- We think that wheelchair ramps make awesome bike ramps.
- We can be overheard saying things like, “If you want to help me cook, you need to wash your feet.”
- We make rules like ‘no slinkys on the wheelchair’s joystick.’
- You can hear a little girl say, “good night, pink wheelchair” at bedtime.
- We’ve been engaged in The Great Shred of 2013. Even though we have 2 finalized adoptions, we had piles upon piles of forms, form instructions, and even the envelope that the form’s receipt confirmation arrived in. It was time to let them go; the shredder has been running non-stop.
- We’re cheering on Rep. Tammy Duckworth. You can, and should, see her in this video.
Friday, November 15, 2013
Monday, November 11, 2013
For as long as I can remember, my family packed shoeboxes at Christmas. It’s a tradition that carried over once I became an adult. It’s also a tradition that has come full circle. We learned that, in the past, some of the older children at Ying’s orphanage have been the recipient of Operation Christmas Child. Nothing will make you pack a shoebox faster, and with more love, than knowing that.
So as a family, we packed shoe boxes this year. Little hands and little feet filled plastic baggies with leftover Halloween candy. (Certain persons were initially more reluctant than others but were soon filling their baggie to the brim). We went to the store and asked our kids to pick out socks and puzzles. Some little girl will be the recipient of Ying’s love for pink.
This is such a small thing. But it means something. It does.
When we were in the Hmong village last year, we took gifts. Several of the gifts came off a suggested list. Things like a small winter coat, hygiene products, etc… We also took a few fun gifts. Things like bubbles and a travel size Hungry, Hungry Hippo. Do you know what gift was exclaimed over the most? School supplies. Pens, pencils and erasers were remarked on by the adults, interpreter and children alike. That’s stuck with me.
Most of us don’t think of a yellow #2 as a gift. I’m not sure what I would do if I found it in my stocking, much less my kids. Yet for children in a school house with no electricity, it was a wonderful present.
Find some pencils. Bag up some candy, stickers and toothpaste (more ideas and details on filling a box here).
Love can’t be contained, but Christmas can fill a box.
PS – The shoeboxes are now hightech. When you donate online (suggested donation is $7/box), you will get a printable barcode that you put on your box. Once your shoebox is delivered, you’ll get an email telling you it’s destination.) In years past, we’ve gotten these emails. I love knowing where our shoebox has gone.
Monday, November 4, 2013
Luk Chaai is a boy’s boy. He wiggles and squirms and worms. He’s loveable and loud. In spite of our best efforts, numerous times a day he’s asked to be still, stand still, or sit still.
I don’t want that to be our legacy for him, that we tried to change who he is. But some days … dude.
So when we find something that celebrates who he is and what he likes to do, well, we’re on it.
Our pumpkin was already ooey and gooey by this weekend, so we let Luk Chaai climb a ladder and plop Mr. Jack-o-lantern on down. He thought it was great. The pumpkin turned into water balloons and a two wet, messy kids, but nonetheless it was fun.
Here are a few more ideas for a guy or gal who needs to just be:
Friday, November 1, 2013
November is National Adoption Month. That means there will be a lot of adoption “speak” buzzing about. It will be common to hear things like: orphans, being called to adopt, Gotcha Day and the least of these.
We don’t use a lot of adoption “talk” at our house. There is nothing necessarily wrong with the lingo I mentioned above. But I think it can be overused, misused, and in our personal circumstances, not completely honoring of my children or their circumstances.
That being said, adoption does get talked about a lot in our house.
We talk about the children who wait, about our children’s lives before they came home to us. We pray for foster mothers, for nannies at the orphanage and for their birth families.
It’s a topic I hope that I’m completely comfortable with, that my children are completely comfortable with.
But I get that not everyone is comfortable talking about adoption or even asking questions about adoption. So I’m going to do it for you, ask the questions and give the answers.
Let’s get started.
1. How long did you wait for your children? We waited 29 months for Luk Chaai - from the day we mailed our application until the day we met him. Ying was a waiting child, so the wait was a little different. We waited 18 months - from the date of application until the day we met her.
2. Do you receive any kind of state or federal assistance? No. That being said, Ying does get therapy through a state-funded agency. She started getting PT through our private insurance, but we subsequently switched. Private physical therapy was expensive and very limited. The insurance company only approved roughly 18 sessions initially. As you can imagine, we needed a lot more than 18 sessions! Ying was eligible for therapy through the state because of her adoption and the extent of her needs.
All the DME (wheelchair, ramp, etc…) has been purchased through our private insurance. We independently purchased the wheelchair-equipped van.
3. How long will Ying receive physical and occupational therapy? As long as she needs it. Initially, she was getting PT and OT, each, twice a week, for half an hour each. She is now receiving OT 1x a week and PT 2x a week.
4. Is adoption expensive? Yes. There are many, many articles and posts that deal with paying for adoption, grants, etc… For us, we found most helpful sites like: moneysavingmom.com and chieffamilyofficer.com.
5. What birth parent information did you receive? All the information that was provided to the agency was passed on to us. We are grateful for every shard of it. As is common in international adoption, the medical information was limited.
Here’s a related post on children of our own.
Do you have more adoption-related questions? Stefanie from Ni Hao Ya’ll is also answering questions here (which inspired this post).
