don't see them for extended periods. Also, my parents were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, so it was a great celebration of their years together.

Olivia is doing great! She will be starting a mother's day out program in a couple of weeks. I don't foresee any problems. She stays with the sitter fine and now goes to Bible class and children's worship by herself. It took awhile for her to stay in Bible class, but one day after we dropped Ian off at his class and asked her if she was ready to go by herself, she said yes and hasn't looked back since! Her speech is coming along- slowly- but in the right direction. She is a big talker, but the majority of what she says we can't understand! I think it must be Thai babble. She does say several English words though and is starting to put two words together with prompting. Another interesting thing she does is when she writes her letters, they still look like the Thai alphabet. I don't think they're really letters of their alphabet, but her scribble letters look distinctly Thai.

The day we left for Gulf Shores Ian had an appointment at Shriners Hospital, which luckily is located about 15 minutes from our house. That morning of the appointment we scheduled him for surgery October 7th. He will be having grafts (with bone being taken from his hip) on the outside of both of his ankles, and they will also fuse ligaments (I think it is ligaments.) on the inside of both ankles. He will be in the hospital the 6th-9th and will come home with casts for 6 weeks. We have known this surgery was coming and were not too surprised to be told we could do it now. We've been waiting for his bones to mature. Of course we hate to have to have the surgery ,but it will be wonderful having this problem fixed. He is such a precious boy and having to watch him go through this will be difficult, no doubt. Hopefully, they will make him as comfortable as possible. I'm sure we will step up the posts as the procedure gets closer.

It looks like someone is getting hungry for breakfast. She has been very patient as I write, which isn't always the case! Have a great day, and I hope the first days of school go well for all our kids. It's an exciting time for them (and us!).


Friday, July 11, 2008

I'm Now Two Years Old!

Miss Olivia just celebrated a major milestone last weekend- July 5th- by turning two! We honored her big achievement by having a party with our families in Oklahoma the end of June, and then a smaller party on the fifth here in Shreveport. She did great, and although she was more interested in playing with her cousin Jade's cell phone at first, she quickly learned that the gift thing could be pretty good too! It was wonderful to be able to celebrate her second birthday (and the first birthday as a member of our family) alongside her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins!

The summer is moving right along, and it has been a good one for us so far. Ian is in summer school, and has also been taking swimming lessons. He LOVES the water, and is very independent when he's in the pool. Swimming and swinging are his two favorite activities. He is doing great with his new sister despite the fact that he somehow manages to find a fist full of her hair from time to time. I think she must have an especially tough head because she rarely cries when it happens. Back to the swimming- Olivia of course goes to the swimming lessons too, and she does pretty well. On the first day though, I turned around and she had pulled her shorts down in front of everyone and was waiting to put her suit on too! Fortunately, when she realized she wouldn't be swimming, she was okay with it and was willing to sit on the edge of the pool and watch. She's a pretty good girl most of the time!

Today we dropped Ian off at school, and Olivia and I drove on to Brian's office to see him for a minute and let his co-workers see her. Several have followed along through our adoption process and seem to enjoy seeing "the outcome" in person. She did well, and several commented on how much she has come out of her shell since their first time to see her. It is wonderful to see the progress she is making! She will be attending "school"- a mother's day out program- this fall, and I think she will love it. Just last Sunday we were able to leave her in her Sunday school class by herself. She was also able to stay in her class Wednesday night too. She didn't cry either time, so I think we have turned a corner there!

Well, I'm going to try to include few pictures before Olivia wakes up, which could be any minute. As always, I have the best intentions to write again soon, but time gets away from me. It sometimes just takes someone to comment on how long it's been since I've posted, and that spurs me on!


Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Month Gone- Already!

Time continues to fly for us! I can't believe it's been a month since I last wrote. We are getting our summer off to a good start and looking forward to the next few months. We had gotten Ian a new tent for his birthday in February (right before we went to Thailand), so last week we broke it out for the first time. Ian has always enjoyed camping out, and this was Olivia's first time, so we decided to just pitch it in the backyard in case we had a disaster. However, she loved it and both kids slept through the night! (Maybe we need to sleep in a tent every night!) We also found out Olivia loves to swim! When we were in Thailand I guess she was so out of sorts, she seemed to be afraid and didn't get in the water. I'm not sure how many times she had had an opportunity to swim before we got her, but she loves it, which is great because we spend most weekends during the summer swimming. Ian loves it too and picked right up where he left off last summer!

The adjustment with Olivia continues. It is definitely a process that doesn't end quickly. She does some of the funniest things and has been so much fun, but I'm just sure she never heard the word "no" or the phrase "just a second" or "wait a minute"! She wants everything immediately on demand. She is getting a bit better but it is a slow process. She also continues to cling to me. At times she lets her daddy take care of her and do things for her but the majority of the time she wants me and no one else. We did finally leave her with a sitter last night. We knew she would cry but she did better than we expected and it was nice to have a night out. I've been with her since day one except for a couple of quick trips to the store and one night when we left her with my parents. We have now been home 12 weeks yesterday, so I definitely needed a break. Oh, I forgot- she also stayed in Bible class with her daddy one time. Sleeping is also getting better, and most nights she goes down easily and falls asleep pretty quickly. I do have to get up with her at least once though. Her speech is still limited, but she seems to understand almost everything we say to her. It's really amazing. Also, she is also quite a little helper- sweeping, unloading and loading the dishwasher, and folding clothes. She is very affectionate with Ian too. She loves to give him hugs and kisses, and the other night she got an alcohol pad and started cleaning a place on him to give his shot! It was the sweetest thing!

In regard to Ian's little hospital stay and the results of that, he is having a lot fewer stomach attacks. Since he is unable to talk, we aren't always absolutely certain whether he is having a stomach problem or something else has him upset, but we do know he has been a happier boy since we started this medication, and we haven't felt the need to take soda and Gas-X every time we leave the house. We have a check up with the gastro the 5th, so we'll see if we need to make any adjustments. Olivia also has her first appointment with the pediatrician that day. Hers is in the morning while Ian is at summer school, and his is in the afternoon. Brian will go to that one with me.

Hopefully, I can get some new pictures up soon. We just had the interview for our first post-placement report and 8-15 pictures are requested, so I hope to get new ones on here when I prepare the ones for the report.

I hope everyone has a great summer. We're off to a great start!


Thursday, May 1, 2008

You Never Know Where You'll Find Yourself!

This evening I am writing from the hospital here in Shreveport. Ian was admitted as a patient this morning at 6:00. All 7 years of Ian's life he has had stomach problems- sometimes worse than others but they could always pop up at any time. A few weeks ago I scheduled him an appointment with a gastrointerologist, which was set for this past Monday. We were at the office from 2:00 until about 5:30, and during the visit the doctor scheduled inpatient testing for today and suggested the possibility of a feeding tube. So, that is what has brought us here. We were quite concerned about the possibility of a feeding tube, and fortunately, after the scope this morning the doctor said he doesn't think it will be necessary. We are so thankful for that news. Also, he thinks we should be able to manage his stomach problems with medications and or supplements. Additional testing is scheduled for tomorrow, and I believe a treatment plan will be developed. We are SO hopeful this will solve or at least greatly reduce his stomach issue, which is primarily gastritis. It has been terribly difficult to manage over the past 7 years, so we are VERY excited to see improvement of any kind!

