Tuesday, March 31, 2009


So, my presentation for the International Fair is on Thursday. I am looking for ideas. Here's what I have so far:
  • coffee beans (American and Ethiopian, seriously- they look different!) and the legend of how coffee was discovered
  • Pictures of various places in Ethiopia
  • Pictures of native Ethiopians in traditional (and non-traditional) garb
  • Pictures of coffee ceremony and a little explanation of roasting the beans, popcorn, etc.
  • A few words/phrases in Amharic
  • CD of Ethiopian music playing
  • A few Ethiopian story books
  • Some banana-leaf artwork to be displayed
  • Some jewelry to be displayed
  • The girls and I will be wearing traditional Ethiopian garb
  • Pictures of injera and other foods
  • Map of Africa with Ethiopia marked on it
  • Drum, baskets, "Desta" doll and other handcrafts
  • Berbere in a bowl (to smell- and taste- if you dare!)

So, what else can I do to make this fun and informative? And yes, it has to be something easily accessible! This will be a presentation to kids (young elementary) and their families, so the age-range will be wide. Any little games we can play? Help me out!

Almost 2 and writing a letter...

Anna will be 2 in a little over a week. I cannot believe that she has been home a full 6 months!

I have compiled a photo album for her birthmom and will be including a few pieces of artwork Anna has created as well as a letter from me (and one from Abigail) in the package I send.

I am kind of at a standstill in writing this letter; it is just so difficult to know what I should- or shouldn't- include. I mean, the photos speak for themselves. Anna is smiling, growing, well-loved. But if I was her birthmom, separated by thousands of miles and cultural differences, what would I want to know?

Sure, I would want to know that Anna is growing, and what she is doing developmentally. But what I would really want is to know if she is truly happy. How do I express that to a woman whose cultural differences may mean that happiness is much different than what I think it is?

And then there are the little things... do I call her "Anna" or "Misrak"? Do I mention that Anna will soon have a daddy? Do I talk about moving, and swimming lessons, and the scores of dogs that Anna chases after each times she sees them?

I don't know. I really want to reassure her birthmother's heart- a heart that is still so full of love for Anna. But how do I do that?

What do you think?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Feeling Strongly

This is something I feel strongly about.

If Obama rescinds the Conscience Clause, this will affect all health care providers who care for patients at any stage of life... from pre-birth to end-of-life. This means that issues like withdrawal of care at end-of-life will become something that the individual RN or MD cannot consciously object to doing.

This is not just about abortion, it is about the right to uphold my personal ethics while still providing my patients with good care.

Please consider signing the petition or leave your feedback for the administration here.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

House of Love

I told you before that John asked me to marry him on the side of a house... a gingerbread house. Here is a look at the fantastic artwork he created:

And here is how it looked when he asked...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Internet Poll: Kiss On Demand

John is looking forward to our wedding reception; what other time can he fully expect to get a kiss every time he- or someone else- wants us to kiss? (Believe me, I have been known to give him the cheek more than once:)

Of course, I am talking about the "kiss on demand" system that is common at weddings. Traditionally, guests would clink their knife against their wine glass and the bride and groom would kiss. But there have been other takes on the tradition, of course. Some people choose to avoid the glass-clinking (and potential for broken glasses!) and supply guests with small bells, clapper, whistles, or other noise-makers to signal their desire to witness a kiss. Sometimes the couple takes a "clap-o-meter" approach- the guests work together to create enough noise to be rewarded with a kiss.

Still others (Moriah!) have demanded a more active participation from guests in order to get the couple to kiss. For instance, when guests want the couple to kiss, they must first "demonstrate" their favorite kiss... from a low-to-the-ground dip and kiss, to a hands-on-the-buns grab and kiss. Or perhaps the guests must "entertain" the couple with a poem, song, joke, or compliment in order for the couple to kiss.

The whole "kiss on demand" system is kind of funny. I tend to be one of those people who waits until a very inopportune time to start clinking on my glass. For instance, if I see the bride or groom heading towards the restroom, or if they have just put a big bite of food in their mouth. I am the annoying guest in that way. I also tend to start clinking my glass whenever there seems to be a lull in the action... nothing like a big wet one to get things stirred up!

