Saturday, October 4, 2014

We're OK

It’s funny the things that get on my nerves. A patient doesn’t like the fit of her denture, a crown doesn’t fit for the second time,  the sink is clogged and I don’t have time to fix it. Like everyone else, I get caught up in the little day to day paper cuts of life. I lose sight of things that are truly important because it’s all really important in the moment. What made me think of this? Well, we’re all okay. I was scared to death; Avi was uninjured. But, the two of us were in a car accident yesterday and we’re both okay.

My little purple toenailed toadstool was happily riding in her car seat in the back. I wasn’t even texting, talking on the phone or facebooking. (3 things I’ve now sworn off for life while driving) We were just going along on the highway and the car in front of us slammed on it’s brakes. I don’t know why they did it. They disappeared after the accident and I don’t even know if they were aware of what happened. The gap between us closed faster than I could really react and I slammed on my brakes too late. I pulled the car hard to the right and managed to miss the front car’s bumper. Instead I plowed into the car in the right lane. We both ended up against the guardrail and a third car hit the two of us. By some miracle, or the cause and effect of Newtonian physics depending on your beliefs, when all was quiet again, there were no injuries.  

I checked on Avi first and she was more scared than anything else. The noise and the big bump we’re pretty jarring. Thankfully there had been no hard impact. No airbag deployment, no seatbelts locking. Had I hit that car dead on, had I hit the guardrail different, had the third car hit us differently,  I don’t think I’d be writing this now. I was more scared by what could have happened than by what actually did.

We all got out and were okay. The police came and made an accident report. My car was drivable once I put the spare on (though I think the frame is bent). The car I hit needed a tow. By the time we were on our way, Avi was pretty upset. Not over having been in the accident anymore. She was just tired of being in the car and had to use the restroom.  One of the officers cheered her up by talking with her and giving her a police sticker. That was a wonderful gesture and Avi focused on that thing until we got home.

When I called Ann later in the day, initially she was concerned with the things I would have been yesterday. The insurance rates going up, the payments for a new car, or the hassle of getting ours repaired. Then, I think it hit her in the way it hit me. Our daughter was not on life support in the ICU. Her husband was not dead. And a new car or increased payments is a minor inconvenience in comparison. In fact, I’m thrilled to have those problems in exchange for the alternative.

If you got to throw your problems on the table with everyone else you know. Chances are, after seeing all the problems on the table, you’d want your own back. I got the chance to have my own back. I will be fine with my difficult patients. I’ll make the time to fix that sink. I may not always love where I am or what’s happening. But today I love the opportunity to have those problems.

Perhaps your day’s been rough today. Perhaps it hasn’t. Like me, you’re going to have days in the future that are rough.  But if you’re going home and your healthy and have access to people who love you, you’re doing great.

Regardless of that _______ (fill in the blank)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Family Day

Looking at pictures of Korea together:

Me: Avi do you know who that is?

Avi: Umma. (foster mom’s name)

Me: Do you remember living with Umma?

Avi: Yes

Me: Did you like Umma?

Avi: Umma not home. Avi home now.

It really hit me hard when Avi said that, but that conversation sums up where we are now.   I didn’t know she remembered anything from Korea, let alone had feelings like that about her life. Independent thoughts, creativity, and sensitivity to what's going on around her. That kiddo never ceases to amaze me.

Today is our family day, our 1 year anniversary of coming home.  I thought about this exact blog post on that day. We were so crazy a year ago, it’s hard to believe I had the wherewithal to think about something as minor as this little life blurb. We were losing our independence and our sleep by gaining a beautiful daughter. Despite all our preparation, we had no idea what we were in for.  This particular post represented so much at the time.  I wondered what I’d be writing a year in. Were we going to be happy or regretful? Would Avi be progressing well or would we be one of the countless horror stories I’d read on the internet?  It was such a huge, tumultuous change, I really couldn’t have predicted what I’d be saying.  Honestly, I thought with as tough as things were going, could we possibly be in a good place? I wish I could have read this a year ago. It would have eased my worried mind.

I’m so happy to say things are going great. Avi is nowhere near the scared upset little girl we brought home. She’s having fun and smiles and laughs all the time.  She’s growing not only physically, but mentally by leaps and bounds. She loves stories and swimming. She enjoys walking her bike around and tormenting the cat. We love the way she makes us laugh. She's shared life lessons such as “penguins are stinky, like my butt.” After a day at the zoo, I’m glad that was the take home.