Olivia has been great today! She and her daddy are even off somewhere without me! Yeah! This is the first time they have been alone together for any significant length of time, so it is quite a milestone for them. I may have to go hunt them down!

I better close for now. They are coming in to do labs soon. All is going well though. We're looking forward to more peaceful days ahead!



Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Free Moment!

I'm finally getting this last picture from Thailand posted. This is the second time I've been able to write in a few short days, so things must be getting better! Actually, Olivia is asleep so I just wanted to get this on here right quick. Soon, I'll add some pictures taken since we've been home.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Return Trip Nightmare Remembered!

Wow, the days fly by and I just can't seem to catch up! Things are going really well though. Olivia slept through the night in her queen size bed, in her room, and by herself for the first time the night before last. It was wonderful! Now, if we can just get Ian back on a good sleeping schedule!

I'm just going to pick up on the story of our return home. Tomorrow will be 5 weeks that we've been home. So, five weeks ago today at this exact time I was having a melt down on the plane in Dallas. I hate to even think about it! Anyway, our return trip had been going great until the lack of diapers and Brian's food poisoning. When we arrived in Dallas, we claimed our bags as quickly as we could and got Olivia out of her wet clothes and into a sundress, sweater, and white sandals. We didn't realize at that time how cold it was outside, but it didn't take us to long to realize it- seeing the majority of people in coats, hats, and scarves was a pretty good clue! We didn't have too long a layover there, so we got some coffee and settled in at the gate while we waited to board. It had also started to rain a little bit. Not too long before boarding time, the airlines informed us that they were doing some maintenance on the plane and it would be a little bit late. Then after a while, we received another update that it would be a little later. I'm not sure how long we were delayed at that time, but we were calling my parents in Shreveport to let them know we would not be on time. Also during this time the weather was starting to get worse. We might have been delayed an hour or so by now, but weren't too concerned about it. My parents would have to make some adjustments with picking us up and being home when the bus dropped Ian off, but that wasn't that big a deal. I'm not sure at what point the rain started turning to ice, but it did. We went ahead and boarded our plane, and when we weren't leaving the gate, the pilot came on and said we were going to be delayed because of the weather. Anyway, this goes on and on and on and. . . . He comes on every 30-45 minutes and gives us an update. The problem was that the storm came in quicker than they expected and they couldn't get the planes de-iced quickly enough. We were waiting in line for de-icing. I'm not keeping track of time too much for some reason, but after a few hours of sitting on the plane with no water or fresh air, I started to get a little nervous- panicky claustrophobic feelings. Thankfully, Olivia is doing great; she's asleep. Without telling Brian how I was feeling, I try to read my book, but I was getting so nervous, I couldn't concentrate. These feelings of panic seemed to come on pretty quickly. Somewhere in there, Brian suggested we do a Sudoku puzzle he had seen in the back of the flight magazine, so that helped quite a bit, but I still started getting very upset- crying, shaking, etc. We called the flight attendant back, and I asked for some water. She didn't act too thrilled to give me any, but came back with about a cup (measuring cup amount!). We also asked about the possibility of returning to the gate, but she said we could only do that if we declared a medical emergency. I will tell you though, I was very, very close to telling her that was what we needed to do, because I wasn't sure I could take it anymore. Anyway, the pilot continued coming on saying we're number such and such in line for de-icing, and then a little later he would come on again and say it might be another 45 minutes or so. This went on for 6 HOURS. The attendant did finally bring everyone some water after several hours, but that was it. Also, the gates were all jammed by other planes in the same situation as us, except that they had never left their gate. Anyway, it was a mess. Finally, we were told that all flights had been canceled, and the plan was to bring a bus out to the tarmac and drive us back up to the building. I felt a little better at that point because I knew we were finally going to get off that plane- a fully loaded prop plane I might add! I'm not going to give anymore details about that situation and how I felt, but I had never had a reaction like that before, and I hope to goodness I never do again! So, now everyone on the plane is trying to figure out what to do- rent a car and drive through the weather or try to find a hotel. We knew both cars and hotels would start getting booked as quickly as we could make a decision. We decided to get a hotel and try to rest, so Brian booked the hotel while we waited on the plane, and after the 6 hours, we finally made it back inside the airport. It was a madhouse and tensions were high. We claimed our bags again, and started trying to figure out how we were going to get to our hotel. We couldn't get through to the hotel by phone, so we started trying to figure out where to get a taxi. Of course it's late by now, and Brian is running around outside the airport in shorts looking for a taxi while it's icy and snowing. Olivia is in a sundress and sandals and the wind is blowing like crazy! We are exhausted, stressed, and very irritable! Plus, we're lugging all this luggage from a two week trip from the other side of the world! Eventually, we get a taxi and get to our hotel, where our room is the furthest away from the lobby and we have to walk (outside, if that tells you anything about our hotel!). Anyway, we are starving so we order a pizza, take showers, and try to sleep. I haven't mentioned Olivia much during this whole ordeal because she has pretty much slept through the whole thing! This means while we are miserably tired, she is ready to play- all night. We ended up getting very little to no sleep, and around 5:00 or 6:00 am Brian gave up and started to try to arrange a rental car. He got a taxi to pick him up an hour or so later, and not too much later came back to the hotel with the car and a huge breakfast from Denny's. By that time, we did feel better and definitely were seeing an end to this ordeal. We didn't know exactly what the weather and roads were going to be like, but it had to be better than going back to that airport and dealing with all the problems we were afraid would be waiting for us. The roads ended up being fine until we got a an hour or so out of Shreveport, and there the snow was falling hard and fast. It was beautiful, and everything was white. There were a few cars on the side of the road, but all of that was nothing compared to what we had experienced the previous 48 hours- or whatever it was! When we arrived in Shreveport, I had never been so happy to be home than I was then! My parents were anxiously awaiting our arrival with Olivia, and we were excited to introduce them to her and start our new lives as a family of four!

Little did we know at that time what was coming next- the worsening of Brian's dad's condition. It has been a very hectic, stressful, sad, happy, tiring 5 weeks. I am thankful to say that things are now going great. Olivia is adjusting beautifully- considering, and we are happily excited to be starting our new lives as a family of four!

It's now been 6 weeks and 4 days since we've been back in the US, and the time has flown by. I wrote this about a week ago, and have had it in draft form since then. I apologize for any errors or worse than usual writing, but I'm just happy I'm finally getting it posted. I'm not going back right now to make any changes it may need.

I do want to mention how much we appreciate those who have followed along on our journey to bring Olivia home. It has been quite an experience so far, and we look forward to many fun and happy years ahead! The next group of Holt families traveling to Thailand have been identified, and although I am so excited for them, I am a little sad our time for that has passed. Everyone is moving on. And, although our posts won't be nearly as exciting in the near future, I plan to continue writing as regularly as I can. Of course I'll include news on Olivia and Ian and any major family updates. For now, the adjustment period is still in full swing, things are running a little smoother all the time, and Olivia has her green card. We also have 3 post placement reports to complete with the social worker over the next 6 months and must make a trip to the Thai consulate in Chicago. The next time I write, I'll go into more detail about some of that. I was emailing one of the other families that traveled with us, and we both feel we were much better prepared for the initial challenges but not so much the challenges we have faced since returning home. I don't know what I expected, but it definitely has been a challenge, but fun too! I still have a picture taken as we were leaving the hotel for the last time that I want to add and some pictures we have taken since we've been home. With any luck, maybe I can do that tomorrow. I've got to close for now though. I never know how much sleep I'm going to get from night to night, and last night was a little rough. I'm hoping for more rest tonight. 6:15 will be here before I know it, and the bus isn't going to wait! I will write again soon and hopefully sooner than this last time.