Anyway, what say you?

We've Registered!

John and I registered last month at Bed, Bath, and Beyond... what an ordeal! Surprisingly, we mostly agreed on everything right away (or, John just didn't care and deferred to me.) Deciding on things was the easy part. Walking around the store and seeing just how much "stuff" there is was overwhelming! Plus, we thought this would be a "quick trip" so we took the girls with us. 3.5 hours later, as we were leaving, the girls were practically in puddles and we were exhausted.

We decided to register at Kohl's as well.... and did that 100% online:) That was a much easier process. I do love the Internet!

You can view our BBB registry by entering our names here and the Kohl's registry here. You will need to know the first and last name of one of us, which, for safety reasons, I am not posting here. But our wedding is on 9/25/09 so you should be able to go from there:)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cameron Estate Inn

Both our ceremony and our reception will be held at the historic Cameron Estate Inn in Mount Joy, PA. The Inn was built in

We have reserved the Inn for the evening of the wedding. If you are interested in staying at the Inn, please call them at 888-4-CAMERON. Online reservations are not available because we have reserved the entire Inn. You will need to mention that you are attending our wedding to be able to book a room.

Lancaster County is famous for it's hospitality. If you are looking for other accommodations in the area, be sure to check out the local Bed & Breakfasts! A list of Lancaster County Inns and B&Bs is available by clicking here or here.

Help Needed: Passport "Stamp"

This is a fun one!

I am hosting the "Ethiopia" booth at the elementary school's "International Fair." I will be displaying all sorts of stuff from Ethiopia, playing Ethiopian music, wearing the traditional garb I brought back with me, teaching a few Amharic words, etc. The kids get to go around to the different country booths and get their "passport" stamped as they learn about the different countries and cultures.

I need to have some sort of "stamp" to use in their passports. It could be a rubber/ink stamp or a sticker. It should be the shape of Ethiopia or something else that is representative of Ethiopia.

Any ideas?

(Also, feel free to share any ideas that will make my booth better!)

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Anna Talking


Today the girls will go with Elaine and I as I try on my wedding dress. I am a wee bit nervous.
Last night I had all sorts of crazy dreams... The dressing room walls were only up to my waist, I forgot the slip and shoes I am supposed to wear with my dress, I spilled iced tea on it once I had it on. Oh, and of course, it didn't fit. Then there was a fee to have them undo my dress so that I could take it off. It was not the most restful night I've ever had.
I won't be posting pictures on the blog or facebook of my wedding dress, primarily because I respect John's wishes to avoid seeing my dress... and because I love the idea of surprising you! But rest assured, my dress is not inspired by Hitchcock.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


John was studying as I worked on homework this afternoon. Before too long I began to hear the heaviness of his breathing become deeper and slower. It wasn't long after that until his snores were echoing off the walls.

After dinner, I took a rest on the couch, gearing up to clean up the kitchen, give baths, and get ready for another school day.

John: Why are you so tired?

Me: Well, I was actually working that whole time that you were sleeping.

John: I wasn't sleeping! I was studying with my eyes closed!

Me: Is that what the kids are calling snoring these days?

I love John, but I do not love his snoring!

Thoughts on That List

There are times when I worry I have created a monster.

No, not my human children, but my Internet love child. That little list.

Even though I am no longer in the process, that list has a hold on me. I smile widely each time I get an email of a new family to be added to the paperchase or wait list page. I go nuts when the boards lite up with news of referrals... what day, how old, what gender, and who might have pictures of your little one for you? When I get confirmation that someone is moving from the referral/court process page to the forever family page, my heart jumps. I am so happy to be the recorder of these life-shaping events. On the one hand, I am so proud of that list because it has such potential to create and spread joy.

But on the other hand, it also has potential to create sorrows. I look at that list, study it daily, and sometimes question if I have done the right thing. When I see families waiting- when I send check-in emails to see if I missed the news of their referral... when they wait for months and months to see their child's face, I am so sad for them. I know that wait- that longing. I know that it will ease, but never completely disappear, even once they are holding their child in their arms. I know that they will carry that desire- that yearning- for every child who is waiting to come home to their forever family, and that yearning will stay with them.