She is so outgoing and friendly to everyone she meets. (with the exception of the kid she clubbed last week) She finds so much enjoyment in everything we do together no matter how simple. Happiness is effortless for her and that makes her a joy to be around. 

When Avi came home from Korea, all of our worlds were turned upside down. It wasn’t a bad thing, but it sure was difficult.  Avi’s best friend now is Lucy, our neighbor's daughter. She’s almost a year younger. Now, two year old Lucy is Avi’s age when she arrived. It amazes me the quality and quantity of thought coming out of her mouth.  She comments on everything. I know all that was trapped inside Avi when she came home. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must have been for her to have all those thoughts and be unable to express them. It’s no wonder we had so many meltdowns.  But like all things, that passed with time.  All those thoughts have found their their way out. Now that the flood gates have opened, it's non-stop. 

With as tough as this year was, all I can say is hopefully next year will be as good as this one has been. If I had to do it again, would I? Yes. Without a doubt, it’s been the most rewarding, life changing thing Ann and I have ever done. Would I have done anything different? I don’t think so. We’re where we are now because of every choice we’ve made, both good and bad. And that place has turned out to be pretty good.

That good life presented itself this morning as I was leaving for work. I told Avi goodbye as I do every day. She came up to me, put her arms up and said “hug please”.  I knelt down and got a big hug with her head squeezed into the crook of my neck. After a long hug, she whispered in my ear,  “I love you daddy”.

Wouldn’t change a thing that brought us here.
Not a single thing

Alright, so maybe she's not always happy. 
Estes Park, home to the worlds fattest chipmunks. Avi
figured out the telescope in seconds. 
City Park and the paddle boats. Avi wasn't thrilled at first
but soon warmed up to being on a boat. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

I want to eat Panda Poofs with daddy!

Avi's English is getting better.  It's amazing how many new words she's learned. We're getting a lot more sentences. She's understanding more and more. She and I had a conversation about birds eating bugs. (YUCKY!) We love ladybugs and look for them every time we're outside. (usually by calling ladybug come here) We identify squirrels and she demonstrates how they eat whenever we ask about them. From rain to flowers, Korea to cookies, we actually talk about all kinds of things. In two year old speak of course, but she asks all kinds of questions. Her favorite is "what that?" And finally, she's given us her first grammatically correct complete sentence. Last week, she very seriously told us "I want to eat Panda Poofs with daddy." And with that, Panda Poofs were served for dinner.

She's still pretty delayed with regards to her speech. All her classmates are speaking a great deal more than she is. She thinks everyone she meets is named Avi. However, for only hearing English for the first time 8 months ago, she's doing better than I would.

We met with a speech therapist this past week. We're happy to say that though she's behind, everything else is on track. Better than that, she's officially very smart. The gave her the puzzles for a 3 and 3 1/2 year old and she finished them both. She was working on the 4 year old puzzle but she didn't quite get it. I'm more than happy to brag about that. They say she'll be up to speed in no time. Hooray!!

We had my brother and sister-in-law out last weekend. The grown-ups had a blast, but Avi was a bit of a pill. I think she had an audience to watch the performance. I can't believe they were here and we didn't take a single picture. I think we were having too much fun. Especially the part when Mike and I rented a chainsaw and made some folk art in the back yard. True story. The wives went inside because they didn't want to see the part where we each lost a limb. Made a nice bookshelf though.

We've also been working on potty training. We've switched from diapers to big girl underpants. It's funny how we've flip flopped from wanting tinker bell to hello kitty and back. It's kind of a psychotic back and forth but at least it's understood that we're not going back to diapers. And let's hear it for bribery! The dentists have a bowl of gummy worms next to the potty. Talk about motivated.  And tonight she learned you don't say "Back!". That's for talking to the dogs. You ask for "Privacy please." That's how you get to potty on your own. Maybe mom and I should start using that one.

We're still working on the bike. She's only got a few months to train for the Strider race this summer. Can you attach those things to a cyclops trainer? And is a Garmin on the Strider a good idea? I say yes to both and I can save money by not buying a cadence sensor right now. Genius I say. Now if we could just get her to sit on the thing without freaking out.

She's got this book figured out. Matching and colors, piece of cake. (even if every color is  "blue")

Avi took this photo. Gali is thrilled to participate.

Dancing with mommy. 