Sunday, March 30, 2008

It's Nice To Be Home!

This was the first weekend we have all been home together and it was wonderful! The kids and I had a great time last week visiting my family, but after traveling almost non-stop since Feb 21st, home has never been so good!

The adjustment period is going quite well. Olivia is so much fun, and the pictures we received before we went to Bangkok pretty much depict her personality too. She can be the sweetest thing ever, but she also throws more than enough tantrums. She is very much a "girly-girl", so that is fun for me. She has her own "stick"- chap stick- and likes for her daddy to put lotion on her arms and legs at night. She makes sure to point out any places he might miss. Kids in Thailand play by imitating more than with toys, so she is often mimicking the things I do. She is sitting next to me as I type, and she is pretend typing too. Unfortunately, it's almost 10:00, and she doesn't seem to be ready for bed yet. Ian has been down since around 8:30. Hopefully, she is going to give it up soon!

Ian has been doing great with Olivia. He lets her give him hugs and kisses, and he seems to be calmer and more affectionate. It's really interesting to watch, and it's nice that he lets us "love on him". Several times Olivia has picked up his cane and walked with it like Ian does. (If someone isn't aware of it, Ian is completely blind.) It was the sweetest thing. Tonight at church, nothing would do him but that he scoot right up next to her while we were sitting down- almost right on top of her. Sometimes she does the same thing to him.

Today was our first time to be at our home congregation, and we had a very nice welcome. We hadn't been since the 17th of February, so it was wonderful to see everyone and introduce them to Olivia. She did great- not many smiles, but she took it all in and did great at Bible class- except when the teacher didn't dole out the goldfish fast enough!

I know this is long, but I have the time and want to go back and mention our trip. We had a wonderful and most memorable time. I knew we would; there was no doubt about that. Aside from the life changing event that took us to Thailand, Brian and I just love the whole international scene. I know it's not for everyone, but I have always liked to travel, and Brian has the bug too. Bangkok got a little suffocating, but the beach was a wonderful break from the bustle. It also gave Olivia space to relax, run, and play. She really started to open up in the taxi on the way. The other night we watched the video we made, and I got a little nervous just watching the replay of when the social workers brought the kids in. It was just a priceless, priceless moment!

About the return trip: It was pretty much a nightmare. Everything was going along great for awhile. We had to be out of our hotel at 4:00, and our flight didn't leave until almost 11:00 pm, but the wait went surprisingly quickly. We ate dinner, and Chad and Hirally (one of the other two adopting families) soon arrived at the airport. That flight went great- no problems. When we arrived in Narita, our stroller had gotten lost, but after about an hour wait (and we had about a 7 or 8 hour layover) the strollers finally arrived. (They also lost Chad and Hirally's stroller.) That 8 hours again went surprisingly quick. We hung out with Chad and Hirally for quite some time, so that helped immensely. It was fun getting to know them better and watching our kids interact. We stopped for coffee and went to the indoor playground, which we had all to ourselves. Then, it was time to tell them good-bye, which was hard, and they went to their terminal and we started making our way to our gate. When we got on the plane, we were happy to have an extra empty seat on our row. We didn't really end up using it too much, but it was really nice having a little more space to move around. Things were going well through the first half of the flight, which I think was around 10-12 hours long. Then Brian started feeling sick. I will just say that it was a good thing we were as close to the restroom as we were, because he was in it many many times. When one person would get out, he would dart in. The other bad thing is that we had run out of diapers. I did not follow the recommendation to pack an extra set of clothing for Olivia, and at that point it really wouldn't have mattered because she would have just soaked through those too. Anyway, she was soaked. I was soaked, our seat, etc. It was miserable! Of course this was going on while Brian was running back and forth to the restroom due to food poisioning! This went on for several hours, so my nerves were starting to get a little frayed, to say the least. Luckily, I did pack a change of clothes for me, so close to the end of the flight I changed, and the flight attendant had brought napkins, tape, and a couple of plastic bags for Olivia. I actually thought airlines carried some for emergencies- apparently not. For those families waiting to travel: take more diapers than you think you will need, and definitely pack a change of clothes for your child! I spent quite a bit of time shopping for what Olivia was going to wear home, and I just thought, "Oh, we'll be on top of the diaper changing. She'll be fine." Plus, it takes up space to pack another change of clothes. Anyway, it was a bad decision is all I can say!

Okay, I'm going to stop here and will finish the story- maybe tomorrow. It's almost 11:00 and Olivia has fallen asleep here next to me in the chair.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Is There A Routine In Sight?!

We made it home last night around 12:30. The kids and I had a nice visit with my family and several friends in Edmond. However, after traveling for so long, we are finally staying home, with no more travel in sight. We will have been in the US 3 weeks tomorrow, with only a handful of days (scattered here and there) actually spent at home. I'm anxious for Olivia to learn where "home" is! Ian and I are also glad to be back, although it was nice to be able to introduce Oliva to our families right away. I know Brian has also missed us these last few days. Ian gave him a big smile, and Olivia even gave him a hug and let him pick her up!

It's a little after 10:00 and Ian is still sacked out. Olivia has been up quite awhile and wants me to hold her constantly. I know she is tired. Once we get both of them down tonight, maybe I can catch up and write about some things I just can't get to when I'm trying to pacify both kids (and the dog) at the same time!


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Home Again!

Just a quick note to let you know we are home. We're continuing to adjust and recover from the last month. It's been quite an emotional roller coaster for sure, but we're doing well, considering. Thank you for all the congratulatory wishes, condolences, and birthday cards (for me).

We're going to hit the road one more time before hopefully settling down into a routine. Brian is returning to Tahlequah to help his mom take care of some things, and I'm taking the kids to Edmond to see my family. Brian is just staying over the weekend, but we're staying a few days into next week.

I've hardly had time to reflect on our trip to Thailand, but it was wonderful. When we get back from OK, I will write more about it. I've got another picture from Thailand to post too. We've only been back two weeks tomorrow, but with all that has happened, in some ways it feels like longer. I'm already ready to go back! Well, maybe not quite yet!

I've got to run. Hope everyone is doing well. No school tomorrow, so if I don't happen to get back with you before Sunday, Happy Easter!


For those of you who have asked, Olivia wears 12 months and sometimes those are a little big around the waist!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Funeral Service Confirmed

The service for Brian's dad will be Monday, 2:00 at South College Church of Christ, 410 South College, Tahlequah, OK 74464. Brian's family is doing okay. Olivia has been a nice diversion. She has been very happy and seems comfortable enough with all of the visitors we have had. I think the family has been happy she is here. Thank you for the notes of sympathy we have received. I know Brian appreciates it.


Friday, March 14, 2008

Sad News

Just wanted to let you know Brian's dad passed away late last night. Brian was with him at the time. Funeral arrangements are being made now, and I will update again when the date and time of the service is confirmed. It will be held at the South College Church of Christ, 410 S. College Ave, Tahlequah, OK.

Please keep Brian and his family in your prayers.


Monday, March 10, 2008

3rd Full Day Home And Going Well!