The worst is the referral/court process page. Long waits for court dates. Failures to pass. Months of watching your child grow up- of missing them, of wanting them, of loving them while they know so little of you and have no idea how deeply they are loved. I cannot imagine that pain. And to look at that list and think about those families who are waiting on a mere slip of paper... to know that it is just some tree pulp and ink that is separating them from their child... there aren't words for that. To know that this list is spreading the news of that heartache does make me question if this list is the right thing to do.

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your journey by being the scribe of the steps in your process. I am honored and humbled. And I hope and pray for each family on that list that your children will soon be in your arms.

Internet Poll: Shoes

I am going to try on my wedding dress on Saturday. Yea! It came much earlier than I expected, and I can't wait to see how it looks with my jewelry and all the right underlayment and such.

One thing I don't have yet are the shoes I will wear.

I've been thinking an awful lot about my wedding and what it means to me. I've seen a lot of brides on the various message boards who seem to think that the wedding is the most important thing of their lives and that every detail must be just so in order for them to have meaning and worth. They become selfish and self-obsessed, even to the point of destroying relationships with family and friends because "I want what I want and I want it now!" They are the definition of "bridezilla," and they are slowly destroying their own happiness.

I am thankfu that I have had enough experiences in life to know that this wedding is a just a day... a special day, yes, but in the grand scheme of things, it's just a day. My marriage, our little family, our extended families, our friends- they are so much more important than this day. And certainly, the money we spend on this day will probably not have a lot of "return;" there are so many more important things to spend money on than this one day.

With that in mind, we have been making some choices that are not popular on the bridal circuit. But they are choices that leave us with peace in our hearts and minds. They reinforce the values and goals that we share as a couple.

How does this relate to wedding shoes? It's coming, I promise.

Many years ago when I though I would be planning a different wedding to a different man, I bought a pair of wedding shoes. From Payless, on sale for $8.99. I bought them because they were cute, comfortable, and I knew I would wear them again. And when that relationship did not work out, I did wear those shoes. I still wear those shoes. I love those shoes.

So when I thought about my wedding shoes, I knew a few things: they needed to be cute; they needed to be comfortable; they needed to be inexpensive. I was planning on picking up something like a ballet flat from Payless or Target- something that I could wear all day and not need to go soak my feet after. Something I would wear again.

Until a few days ago when my patient's son was sporting a pair of Toms at the hospital.

That's when I decided that maybe, in some small way, my wedding shoes might be a way to send a message about who I am and what we, as a couple, are all about. Not a message about fashion or style (they are fleeting, and to me, fairly unimportant) but a message about our values. Kind of putting my money where my mouth is, so to speak (I feel like there should be some sort of pun about putting my foot in my mouth here, but it's late, I'm tired, and I am not going to stretch it...)

Which leads me to 3 shoe options from Toms:

1. Natural Canvas. Basic shoe, basic color. Easy to wear with anything! My colors are ivory, champagne, and victorian lilac, and my guess is this will fall somewhere between the ivory/champagne color. I'd wear these again, for sure!2. Khaki - I like these because they are a bit darker and more like the champagne color we have chosen. Also, being darker, I am more likely to wear them more for non-wedding events. I love brown shoes and wear the same 3 pairs of brown shoes almost every day that I am not at work (unless I am wearing black shoes.)

3. Glitter- A bit more wedding-ish! I love the gold glittery-ness of these shoes! I am not sure how often I would wear them, but I might buy new clothes just to have something to wear them with. Or I might become one of those people who goes out in jeans, a sweatshirt, and glittery shoes. Because these are that cute!

4. Blue Polka Dots- Something blue! These are a-dorable! I love that they would be fun and unexpected while also achieving my "something blue" for good luck. Plus, I love polka dots. Never wear them, don't even own a polka-dotted item, but love 'em!
What do you think?

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Glimpes of February

John and I went here...

And here...

and thought of Africa.

Anna showed off her Ethiopian herritage.

Abigail proved she is a lady.

Sisters are great.

Casts are not great.

Abigail is a trooper!

PP #2

Last Saturday we had our second post-placement visit. I cannot believe we have been home nearly 6 months! Anna is such a different child... and so much has changed.

