Happy New Year! · January 02, 2009

Bidding Farewell to 2008

I have to say that I am glad to bid farewell to 2008. It was a year with one big high -bringing Wyatt home, and lots of challenging lows.

Wyatt's adoption was so different from Julia's. With her adoption we saw God's direction and fingerprints all over the place reaching all the way into the first six months of having her home.  Sometimes I wonder with Wyatt if we did the right thing because God was so much more subtle this time.  However, that little shoulder shrug and irresistable grin always confirm that yes, Wyatt is home where he belongs.  He is a happy little guy, and while we have some stealing (as far as we know, family members are his only victims, and I no longer frisk him when leaving places) and lying issues, they are not nearly as bad as we expected. He has spent his entire life fighting for everything he ever had, and until now he never could call anything his own.  We have work to do, but we have an amazing kid on our hands.  ...and for those subtle hints, I will share two - Wyatt's birthday falls on the 17th of the month, and Zachary's does as well.  Some might call this a coincidence, but I don't think so.  Wyatt's birthday is also six months after Julia's.  Zachary and Savannah also have birthdays that are six months apart.  When we started the adoption process, I often wondered if our next child would have a birthday six months after Julia's. 

Our vacation was another "high" this year.  Because we stayed in one place with the entire family, the kids loved having their cousins so close.  They thought it was one of the best vacations ever.

Of course another high was meeting new friends as we journeyed to Wyatt.  I really enjoy keeping up with Erin and Allie through our blogs.

While adopting Wyatt was the high of the year, it has been a difficult year on many other fronts. I started 2008 in much prayer for a family I don't even know whose little girl was hanging on tight to life (www.madelinelester.com). She is now holding tight to Jesus in his arms.  Months later, as we prepared to leave for China, we were horrified by two devastating events... the earthquake that claimed 10s of thousands of Chinese lives and the horrible loss that the Chapman family faced when their youngest daughter was ripped from their lives.  While we faced leaving our children for the longest we have ever left them, we were reminded of how very fragile life is. We wanted so badly to take them with us, and I missed them so much while we were in Beijing, I thought I was going to have to return home at the earliest possible time.  However, the boredom of staying in Hefei changed that.  They would have gone crazy there, and we would not have had as much freedom to get to know two families who are now very dear to us - the Miracles and the Millikens.  I do still want to take the whole family back to China - perhaps for a heritage tour, but the other difficulty of 2008 has put that on hold for a looooong time.

2008 was also financially challenging.  We faced extra and unexpected adoption expenses, and we had hoped for a grant to help cover those, but it never panned out. We then faced medical challenges beyond what we anticipated when Zachary was admitted to the hospital in late August with a staph infection.  Our out of pocket expenses for that would not have been a big issue, but we were facing another surgery for Wyatt.  We had prepared financially for Wyatt's surgery, but not for Zachary's.  In addition to adoption and medical expenses, we were also forced to replace a vehicle and our refrigerator in 2008.  My employer also changed the way they distribute our pay and as a result my paychecks are lower than they were last year -ugh!

Of course there was also the hurricane that brought an eight day power outage and much travel for Andy this fall while we were wrestling with making the right school choice for Wyatt.

It was also a difficult year on the extended family front - not a good year for marriage in our family.  Fortunately, things are much better because of divorce for our extended family.

We ended the year with a two week Christmas break.  I had one goal for the break -watch a movie from start to finish.  I can't remember the last time I did that.  I think it was when I took Savannah to see Nim's Island last summer.  I have yet to meet that goal with two days left. 

Wyatt saw the dentist and the eye doctor this week.  He has told Andy that he doesn't like any doctor.  Unfortunately, he has eight cavities that the dentist plans to fill in four appointments which all have to be in the morning.  I am likely to miss more work in a school year where I have already missed the most days ever other than when I was on maternity leave.  It is also an evaluation year for me -UGH!  The good news is that the dentist was very impressed with Wyatt's cleft repair and with the condition of his teeth.  He said Wyatt actually had fewer cavities than you would expect from a child coming from an orphanage.