Today went very smoothly. My parents were still here this morning to get Ian on the bus, which was great! Olivia was up from about 3:00 am to 5:00 am last night, but we didn't have to get out the toys, so there is a little more improvement! She stayed in bed. She continued sleeping when I got up at 6:30 to help with Ian. When my mom and dad and I went outside to wait for the bus, we started hearing screaming. Wouldn't you know she chose to get up during those few minutes?! She was very good during the day, and when Ian came home from school, she was taking her nap, so that worked out well too. So, all-in-all today was a good day, and I actually think I can do this! She is really starting to adjust. I still need to get some pictures up from our last day in Thailand and our return home. Maybe I can do that in the next day or two. This was only our 3rd full day to be home. With all that has been going on, I haven't had a chance to buy Olivia any proper shoes for this time of year. She's still wearing socks with her sandals. Tennis shoes are a number one purchase on our list!

As life brings many highs (adding to your family) it sometimes can bring lows at the same time. Brian came home from seeing his Dad in Houston last night, and his condition has taken a turn for the worse. Sadly, the doctors feel there is nothing more they can do. The cancer is spreading very quickly, so he is being transported home tonight and will arrive in OK early in the morning. Hospice will be there to provide support for the rest of the time he has. We are leaving in the morning to go to OK and don't know how long we will be there- depending on his condition. I know I have said this before, but he is such a wonderful man, and he knows (as do everyone that is well acquainted with him) where his home is. One of the nurses asked him where his home is and he said, "heaven". Difficult as the situation is, it is a comfort to have that wonderful confidence in the future. I know it must be a comfort to him, and it definitely is to those around him. I will try to write again during the week as time allows.

Please keep Brian's dad, mom, sister, and Brian in your prayers.


Sunday, March 9, 2008

Home and Adusting

It seems I don't have time to write all that I would like to, but maybe tomorrow when Ian is at school I can give a good update on our return trip and what has been going on since then. I will also post some new pictures. We have been busy to say the least. Thankfully, we arrived home Friday afternoon by car. We were exhausted and are trying to get back on a sleeping schedule. The night in the hotel at Dallas was pretty much a disaster, but things have gotten better the last two nights. Olivia and I are sleeping together in her room and have been up coloring, stacking cups, and playing with Mr. Potato Head at all hours of the night! I know it doesn't sound like it's getting better but it really is. It seems her awake hours in the night are moving later in the morning until hopefully she won't get up until at least 6:00. Coloring and Mr. Potato Head at 3:00 in the morning is a little rough! My parents are staying until tomorrow, and they have been absolute lifesavers! I really don't know what I would have done if they hadn't been here these last couple of days- especially since Brian needed to leave the day after we arrived home. His mom called to say that his dad was not doing well at all in Houston (MD Anderson) and that he needed to come right away. He was exhausted after taking 50 some hours to get home from Thailand, and I worried about him turning around to make the trip to Houston, although I knew that's were he needed to be. He is planning to come home today. Olivia is asleep right now, and I would really like to take a little nap myself. However, I just wanted to take a minute to let you know we are home- safe and sound- and that things are better today than they were yesterday, and that I'm sure each day is going to get easier. I will write again tomorrow to describe a little more about our trip home and how things are going now.


Friday, March 7, 2008

No, We're Not Home Yet!!

Just a quick note to say that we haven't gotten home yet. The last 2 days have been full of the kinds of challenges you try to avoid at all costs- mainly getting sick on a 10 hour flight, running out of diapers on a plane with several hours to go, getting stuck on a tarmack for 6 hours (with a child!), and getting your flight cancelled after the 6 hours. It's Friday 7:00 am (Dallas time), and Brian has gone to get a rental car while Olivia and I wait for him in our hotel. We've had little to no sleep over the last 48+ hours, and since we were awake a great deal of last night too, Brian just went ahead and got up to arrange a rental. We are finished with airplanes and airports for a while! Good luck to anyone preparing to travel somewhere!

Olivia is needing some attention so I'll give you the details later- when we get home, whenever that might be! Trust me, there aren't any cute pictures to post over this time period!


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Last Day

It's Wed, 11:30 am here (Tues, 10:30 pm there) and we're starting to wind things down. Olivia has had a good morning, but oh my this sweet darling girl WANTS HER WAY, and she can really "turn it on and off". I'm not sure how much time we're supposed to giver her before we start cracking down.

We need to be out of our hotel at 4:00. It takes about 40 minutes to get to the airport, and our flight isn't until 10:30 pm on JAL (Japan Airlines). We're going to have a nice little wait! We still may go to the pool for a couple of hours this afternoon.

I'm posting our flight schedule to the right, and you probably won't here from us again until we arrive in Shreveport.

Olivia is about ready for a nap, so we're going to go pack while she sleeps (hopefully!).

See you on the other side!


Last Night

Shoot! I forgot to bring my flight schedule downstairs. Well, I'll get back on here tomorrow to post it before we leave. Our flight isn't until almost 11:00 tomorrow night, so we may spend part of the day at the pool. One of the other families is on the same flight.

Olivia has had a great day! No tears at all. Yeah!! Smiles all around! Also, we heard her talk for the first time. She said bye-bye to the elevator attendant. I haven't taken the time to brag on her, but she is as cute as can be. I am anxious for everyone to meet her. She is very curious and independent. She prefers to use her spoon by herself, and definitely does not want you to hold her bowl. She is into everything. The first thing Brian did when we arrived back at the Amari was put away all the nick-knacks. She likes to play hide 'n seek with Brian and flashes him the cutest smile you've ever seen. She is also strong willed, and I believe is used to getting her way. We had been told she stomps her feet when she is mad. We haven't seen any stomping yet, but you can probably imagine why- she pretty much gets her way (for now)!

We bought toys today for the trip home, so hopefully she'll stay somewhat occupied and all will go well. Of course we don't want to disturb everyone around us.

We are getting ready to make our last trip to the grocery store across the street. It's a little sad this is our last night but exciting to get home to see Ian , our families, and friends.

I'm going to run before Olivia Kantika crashes!

'til tomorrow- Leah

Monday, March 3, 2008

Update on Flight Schedule

Just to let you know, we did not get an early flight, so we will still be leaving Wed and arriving in Shreveport on Thursday. Things have gone well again today. We took a river boat ride this afternoon, picked up laundry, changed money, and picked up take out this evening. Olivia has been very happy except for this morning. You will not believe her personality. She is QUITE a character- very funny and outgoing. She blows kisses, waves, and weis (Thai greeting with hands together, fingers up, chest high), and she does these things all the time. I don't expect her to be doing them right when we get home but hopefully not long after she becomes adjusted.

She's about to fall asleep on Brian as I type, so I'm going to close for now. We are definitely past the hard part. Please pray for a safe and pleasant plane ride Wed. Hopefully, she will sleep a lot of the first leg since we're not leaving until almost 11:00 pm. I will post our flight schedule tomorrow.


Sunday, March 2, 2008

Back To Our Home Away From Home

We made it back to the Amari last night just fine. Yesterday morning we went to the pool for a couple of hours, and Olivia got in for a little bit - up to her chest. That was the deepest she had gotten in. She really enjoyed trying to do aerobics with the class too. She put on quite a show! I didn't write last night because she didn't want me out of her sight and I ended up falling asleep before she did!

As I have said before, she STRONGLY DISLIKES our hotel room. I guess it is because it's small. I'm not sure. She was okay with it last night when we arrived, but this morning she cried and whined until we left the room, and then everything was great. I think she is going to be a little "goer"!