The visit went well. I didn't clean nearly as much as I did last time, so that helped take the stress off a bit. On the other hand, my older daughter looked like someone had beat her up (full story here)... I wasn't quite sure what kind of impression that made!

(BTW- I am so glad her injury happened at school and is documented as happening at school! Totally relieves any concerns of "are you abusing your kid?")

For a little update, here is Anna's big developmental milestones:

Age: almost 23 months

Speaks these words: Momma, Daddy, John, Abi, Sissy, Anna, Lily, GaGa, PePaw, Teta, MiMi, yes, no, mine, uh-uh. uh-oh, out, off, on, up, down, more, milk, cup, eat, go, coat, cheese, shoes, poop, pee, potty, animal sounds (moo, baaa, tweet, etc), please, thank you, Jesus, night-night, sleep, doggie, kitty, Ty, stop it, yay!, funny. Her receptive language is phenomenal and she can understand everything (we may have to start spelling around her soon!)

Anna runs, jumps with both feet off the ground, climbs up stairs (would climb down, if I let her!), climbs up pretty much everything and is basically on the go all the time. She likes to throw things and can roll a ball back and forth. She can feed herself using a spoon/fork but is not yet ready to drink out of an open cup. She can scribble on paper and fingerpaint. She sleeps 10-11 hours at night and naps about 2 hours in the afternoon. She eats everything but loves carbs and cheese the best!

Anna understands relationships between objects and their shape/size (puzzles, hide-and-seek). She can point to all of her body parts. She has had a few successes on the potty- some where she "held it" until she was on the potty while others were just fortunate circumstances. She can follow 2 and 3 step commands (go into your room and get a pair of shoes.) She enjoys reading books, playing with water in the bathtub, and any/all physical activities. She understands rules and consequences and is responsive to time-outs. She is working on learning colors, shapes, letters, and manners.

Anna is well-liked in her preschool class, but she isn't as interested in the other kids as they are in her. She knows Momma, Daddy/John, Sissy/Abigail and understands that they are the special people in her life. She looks to them for her comfort and approval. She also has favorite teachers and does not cry anymore when she is dropped off/picked up at preschool. She is wary of strangers.

Anna has a strong personality. She is very happy-go-lucky most of the time and is easily redirected. However, she can be very strong-willed and will engage in battles of will. She is becoming very independent. She loves shoes more than almost anything else but also loves animals and will follow the cat all around the house. She admires and emulates her big sister. She laughs a lot and has a very infectious laugh. She has a great sense of humor and is developing some subtleties in her humor that are uncommon at her age. She is not scared of much, but the vacuum remains intimidating.

I love my girl!

Concussion and a Cast: A Tale of Abigail's Recess Injury

I was giving report to the on-coming shift last Friday at about 3pm when I got a call paged overhead. I picked up and it was the school nurse calling to let me know that Abigail had taken a fall at recess; she had split her lip and banged up her face quite a bit, as well as skinned her right palm and knees. She was okay, but had found the whole experience to be fairly traumatic. Could I pick her up from school rather than send her home on the bus since her lip was swollen and she was pretty shaken up. Okay, no problem. I headed over after leaving work.

When I saw Abigail, she was pretty swollen and bruised on her lip, but she seemed okay. I had already picked Anna up from daycare on the way to get Abigail, so we took things easy and headed home. We made plans to have dinner out with John when he got done with work. We ran a few errands. I noticed that Abigail was really favoring her right arm... she was having difficulty buckling her seat belt, opening doors, zipping her coat, etc. She didn't want to use her right arm at all. She denied pain, but something was not right...

When John came over, he examined her and decided that she did have an excessive amount of tenderness to her right arm; from what we could tell, she had face-planted during her fall, but tried to catch herself with her right arm. Concerned, we took her to the local "walk-in clinic" where she could be examined and have an x-ray while avoiding the ER. We anticipated that the wait would be long since there were several people ahead of us, so John and Anna took off to pick up some dinner. Abigail was pretty wiped out, so she laid down to take a rest while we waited, and I worked on a paper for school.

John came back with dinner, we ate, and we remarked on how lethargic and emotional/weepy Abigail was getting. It was then that we started worrying that she may have hit her head when she fell. We questioned her some more about how exactly she fell (apparently none of the recess aides witnessed the fall) and we just kept getting "I tripped and fell and then my lip was bleeding!" Could she have hit her head and even lost consciousness for a few seconds? Hard to say.