Woodworking in the back yard. That's the pre folk art log. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Snowballs and Sandals

This was the first time we ever met Avi.  I remember entering the room and seeing a little girl who was not our own.  She was not speaking Korean or English.  She was on a diet of milk and formula and sleeping with a bottle. She was most definitely  less than thrilled to see us.
Fast forward seven months and this dynamic, talkative little person is the best part of our day. When we pick her up from preschool she smiles and runs to give us a big hug. She eats almost everything (except veggies and cherry pie) and she's now decided posing for her monthly photos is crucial. She's come a long way, and she is our daughter. 

Our week has been a combination of different seasons. On Wednesday we were sledding. 

Biggest revelation so far, snow is edible. 

By Saturday, the snow was gone.  We got to hang around outside and make screen doors for the house. 

Avi hung out with her friend Lucy from down the street. 

Avi's favorite cartoon is Pororo.  We ordered this little guy from Seoul and they were instantly good friends. Pororo is the Mickey Mouse of Korea.  If you look up his cartoons on youtube, you learn about everything from being nice to your friends to intellectual property rights. I'm not sure why he's so popular. 

He's considered the kid's president. If mom and dad tell you to do something, nobody listens. If Pororo says to do it, it get's done. 

Avi, Pororo say brush your teeth. DONE! Avi, Pororo say don't hit the dog. DONE! We all love that little character. 

And, should Avi or I ever have any questions on patent infringement, he's a good resource. 

Avi and I took our first long bike ride. We ended up at a great park and she learned how to yell "ON YOUR LEFT" when passing other bikers and runners. After an hour in that thing, she was still singing to herself and laughing.  She even had her own book to read. Now if only we could figure out that strider bike.

This little person has come so far. She's potty training now and has made it full days with a dry diaper and requesting the potty. She's getting to be such a big girl. Her first months were more difficult than we expected. There's no way I'd want to go back there. Even now there are times we get exhausted. But it's the exasperation any two year old will gladly provide. Much more common are the time she makes us laugh and smile.

My favorite experience of the month happened just this week. The best things are unscripted and spontaneous. They tend to jump up at you when you least expect them.  Avi says new words every day and surprises us with the things she knows. As I was getting ready to leave for work, Avi was being very huggy.  Most days we get a hug or a kiss goodbye and off I go. This day, as I was leaving we all stood in a little group of three for a "huddle". We both hold Avi and do a 3 way hug.  And as I squeezed my arms around both Ann and Avi, Avi pulled back and paused.  She smiled big,  looked at both of us, and said a word we'd never heard her say before.  Then she buried herself into another big hug.


I was late for work that day.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

More Oreos Please!

C'mon Manning. I've been saying GO BRONCOS since I got here. CRAP!! CRAP!! CRAP!!
Ahh. Broncos loss aside, Avi has been doing really great this month. So have we :)

English has started taking root in Avi's brain. She repeats everything. Everything! So we now have to be careful what we say. (How cute was saying CRAP 15 times last week). It's amazing how a child's brain can rewire itself for language. I don't think I'd be nearly so comfortable after 6 months in a new country. (especially if I had been taken there against my will). The first month was so was tough without any way to communicate. Other than tone, we had no way of getting any message through to her, and she had no way of telling us what she wanted. My how that has changed. We get requests for milk and water, cookies and potty. We ask if she likes things. We even work on making better choices in order to avoid time out. I do find myself jealous of the other kids at preschool. We're not at the point where I can come up to her and she'll tell me "I made an airplane" like her classmate did last week. But vocabulary has increased and with that, short phrases have started emerging.

The best phrase so far happened when she walked in to the side of our kitchen sofa. She hit her head, backed up rubbing it and said "Wake Up Avi!". The went about her business. We've been trying to get her to ask for things by name. Pineapple was a tough one for her, as was eggplant. But we found out that some words, when properly motivated, can't be stopped. After 6 months here, she was introduced to the holy grail of American cuisine. It's funny, we didn't ask her to say "More Oreos please." But it seems that one came out on its own. Again and again and again. Perhaps she was saying "6 months here and we're just now learning about these things. We could have been eating this the whole time. What's wrong with you people?!" but she seemed placated when we taught her how to lick the center out of her two cookies.