We're getting ready to check on changing our flight to tonight or tomorrow. If we can't, we will probably go do a river boat ride, go to the park, and do a little bit of shopping. We need to get a couple of new toys for the plane ride home.

I'll write when I know what our travel plans are. All is going well, and I'm glad it is at home too!


Saturday, March 1, 2008

A Few Pictures

We just took these late this afternoon and this evening after we had Thai food and ice cream for dinner. Thought I would add them right quick before we lose our internet.


The Light At The End Of The Tunnel

I just thought I would go ahead and write in case something came up and I didn't get a chance to tonight. Olivia has had a wonderful day so far! She has not cried a single time, so we are thrilled! She woke up happy, was happy at breakfast, and oh I forgot, she did cry a little bit at the pool, but that didn't last but a second or two. She was sleepy though and quickly fell asleep out on the lounger for quite a long time. We ordered lunch by the pool while she slept, and then went up to the room to get ready to go arrange our car for tomorrow and change more money. Now we're just hanging out in the room. (Our room is great- very open with two large sliding doors and balconies. There is lots of floor space too so she can run around.) Anyway, she and Brian are playing with the play-doh as I type. I'm not sure what we're going to do the rest of the day. Olivia and Brian are pretty content to stay in the room, and I'm trying to be content too!

I may not get on again tonight but will when we arrive at the Amari tomorrow evening. Hopefully, it won't bring back unhappy memories for Olivia! We are going to go ahead and try to get an early flight back. We aren't scheduled to leave Bangkok until late Wed night, but we are going to try to get a flight back late Monday night if we can. I'll keep you posted.


Friday, February 29, 2008

Better and Better!!

I missed writing last night. Things went very smoothly yesterday morning. We met everyone at the US embassy at 8:00, were called to the window around 8:45, and about 30 minutes later we had Olivia's passport with visa. She is now an American citizen when we arrive in Dallas!!!

Since we finished so early, we went straight back to our hotel and arranged our car and driver to pick us up at 12:00. We had a little time to kill since we had packed the night before, so we hired a tuk-tuk to take us around for about an hour. Olivia hated our hotel room at the Amari, so we tried to stay out of there as much as possible! The drive to Hua Hin was uneventful but pleasant. We enjoyed the scenery, and Olivia slept a great deal of the drive. When she wasn't sleeping, she was actually playing with some of her toys.

When we arrived at the resort, we settled in and headed down to the beach and pool pretty quickly. I must say it didn't go so well though. She wanted to stand up in the sand and put her feet in the water, but the minute the waves came up (just to her ankles!) she decided it wasn't for her! She cried a great deal of the time we were walking around on the beach, unless we were looking at the horses. She LOVES animals- except barking dogs. The pool didn't go much better. We went to a Thai place for dinner and that didn't go so well. We got our ice cream to go, so you can imagine. She also cried herself to sleep when we got back to the hotel. I'm not sure I have mentioned, but she does sleep well at night. She sleeps with us, usually wakes up twice for a drink of water, and goes right back to sleep.

Unfortunately, today started off about the same as last night. Breakfast, although the food was wonderful, consisted of Brian and me taking turns eating. I grabbed a danish on my way back to the room, so again I'm sure you get the picture! We spent the morning in the room, and Olivia fell asleep while I was holding her. When she woke up, she seemed to be a different child. We played in the room before lunch and she had a great time. Then, when we went to Burger King, she had so much fun. Afterwards, we walked around with her in the stroller and she loved that. By the way, we had not tried putting her in the stroller since the first day we met her, which was a disaster, so I put Bunny (her Build A Bear rabbit) in the stroller and pushed her around the room. After she saw Bunny could do it, she was ready for her turn! She practically threw Bunny out so she could get in! I think you will be able to see how much more relaxed she is in the pictures. She really had a great day today- other than this morning!

Anyway, about 4:00 we decided to try the pool again. We were hoping she would take a nap after we had lunch and shopped, but she wasn't interested in that and just wanted to play. (Some of the pictures are from that period of time.) So, at 4:00 she and Brian changed into their swimsuits and we went down. We were really trying to ease her into it, and she was doing really well until she jumped in! Brian was already in and she was standing on the second step. I was standing right next to her- touching her almost the whole time- practically on top of her. They were throwing this ball back and forth, and when it didn't come right to her, she decided to jump on in after it! Of course, everything turned south for a few minutes after that. We almost gave up and headed back to the room, but it wasn't long before she was over it, and although she didn't want to get back in the water, she did sit on the side for awhile and walked all around the pool. She also lay down on a lounger for a few minutes and let some man take her picture. She was totally relaxed and happy by the time we went back up to get ready for dinner.

Dinner went great. She loved her spaghetti, so we are glad she is starting to eat better for us. She was so happy, and all of a sudden she asked for her little pillow, put it on the table, and fell asleep!

So that's what has been going on the last two days. Overall, things are definitely getting better, but it's not smooth sailing yet! I'm praying for a good day tomorrow.

I hope you enjoy the pictures. It is just wonderful to see her loosening up! I have the internet in the room for 24 hours, so I should be able to write again tomorrow evening, and then Sunday night we'll be back at the Amari in Bangkok.

I hope everyone has a good weekend!


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Be Careful What You Wish For!!

Today has been a great but long day. We started off by getting up at 6:30 to get the 3 of us ready, eat breakfast, and meet everyone at 8:15 to go to the Thai board meeting. This was the day to dress up and hear the words "you can keep her"! The board consisted of about 4 people, and they were very friendly and easy to converse with. We were in there around 5-10 minutes, signed the paperwork, and we were finished. There were other families with other agencies and from other countries, so we visited with some of them. We noticed one family was adopting an older child with behaviors similar to Ians. Brian began visiting with them and the boy was in fact blind, non-verbal, etc. They were from the UK.

When we finished there, the van dropped Brian, Olivia, myself, and our worker (Mo) off at USCIS to file our I600. We were there a long time, and I started getting a little nervous. They were looking for a paper we didn't have, and people were making phone calls to track down this paper and confirm that Olivia was an orphan. Anyway, after waiting about 1 1/2 hours, they called us in and we were approved. What a relief! We immediately ran across the street to try to get our meeting for tomorrow scheduled. The office closed at 3:00, and we got there around 2:30. This means that tomorrow we will be able to join the other families at the US embassy for the next step of the visa process, which is one last interview. (For those reading this who are in the process, it is not typical that you file your I600 in Bangkok. You usually do it in the states and have the approval before you leave to come to Thailand. Ours just didn't work that way, and I just don't want to cause you any confusion.)

So, tomorrow we meet everyone again at 8:00 to go to the embassy. We will then get Olivia's visa either tomorrow afternoon or Monday. I think when that's done, we're set! We also are planning to leave tomorrow evening to go to Hua Hin, which is a few hours drive. Brian arranged for a car and driver this afternoon, so we will leave as soon as we finish at the embassy. We will be at Hua Hin (a beach resort) until Sunday, and then Monday pick up our visa if we don't have it already. Because we couldn't get a good flight schedule on Tuesday, we won't be leaving until Wed. I can't believe I'm already mentioning that word. The time is going by quickly! Brian is packing for our trip tomorrow right now.