I also tried this week to apply for Wyatt's social security card.  What a mess that was!  I waited in the social security office for three hours.  The application was already completed, and I had on hand his Kentucky certificate of foriegn birth, his Kentucky adoption registration, and his Certificate of Citizenship.  When I finally made it to the counter, they could not prove his birthdate with any of those documents because their "system" does not allow for it."  His birthdate is on every one of those forms, and in some cases they will take a baptism record as proof of a birthdate.  Yet, they cannot accept a government issued form for this.  What did they want?  His Chinese passport.  Okay, let's think about this.  Did you watch the Olympics?  Do you really believe the gymnasts were 16?  Hello, we won't take American government proof of his age, we must have it from the Chinese.  (I know, I know they actually want to see the Visa issued by the US Embassy.  I just can't resist a little sarcastic irritation). So, I came home and gathered all the above documents including his medical insurance card which they aslo had to see and mailed them along with his Chinese passport to the office.  I also included a letter that I really fought the temptation to word quite sarcastically.  I do realize they are just trying to do their job within the "system."  So, we will see how this turns out.

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New Year watching the countdown
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Just this week, I decided to build a photo book of our 2008.  While working on it, I was choosing pictures from the Chinese New Year last year.  Wyatt joined me at the computer and asked if we could do that.  I told him that we would celebrate the Chinese New Year this year as well which was confusing because he knew we were getting ready for a party for the new year.  How exciting it is to be able to share anticipation for another fun event with him!

Andy's sister Pam and her family joined us along with Andy's mom.  It is a three hour drive from Indiana for them to get here, but we had a great time.  Wyatt opened birthday gifts from his Granny and Christmas gifts from Andy's side of the family.  He was very happy to receive more Bakugan balls, a Hot Wheels race track that is really cool, and a helicopter.  We feasted on pizza with homemade pizza dough, Andy's awesome dough balls, and hamburgers from the grill served on homemade buns.  Can you tell that Andy likes his breadmaker?  He also made Strawberry Jam in it for breakfast on New Year's Day.  Apparently, the strawberry jam is quite delicious.  I wouldn't know because I don't like strawberries.  Weird, I know, but half of my family does not like nuts which I find to be equally weird.  Who wants fudge without nuts?

Julia did not make it past 10:30, but the rest of the kids made it to midnight and beyond.  When we went to bed at about 12:30, they were all camped out in the living room with Aunt Pam watching The Mummy 3.  I barely fell asleep before I was up with a stomach virus of some sort.  Traditionally, I take all the Christmas decorations down on New Year's day, but this year, I was in bed the entire day. 

When Julia awoke on Jan. 1, her first question was, "did I miss the party?"


We are starting 2009 with all kinds of medical appointments put off to be on our new flexible spending money - eye doctor, dentist etc.  Zachary has much to look forward to as his braces come off very soon. 

My only goal is to persue getting out of debt with a vengeance.  Andy plans to start teaching drum lessons for some extra income, and I am playing with the idea of a summer job.  This is always tricky because we have worked extra jobs in the past only to find our extra income eaten up in taxes, so we will have to see if we can even figure out what might happen with that.  We are promised to be taxed more with our new administration. Great! 

 Prayers needed:

On New Year's Eve at approximately 8:00p.m., my parents received a call from my dad's cardiologist.  I note the time because getting a call that late in the evening on a holiday from a doctor does not generally bring good news.  My dad needs angioplasty (I think).  I am so not medical, but he does need a heart surgery because his stress test results were not good.  He had bypass surgery about 14 years ago.  He was supposed to have knee surgery this month, and this is badly needed as he has struggled with his knee for years now and has been unable to enjoy things he used to, like walks through the zoo.  Because it will take six months to clear him medically for any surgery after this heart surgery, he will need to wait on getting his knee repair.

This website is primarily a keepsake for Wyatt, and I plan to continue to chronicle his new experiences in Ameria through the anniversary of his first year here.  I have found that I like this way of staying connected with friends, so I am currently playing with a family blog at  lifewiththepages.blogspot.com

I am not sure if I like it, so I may try something else, but you are welcome to stop by and check it out if you like.