This is where it gets fun....

So, we finally go back into the exam room. Abigail is running a low fever when they take her vital signs, and her heart rate is fast. She is so lethargic she has a hard time walking to the exam room. (BTW- she weighs 65 lbs.) The NP comes in to do the exam. Quick flashlight to the eyes, quick squeeze of the arm, quick look in the mouth. She decides that Abigail's throat looks red, so they do a rapid strep test which comes back positive. A few minutes later we are leaving... with a script for antibiotics, but no x-ray and no instructions for what to monitor in case of concussion! Needless to say, since Abigail never once complained of a sore throat and was eating and drinking without difficulty, we decided she was probably a carrier (as I am sure we all are in my family) and did not give her the antibiotics.

Saturday comes around and we have our second post-placement visit in the morning. It goes well but leaves me exhausted. We spend the rest of the morning being lazy then decide to get out of the house. We head to the mall and stroll through a few stores. We go to the indoor kids playplace. Abigail still won't use her right arm, even when she is running around and playing with the other kids. It also looks more swollen. We decide to head back to the clinic and demand an x-ray.

The clinic's hours are noon-8pm. We arrive at 6pm and are told that they have "met their quota" and will not see any more patients for the day. I got a bit Momma Bear on them. They agree to see us:)

We get the x-ray and head back to the exam room to await the results. The x-ray is read by the radiologist in the hospital who calls over to ask if Abigail had a previous injury to that arm, which she has not. We are told that they can't identify a break, but if she continues to have pain, we should have another x-ray in 3 days. Right.

We go home and put the kids to bed. I am working on my paper and John is doing homework as well. At 10:30pm I get a call from the hospital. Unusual. It was the radiologist; they had reviewed the x-ray and Abigail did indeed have a buckle fracture and needed to come into the ER immediately to have a splint placed until she could be seen by the pediatric ortho doc on Monday for a cast. Nice. Thankfully, John was able to take Abigail over to the ER while I stayed home with the sleeping Anna. Abigail was a champ and didn't complain at all, according to John. She was pretty excited to hear that she could get a hot pink cast on Monday:)

All's well that ends well, right? Maybe. But this wasn't the end.

Sunday morning. It was a late night for everyone (Abigail and John didn't get back from the ER until after midnight.) Everyone except Anna, that is:) I cuddle the girls and try to get them to sleep in with me as long as possible. We move slowly out of the bed.

Abigail has a few intermittent episodes of forceful vomiting. I make her sit on the couch with a puke bucket because she has no warning when she is going to puke. Her stomach doesn't hurt and she doesn't have any nausea... John is consulted. Meantime, Abigail is having difficulty following directions and is just not herself. Off to the ER we go- too many signs of a concussion or other brain injury to ignore!

While in the waiting room, her pupils are dilated and she starts having blurred/double vision. We finally get a CT of her head. It is negative for any bleed, thank God, but she does have a concussion. Good times.

Abigail will have the cast for 5 weeks at which time they will re-check the x-ray and decide if she is okay. She is also off gym/recess since she is at risk for falling again and since she really can't afford to fall when she already has a concussion! She had some ongoing symptoms of concussion on Monday and Tuesday, but mostly her symptoms have all resolved now. She continues to deny any pain in her right arm.

So, to highlight a few of my favorite moments:

1. Our first visit to the clinic was for arm pain and increasing lethargy following a traumatic fall. We left with a diagnosis of strep throat. Someone doesn't know what they are doing.

2. We had 2 ER visits in less than 24 hours with a $75 co-pay each time, and 2 clinic visits in less than 24 hours with a wait time of 2-3 hours each visit. If we would have just gone to the ER on Friday night, our total wait time to get the x-ray, splint, and CT would have been a lot less (and a lot less expensive) than the 2 clinic visits + 2 ER visits. Lesson learned: sometimes it's better to go straight to the ER, especially if your situation will require a specialist. The walk-in clinic is good if you have a sore throat and are concerned for strep.

3. Apparently I do a good Momma Bear.
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