Monday, October 28, 2013
Nothing says fall like these Pumpkin Oatmeal Scotchies. Buy 2 bags of butterscotch chips. You’ll need them. This is a recipe you’ll make again and again. This recipe for Pumpkin Pie Dip has also been a winner. And it’s slightly healthier because apples dip nicely in it. Although graham crackers do too. Lastly, we love mini bananas. They’re perfect for snacks and school lunches.
I’m only partway through The Whole-Brain Child by Siegel and Bryson, but I wish I’d read it sooner. One really good take away is to explain to children that emotions are like clouds. They aren’t permanent. They roll by.
Luk Chaai’s teacher recently asked me about our snake. Our snake? The closest we have to a snake is a now-deceased caterpillar that got taken to Share Day in a pickle jar. So when I can across the suggestion to play 2 truths and 1 make believe with yours kids in The Whole-Brain Child, I knew this was a game for us. It’s actually been a lot of fun. We pared it down to one truth and one make believe though to make it slightly easier.
Here’s an example of how I played it with Luk Chaai: I once had a banana cut out of my mouth with a samurai sword or I’ve eaten alligator. (Just ask my summer camp roomie who volunteered me for an “activity”, which one is true.)
Happy eating. Happy reading.
Saturday, October 26, 2013
Someone wanted to be Cinderella for Halloween. And if she was going to be Cinderella, then she needed a crown AND a carriage.
The crown was easy.
The carriage was a bit trickier.
I checked Pinterest and came up with a plan based on the wheelchair this mom had made.
Once I started assembling ours though, we had a problem. If I built the carriage around the seat or enclosed the carriage at all, Ying couldn’t see to drive. Party foul and a moving violation!
So, I revamped my plans a bit and sent out an SOS text to my neighbor who came over to assist.
Here’s the final result (minus Cinderella in costume):
In case the Cinderella in your life needs a carriage, this is how we did it. I wrapped white crepe paper around two hula hoops. Then I wrapped tulle around the first hula hoop. I pulled the tulle through the center of the hoop and tied it into a pouf with a rubber band. I wrapped the tulle taut around the handle bar and then pulled the tulle through the second hula hoop. Then we zip tied the hula hoops to the chair and handle bar in four different places. (Once we had the zip ties in places, you couldn’t move the seat up and down.)
Finally, we used orange wired ribbon to tie off the poufs. Then I hot glued stars to the tulle. I used rubber bands to tie off the tulle so that we can recreate the carriage again for the school Halloween party and trick-or-treating.
Cinderella thought her costume was beautiful and her carriage divine!
Cinderella not what your princess had in mind? Here are a whole bunch of other wheelchair costume ideas.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
So the wheelchair is now a full-time addition to our family. We even had family pictures taken with it recently. Ying loves her wheelchair, loves it.
Who could blame her? It gives her a freedom she’s never previously had. She can go up, down and around all by herself. And, trust me, she does! Watching her zoom over to the light switch and turn it on and off has been a beautiful thing.
While having the wheelchair has been a huge positive change for Ying, it’s also meant a few changes for the rest of us. There was a bit of furniture rearranging inside the house as well as the ramp and a wider door. But the bigger change has obviously been the car.
As much as I never wanted to be a minivan mom, I’m so grateful for this car. Ying drives her wheelchair straight up the ramp and into the car. We had the Permolock C3 installed, so she can ride in the wheelchair, instead of a car seat. (She hasn’t done this yet though, because I’m waiting for the safety vest we ordered to arrive.)
The Permolock is manufactured by Permobil and can only be installed on Permobil chairs. There is a second option, however, and that’s the EZ Lock.
The Permolock is a 2-pin locking system. (EZ Lock is a one-pin system.) That means that if both pins aren’t lined up with the locking base properly, the chair won’t lock. We put taped guides down on the floor to help Ying learn to properly get onto the base. There is a light on the release button that lets you know if you’re properly locked in. Green means you’re good, red means you aren’t. We had our locking mojo pretty well down at first but seem to have lost it. I contacted Permobil and they think that we may need our base shimmed up, so I’m going to be visiting the dealership again soon.
A few more tips:
- You can’t have the Permolock installed into your vehicle until you have your wheelchair because the installer needs both the wheelchair and the locking base to line everything up properly.
- The locking pins for the Permobil K450 are not retractable. But that hasn’t been a problem. We haven’t scratched my hardwood floors or gotten caught in the grass outside.
- If you have an automatic ramp, your keys get bulkier. You’ll have a separate ramp remote from car remote. Hello bulky pockets!
- All the major vehicle manufacturers offer rebates for mobility adaptation/wheelchair conversions. The rebates range from $1000-$1500. Toyota wanted to see a doctor’s note/RX regarding the disability, but luckily I still had the note the DMV required and photocopied that. Go here for a full list of rebates and mobility programs.
- We’ve had to develop a new routine. Getting two preschoolers (and their school bags, water bottles, etc…) and a wheelchair backed out of the car safely and efficiently takes a little getting used too. But like everything, this has simply been about practice. Because we take the wheelchair everywhere, we’ve gotten a lot of practice in a short amount of time.
I can’t sing the praises of this chair enough. It really has been life changing. And, everyone loves the hot, hot pink.
Go little girl in the hot pink chair!