As far as Olivia's transition goes, we got our first smile today! It came as we were on the bridge crossing a major street from one gov building to the other. She even let out a little laugh! Brian was the one holding her when she did it, so it made his day! He said he will never forget it and neither will I. I said "be careful what you wish for" because I was really wanting Olivia to bond with Brian and let him carry her, care for her, etc. And, this morning she was all his! I thought I was going to have to jerk her out of his arms! Well, I did finally get my turn again this afternoon! Of course, I am so glad she will come to both of us!

I guess that's it for tonight. I've got to run across the street to the store and pick up some things for our road trip tomorrow. I'm not sure what our internet situation will be in Hua Hin, so I'm not certain we will have an opportunity to write. We'll just have to see when we get there. When we return to Bangkok on Sunday, we'll be back here at the Amari Hotel, so we'll definitely have service that night. I'll try to write while we're gone though too.

Hope everyone is doing well.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The First Day of Forever!!!

Today was a bitter-sweet day for sure! The hand off went okay. Olivia stopped crying long enough to get the group picture taken anyway. (It has been great having Tracy and Hirally's families here too.) After we got her this morning (which was a bit teary for everyone), we went up to the room for awhile and tried to play with some toys. She was somewhat interested and then fell asleep. When she woke up, we went to the mall. That went great actually. She even let Brian carry her around in the pack and fell asleep again. She is now letting him hold her and carry her but doesn't want me out of her sight. Right now she is standing next to me with her bottle and pillow, which she loves. Not clinging and crying is a big step! A big concern right now is her eating- she isn't. She did drink a yogurt and 1 1/2 pretzels. That's it though. Hopefully, she'll eat tomorrow. We looked for some Pediasure across the street from the hotel but only found it in the powder. Don't they make it premixed in the cans?

Tomorrow we meet everyone at 8:15 to go in front of the Thai board, and then since we were unable to file one of our documents before we left the US, we will go to a section of the US embassy after that. We're free for the day when we finish. We may go to the palace and river in the afternoon. Olivia seems to do better when we're out of the room and on the move. I prefer that myself!

We are really enjoying being in Bangkok. It is busier than I remembered and busier than Kuala Lumpur. I must say the whole feel of the city is different than KL. I think it's primarily because of the Muslim influence. It just seems morals are higher there.

I am adding a couple of pictures, and hopefully as she adjusts, we'll have more to post. I can't tell you how wonderful it is to receive encouragement from those of you who have written. This is a wonderful experience but definitely not stress free!!

'Til tomorrow!


Monday, February 25, 2008

Whaaaaah: A Few More Tears, But It's Getting Better

Thanks to everyone who has responded to our blog. We are enjoying reading your responses.

Today was somewhat smoother. We met the babies at 10:30 this morning, and Olivia walked in holding her worker's hand. She was not crying at the time, but she had a little tear so I know she had been. About 30 seconds after she saw us she did start crying. We took her outside and it subsided a bit. We all got in the van, and headed to the shopping center for lunch. She at a little bit, and we had just had breakfast so we didn't eat. She cried off and on during this time. When we finished lunch, we were free to shop and walk around. A social worker went with each family. We bought Olivia some white sandals, and she cried the entire time she was trying them on. However, she eventually stopped as we toured the toy section! The worker stood back out of sight, and that seemed to make a big difference. After shopping, we returned to the hotel for a little while and stayed in the room. Olivia did stand up by herself- she's usually all over me- and let Brian help her push buttons on her book. When we left the room, she walked holding my hand. So, I think we made a little progress today- not a lot but a little. I expect things to improve when we get her for good tomorrow. The children will be telling their foster families good-bye for the last time tomorrow morning, and will meet us here at the hotel at 11:00. We will have them to ourselves the rest of the day, and we are looking forward to that! Hopefully, things will improve quickly. We haven't made plans for the day yet. We'll just see how it goes. We might take the boat ride down the river and canals and visit the grand palace, although we did those things when we were here several years ago. I wouldn't mind seeing them again though or we might spend the afternoon swimming.

We haven't spoken to my parents but received a wonderful email from them saying everything is going really well with Ian. That is such a relief for us! (and my parents too)

I guess that's it for tonight. Please pray for a smooth transition tomorrow! We're doing great but are really tired. Hopefully, we'll have a great night's sleep.

I hope all is well with all of you. See you tomorrow! I'll add some more pictures then.

Leah and Brian

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Quite A Day!!!

I'm not sure how to describe our day today, but I will say it was about what we had expected. I didn't sleep all that great last night- awake from 1-2:00 and tossing and turning the rest of the night- and we got up a little earlier than we needed to. We went down for breakfast, anxiously walked around outside the hotel a little bit, and then went upstairs as we waited for 9:45 to roll around. When we got downstairs, the other two couples and social workers were already there, so we went on into the meeting room to review the schedule, watch a video, and prepare for the kids to come. 10:30 was the magic minute when they started to come in! We heard one child out in the hall crying, and guess who that was?! Our dear Olivia was letting all know how she felt about what was going on! She stopped crying in a couple of minutes and came on in behind the other two children and their workers. She still had tears in her eyes but was calm. Then it wasn't any time until she got fired up again. One of the other two children was also crying off and on. We tried playing ball, blowing bubbles, looking outside at the trains, and pushing buttons on books. Finally, she calmed enough to play a little bit but would easily start crying again. After quite awhile of this, they had me go ahead and take her from the social worker. She cried off and on, and Brian tried holding her but she also cried with him. By the time we went to lunch, around 11:30, she was calm and went to sleep in my arms in the hotel restaurant. After lunch, we went up to the room (the two social workers with us) and showed her our room, and before long the social workers left and we were with her by ourselves for awhile. At 2:00 we were to be back downstairs to go to the foster mother's home, which was about 1 1/2 hours outside Bangkok. Olivia was good all the way out there- she slept most of the time- and she was so happy when we arrived.

The family was very friendly, and we enjoyed our time with them. The social workers acted as translators, and we were able to ask as many questions as we wanted. The foster mother asked who the primary caretaker would be and if we would send pictures over the years. Olivia was her first foster child, so I'm sure it is going to be especially difficult for her. We have been told she has been the "little princess". Olivia seemed to feel comfortable and happy, but still wary of what we were doing there. When we prepared to leave, she began to cry a little. I am sure she was afraid we were going to take her away.

Fortunately, we were not surprised or devastated with her behavior. We were prepared for anything to happen, and I was able to cuddle with her, and she did lay her head on my shoulder and snuggle up to me, so she definitely was not crying ALL the time, but off an on- except when she was asleep. It was a long but exciting day, and it looks like we're going to have our work cut out for us. She is so beautiful though, and I know in time she will be a totally different child. We did get a glimpse of that while we were at the foster mother's house.

I'm really looking forward to tomorrow, and although I know we will experience some of the same things, it should be better, and I'm anxious to see her again. We are taking the kids to a big shopping center, having lunch there, and then coming back to the hotel for awhile. Then all three kids will return to their foster homes for one last night. Wow, that's going to be tough on the foster parents.

I am posting pictures from today, but unfortunately they aren't too smiley. Maybe tomorrow!

Brian is about to fall asleep on me and we're downstairs in the lobby, so I'm going to have to get off. I'm tired too! Will write more tomorrow.


Friday, February 22, 2008

Arrived and Settled In!!