We've used the new found language skills to start potty training this month. That's going as well as it should. But the big news is revolving around sleep. Last month the decision was made to get tough with Avi at night. "Tough" is a relative term. We spent about a week where every time she would cry one of us would get up, go in her room and escort her back to bed. We weren't angry or soothing. In fact we didn't say anything. Just walked her back to bed, tucked her in and walked back out. We had nights that we did this 10-20 times. The idea was to make it so nothing interesting happened when you get up at night. After a relatively rough week, it all stopped. Without a word, she stayed in bed, didn't cry, didn't get up. Now she says goodnight, we hang out for about 10 minutes and she's good. I honestly feel like I'm getting my life back. I can't believe how rough the last 6 months were sleep wise. I don't think I really recognized how much it affected us. At it's worst, I created a d-bag cup at work. Every time I would come in unnecessarily grumpy, I would have to empty my wallet into the cup. Luckily I only needed it once and it cost me $7 total. My mood is improved, my days are easier. I'm still not 100%, but I think both Ann and I are doing much better.

Sure go ahead and sleep. I'll figure out something else soon.
 Swimming is awesome and we've found some kid pools around town and Avi has been loving them! I've actually been having a lot of fun too. Wednesday is my day off so we went to an indoor water park yesterday. It was a blast. The small slide was just too lame for her. She dragged me up the stairs to go on the huge water slide. I wish I had a way to record that because she giggled down the whole thing and yelled "again" every time we did it. We met our friend Freddy there and had a lot of fun! Afterwards we met Kiki and had lunch at Qdoba. Avi was very charming as always. It's wonderful how well she accepts new people. She held Kiki's hand out to the car and gave them both hugs when it was time to go.

Today she's decided that coats are stupid and we don't need to use them. She was so mad at Ann that she wouldn't even say goodbye when she was dropped off at school. You'd think -8 degrees would make her reconsider.

Seollal is Korean New Year. We went out to have Korean food. She's lost a bit of her taste for it so we've got to make sure we're working on keeping those foods incorporated back in to her diet.

I'm getting to be a very opinionated big girl now.

But I still make everyone smile daily.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Christmas at the Macri's

37 years ago my dad took this picture with his newborn son Mike and a mere...

HOLY CRAP WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?  That's just wrong. Okay we started the last blog page kind of sappy. Maybe it's time for a different tone.

Now before we get to Christmas, December 19th was my birthday. And because this is all about me, I get to tell you about the best birthday gift I've ever received. On the day I turned 39, we officially adopted our daughter.

On my 39th birthday, JeongMee Oh became officially know as Avianna JeongMee Macri. There was very little pomp or celebration. In fact, the celebration lunch was a Carl's Jr. kids meal. (Avi's first fast food) I think we already feel like a family. This just made the paperwork official. On a side note, it was the judge's last day and he chose to do adoptions because that was his favorite thing. He ended his career with us, we began our family with him.

Christmas was spent doing lots of fun activities together. We decorated cookies. Avi was an expert cookie decorator. In fact, her new favorite word (aside from no) is now cookie.
Avi's cookie creation.

Avi's job, make cookies. Dad's job, eat cookies. 
We had a great time thanks to Ann's cookie recipe
and the group's creativity. 
  We really didn't get Avi very many gifts. In fact, there were only a couple of things we bought. What we didn't expect were so many wonderful gifts from friends and family. They filled the area under the tree. It was so nice to have so many people care enough to be part of Avi's Christmas.

With this Christmas, Avi is beginning her cycling career. 
Mike and I wrapped Christmas gifts.
And I'm pretty sure there's no way she could have guessed what we got her. 

She has a love/hate relationship with her bike right now.
She hasn't quite figured out balance yet. 

We had my mom and dad out as well as my brother and sister in law. Grandpa and grandpa were lots of fun and I'm so glad they got to see Avi's first Christmas. It's a fun dynamic to have family around. It's great that Avi has gotten to know them all. She not only knows the words grandma, grandpa, uncle Mike and Aunt Kate. She knows who these people are and she likes all of them.
Having Avi around brings out the child in all of us. 
Even Avi got into the act.

And after everyone left and we we took Avi to see the 
lights at the Botanic gardens with Amy, Judd and Juliana. 

Month 5 home is beginning now. Avi is talking a lot more, sleeping a lot more, and firmly engrained in all our hearts. It's funny how much love this little person has brought with her.
We've had 5 nights of good sleep. I don't know if it's official yet, but I think we may be getting into the land of good sleep. Hopefully that will continue. Life is getting easier each week and changing every day.
I'd say we're finally settling in to being a family.