It's Sat morning here (your Friday night) and we are ready to start the day! The flights were good but of course very long- 13 hours and 8 hours. We quickly got a cab and made it to the hotel just fine. Had a good night sleep and great breakfast this morning. Brian has been trying to get his bearings, and we're getting ready to hit the town! Well, just look around anyway. The hotel is very nice, and the location is going to be convenient. It's close to the train, and there is a little grocery store and outdoor restaurant- like Naan Corner- nearby. We're having many flashbacks of our time in Malaysia!

We're meeting Holt tomorrow 9:45, and Olivia comes at 10:30. We are also scheduled to visit the foster mother's house tomorrow afternoon. I'm very anxious and a little nervous too!

All is well. We're writing this from the business center in the hotel and are trying to figure out the best way to access the computer.

Will blog more later- not sure if later today or tomorrow.

Leah & Brian

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


My apologies for being so slow to write. I usually try to put some thought into my updates and proof them, but it takes time that right now, I just don't have a lot of, and I'm not sure how it will be when we're in Thailand. So, from now on please disregard mistakes, sentences that don't always make sense, and ramblings.

My parents arrived Monday afternoon, and we had another birthday party for Ian. He had a great time opening his cards! Thanks to everyone who sent money, cards, and gift cards. Again, I can't believe he is 7 years old. My parents were shocked at how much he has grown just since Christmas. I knew he had put on a lot of weight and filled out quite a bit, but they are still commenting on how much bigger he is, which is a good thing because he needed to add a few pounds!

We have been very busy since Pops and Memi have been here, and we are SO thankful they were able to come. We have had fun running around, going through all the gifts from the shower, playing with Ian, and just preparing to leave. I thought it would be fun for them to send a Build A Bear with us to give to Olivia when we meet her. We had quite a laugh yesterday as they recorded their own message (several times) to be inserted. I know that's going to be a great keep sake, and I think they enjoyed doing it.

Brian has also been very busy. He wasn't home from work until 10:00 or so last night and said today will be nuts too. He has recently taken over a new department, so he's busier than usual right now. I know we both will breathe a huge sigh of relief once we get on the plane.

I also want to mention the shower the church gave us Sunday afternoon. Thank you to everyone who came to support us and help us celebrate Olivia's upcoming arrival. Especially thank you to the hostesses: Lisa, Crystal, Vivian, Lori and Barbara. I'll be anxious to see the pictures!

Brian's dad started his chemo at MD Anderson Monday, and that seems to be going well so far. He has even been feeling a bit better, and I think the doctors are trying some different medications to manage the pain he has been experiencing for so long. They are most concerned about his liver, so that is the area needing the most attention. The cancer is not in his bones, which is of course great news, but it is in his bone marrow, which is not the same thing as being in the bone. Brian's mom is staying with him at the hospital around the clock, and his sister is staying in an apartment right there in the vicinity.

Well, I have gotten mine and Olivia's bags just about packed, but I've got many things on my list to do today. I just wanted to make sure I took time to write before we leave TOMORROW. The schedule is to the right, and the time difference is 13 hours, so if it's 10:00 am here, it's 11:00 pm in Thailand. If it's 9:00 pm here, it's 10:00 am (the next day) there. The schedule reflects what is going on at that time in Thailand- not here. I hope that makes sense. So, we will be meeting Olivia for the first time around 9:00 Sat night your time , which is 10:00 am Bangkok time.

We'll do our best to blog and download pictures daily. I don't know for sure what our situation will be, but we will really make an effort to update each day.

I've got to run! The clock is ticking!!

See you in Thailand!


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Birthday Boy in the House!

Today is Ian's 7th birthday! As people always say, "I can't believe where the time has gone", I also am saying that today. Development has been very slow these past 7 years, and because of that you might think the time has gone by slowly, but for us it hasn't worked that way. It has still passed quickly, and Ian has taught us many things we would never have learned had he not been a special needs child. Hopefully, Brian and I are better for it! We're planning to have a little party for him today and another one when his Pops and Memi come from OK on Monday. Ian isn't a big sweets eater, so a treat for him is going to be a huge bowl of Fritos with a lighted number 7 in the middle! Brian is also planning to come home early so we can light the outdoor firepit and roast marshmellows. (Ian loves to be outside.) Gifts can be tricky, but anything that promotes movement is usually a hit. Happy Birthday Ian!! We love you!!

Our trip to Houston went pretty much as we anticipated. Brian's parents arrived Wed. (the day before us) and settled into their hotel. However, they were able to move to an apartment Friday night. There were no appointments Sat or Sunday, but they started testing yesterday- Monday. (Brian's sister arrived Sunday night- just a few hours after we left.) They said yesterday's testing went well but of course they were tired. The testing will continue until Wed, and Thursday afternoon they will meet with the doctor to find out what the treatment options are. They are prepared to stay in Houston for the treatment if that is the recommendation. Brian is considering going to the appointment on Thursday but has not decided for sure. Please continue to pray for his mom and dad. It is such a difficult situation but very inspiring to watch a couple married for so many years care for each other when the chips are down. What a wonderful example they are for us.

As I said, Pops and Memi (my parents), are coming Monday to learn the ropes on taking care of Ian while we're in Thailand. Needless to say, I'm nervous to leave him for two weeks. Trying to figure out what he wants is a constant quandry I'm in, and figuring it out ASAP is of utmost importance- or you better have nerves of steel! As far as safety, I've told them, "Just don't shut his fingers in the car door!" That probably sounds like a funny request, but when you have a blind child, their fingers are pretty darn important! Oh, and their backs! I hope they've been hitting the gym this month!

Preparations to bring Olivia home are going just fine. Sometimes at night, when I'm lying awake in bed, my stomach starts doing flip-flops and I question whether I will be able to concentrate the last couple of days to wrap things up here. I know I'll be able to, but it can be a bit overwhelming! The next time I write, I'll post the tentative schedule on the right so you can see what will be going on once we arrive in Bangkok.

I've got to go! I can't stay on this computer all day! I've got birthday presents to buy!

Hope everyone has a good week!


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Family Update- Medical Treatment In Houston

As I have posted before, Brian's dad has been very sick. He was diagnosed with lymphoma this summer and started chemo. It appeared to be working, and he finished his last treatment a little before Christmas. But soon after the last treatment, he started experiencing a lot of pain and was admitted to the hospital. After a few weeks he was released, but Friday we found out the cancer has spread to several areas of his body. He and Brian's mom are flying to MD Anderson (from OK) tomorrow, and Jerry has an appointment on Thursday at 1:00. Brian, Ian, and I are planning to meet them there Thursday and will stay through the weekend. The hospital will conduct a lengthy evaluation and decide what the next step should be. Please pray for Jerry's recovery and strength for the family to be able to support him and each other in the days ahead. Brian has been out of town this week and will return tomorrow. He also has a sister, Beverly, who will be coming down from Phoenix on Sunday. Luckily, we are in pretty good shape in our preparations for going to Thailand, so I am thankful I planned ahead as much as I have. Some things I can do while we're in Houston. We appreciate your prayers.


Friday, February 1, 2008

A Break From Painting

I thought I would take a little break from painting Olivia's room and write an update. We thought the new pictures were the cutest things! I think everyone is in agreement that there may be some drama in our future! We can't wait to meet this little bundle of personality! Although I think she looks big in the pictures, she only weighs about 18 lbs and is 31 inches at 19 months. Many of the kids are small, so we're expecting her to be little.

We've done some shopping the last week or so- bought her a couple of bathing suits, something to wear home on the plane, and a few toys for our first meeting, which is in a hotel meeting room. We're now at two weeks and 6 days, and the time has been going pretty quickly. I sewed 32 bows on her bedskirt the last two days and am going to attempt to put a wall hanging together after I finish painting. It seems like I can always find "one more thing" to do! Oh, we also booked our hotel at Hua Hin, which is a beach resort a few hours from Bangkok. We're looking forward to spending the weekend there.

It has been a lot of fun emailing and talking to the other two families that will be in Thailand with us. One is from Oregon and the other from Mississippi. It's also been fun keeping up with our neighbors who are supposed to be returning from China today with their little girl, Cathryn Grace. I told the mom I wouldn't come over until she invited me, but that I'd sure be looking out our front window about 6:00 this evening when they should be pulling in! What a coincidence we moved into a house across the street from them! Olivia will have a playmate right away! No one will understand what anyone else says, but it will be fun watching them learn to communicate with each other. . . and us!

Ian's 7th birthday is coming up on the 12th, and I'm almost positive I heard him sing the Birthday Song yesterday! He loves to sing, and although he doesn't talk, he uses some syllable/sound to sing the tune. It's very sweet, and we are very proud of any accomplishment. They are all a big deal to us! He has recently learned to kiss us good night and that is HUGE. It almost makes my cry writing it. Anyway, I'm including one of the pictures of him we took on Christmas Eve, when we had an unexpected hotel stay in Oklahoma. I can't wait for Ian and Olivia to get to swim together this summer. Ian loves it, so I hope Olivia does too.

I guess I better get back to the painting- or maybe I'll eat lunch first. That sounds like a better idea!


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

New Pictures!!!

Not much time to write now, but I wanted to add these pictures right quick. We just received them this afternoon. I couldn't decide which one I liked best, so I just added all three! Everything is going great. I'll try to write more later today.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Update On The Plans

Preparations are coming along, and all is going well so far. There are two other families with Holt who will be at the Thai adoption board meeting with us. It has been fun emailing them as they get ready too. Their travel approvals were a total surprise, and they are scrambling to get everything done by the time we leave. We, on the other hand, would have been surprised if we had NOT been called, so we're a little ahead of the game. However, that definitely doesn't mean we won't be scrambling the last week ourselves!

I booked our flights Sunday, and we are flying out of Shreveport at 6:55 am on Thursday the 21st. (My parents are coming a couple of days before to keep Ian.) We will meet Olivia for the first time Sunday morning, go to the board meeting on Wed, do some paperwork at the embassy on Thursday, and then have Friday through Sunday to travel or see more of Bangkok. I think all three families may try to go to the beach, which suits us since we have been to Bangkok before. We will leave to come home on March 5th. I have posted our flight itinerary (to the left) and will include a process schedule later. If you follow our trip, don't think we'll leave Dallas and be in Tokyo 4 hours later!!! I'll have to see how many hours ahead we'll be- should be around 13 or so.

For an update on Brian's dad, he was admitted into the hospital again yesterday. He finished his chemo in December, but began experiencing a lot of pain the week before Christmas. He was eventually diagnosed with shingles, but I'm not sure if everyone is convinced that is the correct diagnosis. Please pray the doctors can relieve is pain and find out exactly what is going on. He is a wonderful man, and I know he and Brian's mom want to come to Shreveport to help take care of Ian while we're gone and celebrate when Olivia comes home.

Also, I and another lady at church are coordinating the women's retreat again this year, so I am also working on that at the same time we are preparing for Olivia. It is a pretty involved project- overnight, out of town, catered meals, speaker from Nashville, etc. It's fun though, and I hated not to do it again. Booking the hotel and events center are the main things on my to-do list today.

I hope everyone has a great day!


Thursday, January 17, 2008

4 Weeks 6 Days. . .And Counting!!!

We finally got the call yesterday! The board in Thailand met Wed of LAST week, so I had just about given up for a travel approval call from our agency. I had even written in over the weekend to ask other waiting families if we could still get a call Mon or Tues, and they said "yes", but since it was already Wed I was getting discouraged. Then, about mid-day yesterday I saw where a family had just received their approval to travel. I was so happy for them but very disappointed and discouraged we hadn't been called. On the other hand, maybe there was still hope for us. Everywhere I went, that phone went with me! In addition, I was going to be preparing a meal last night for our neighbors who were leaving this morning to go get their daughter in China. I kept telling myself- "all in God's time" and trying to be patient. THEN about 4:45, with the phone within hand's reach of course, it rang and the caller ID said "Holt" (our agency)! Don't you know my heart skipped a beat. . .or two! Marissa said we had received first approval, which means travel approval, and that we would be attending the February 27th meeting in Thailand. I calmly said, "Thank you. We are so excited," but inside my heart was jumping!

Now, after sleeping on it, the excitement is no less. I'm getting ready to make some calls to inform our family and then on to flight and hotel reservations. Hopefully, the time will go quickly and Olivia will be home where she belongs! I know many families are frantic with so much to do, and although we do have plenty to do ourselves, we have already been preparing for quite some time. I told Brian the other night that I wanted to be able to go slowly and enjoy the preparations, not flying around in a dither the last few weeks. Hopefully, we'll be able to do that. Olivia's room is not too far from being ready, the highchair, carseat, and stroller have been purchased, and the to-do list has been made. Now, if I can just concentrate on the list!

Well, I've got to get busy (but not in a dither!) to find some good flights and get to work on those curtains! I'm happy to be able to share our good news with you, and I hope you enjoy reading about our progress as we count down the days!


Sunday, January 6, 2008

Where Does the Time Go?!

It's amazing how fast the time passes. I must remember that when I anxiously look at my calendar every day and count down the (predicted) number of days until we bring Olivia home! I say "predicted" because we continue to wait for an exact travel date. Hopefully, there will be news this week! Making preparations for her arrival has been fun and seems to help pass the time. Yesterday a friend helped me look for toddler beds, and Wednesday we will go to Jackson, MS to resubmit our fingerprints. Because Brian had some scheduled meetings in Bogalusa, LA, which isn't far from Jackson, we'll spend the rest of the week with him. As I may have mentioned in my last post, Ian loves staying in hotels and traveling, so he'll enjoy running around too- and we can check off another week closer!

As far as other news, Ian had an appointment with Shriners the other day and was fitted for new leg splints. We're looking forward to getting those next Monday and ordering a walker for him to use at school. He is able to use a cane and walk while holding someones hand, but tends to sit down often. The school, much to our disappointment, resorted to pushing him in a wheelchair to make it easier for them to get him to the classes in which he is mainstreamed. Hopefully, a walker with a seat will be recommended so that when he does sit down, he will still have to make some effort to get to his class- instead of just sitting back in a wheelchair while someone pushes him around. He's got it made right now!

Since Ian returns to school tomorrow, I've got to get busy on the women's church retreat. This is my second year to co-lead it, and since I'll be out of pocket for several weeks, I need to get the majority of the work done now. I've got a great partner to work with, and although she is very busy, she is a pleasure to work with.

A follow-up to the tire swing installation: All went well, and Ian LOVES it. He has fallen through the tire twice, but while he was still down he signaled "more" (by clapping his hands twice)! He's tough and I'm not sure there is anything that could dampen his enthusiasm for swinging!

Happy New Year!