Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring Break II

So, it's Spring Break and we tried to think of cool and different things to do. Since we are members at the Zoo and haven't been in a million years, we decided to check it out on Wednesday. So we headed out after lunch.

Not sure what I was thinking, but we got caught in construction traffic in the Medical Center. What should have been a 5 minute drive took well over 40 minutes. Add to that the fact that the police had closed off all of the turn lanes we needed to aid in traffic flow, and let's just say that we were very glad to get out of the car.

Nana had joined us, and we all agreed to head straight to the giraffes to check out the new baby. The Zoo was as crowded as I had ever seen it, but Henry was really enjoying himself.


We had some great peeks at the giraffes, elephants, lions and tiger and bears (oh my!), as well as the cheetahs, jaguars and lesser-known elands. In between, we also managed an little snack (root beer floats for Nana and Mama, and a cherry icee for the boy) and a ride on the carousel.


Fortunately, we were all content with the abbreviated trip and headed home for a wonderful crock pot meal with Nana and Papa.

So on Thursday, we decided to head to Brenham to tour the Blue Bell Ice Cream factory. I had looked it up online, so I knew they had made special arrangements for Spring Break. But I had never taken Henry for the tour and Papa seemed excited about it too. So we decided to head out right after breakfast

En route, we ran across several large patches of Texas Blue Bonnets. Anyone from Texas knows it is tradition to take pictures of the kiddos with the Blue's just something you gotta do. Here are the ones we snapped this year;


After we passed this patch, we passed several more that were even larger. But we decided that we had our shots and we pressed on. We heard ice cream calling our name.

We arrived in Brenham shortly after 11 a.m. All of our jaws dropped to the ground when we drove passed the Blue Bell factory. The lawn in front of the plant was covered with a snaking line of people. There were tents up, and even bouncies that looked like gallon tubs of ice cream.


There were men at each of the parking lot entrances holding signs that read "Lot Full", but at last, we were waved in to take the place of a car that was pulling out. Whew. We piled out of the car and headed to the end of the snaking line. After we had been in line for about 10-15 minutes, we reached the "check-in" point. We were advised that if we remained in line, we could expect to be called for our tour at 1:40 p.m. was now 11:30 a.m. That meant waiting in line for more than 2 hours. We hadn't planned for this and hadn't eaten lunch or even packed a snack. But, we'd driven this far, we decided to tough it out.

These folks knew how to manage a crowd. As we waited, employees walked around and passed out ice cream hats.


Even better, they handed out free ice cream sandwiches. Granted, they were the miniature bars. But since we were at the factory itself, it was the freshest ice cream sandwich I had ever eaten. They also had strategically placed coolers filled with ice cold water that they provided on a complimentary basis.

They also were scooping ice cream for the nominal fee of $1 a bowl. Shortly after we got in line, Nana, Papa and Henry headed off for their first scoop of ice cream. After they returned to hold our place in line, it was my turn to go and get a scoop. Yum Yum, ice cream before lunch!

It was amazing how quickly those two hours passed. And before we knew it, we were being led into the factory to take our turn. It was very interesting to see the process of how the ice cream gets made. Henry even seemed a bit fascinated by it all and focused mostly on the production line that was making the vanilla. At the end of the tour, we were all given ANOTHER scoop of ice cream...yep, that makes two scoops of ice cream BEFORE lunch.

After the tour, we were hungry for food, so we headed to Chapel Hill and ate at the Bever's Kitchen, where we all ordered chicken fried chicken...some of the best we've had. And then, it was the long drive home.

For Friday, I decided to let Henry pick the activity of the day. I suggested we lunch at Rainforest Cafe, but then left it wide open as far as what he wanted to do. It took only a few moments for him to decide that he wanted to bowl. So that is what we did. We got to play three games...Henry won the first, I beat him for the other two. But he was a good sport about it and announced that he had fun.

We are planning on going to the Rodeo on Saturday. Stay tuned for that recap...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Spring Break

This week is Henry's Spring Break. He could have stayed in school as an "extended day" student, but I decided that a week off sounded like a great idea for both of us. So we've planned (or haven't planned as the case may be) a bit of a staycation.

Yesterday, our first day, we were just kind of getting our bearings. The day was spent running a bunch of errands. It's amazing how long it takes to get things done. When you have a whole day ahead of you with "nothing" planned, it seems like the possibilities are endless.

But then, the day gets filled with sleeping in, a quick visit with a lawyer, a short visit with Nana and Papa, one last "work thing" that needs to be finished, a trip to the car wash, a lunch stop at Taco Bell (Henry's choice), a quick run through Wal-Mart, a stop at CVS to order some prescriptions, a run back home to pick up the grocery list, the weekly grocery shopping, and whew...back home at 4 p.m. to start having fun. Wait a minute, we're having guests for dinner. Time to start the donuts...I mean the dinner. Then there was that minor issue with the potatoe peels clogging the pipes. Good thing Papa was only a few minutes away and "available". Time to put the salmon on the grill...whoops, the propane ran out. Good thing there was a backup tank in the garage. In the end, we had a lovely "dinner party" with Nana & Papa, and Grandma and Grand-daddy (as Henry refers to Leslie's parents). After dinner, we finished the day off with a round of our favorite dice game (10,000...check out the rules here) and a dish of Nana's homemade tapioca.

We decided Tuesday would also be a low-key day, and then we would actually try and go somewhere and do something each of the rest of the days of the week.

Tuesday started with The Boy sleeping until well past 9 a.m. Glad he gets the concept of sleeping in. After that, it was a rush to start our day. We had an appointment at 10:30 to get his silhouette made at a local children's clothing store. Here's a picture of him sitting patiently, and then the end result.


After we finished there, we went to the toy store a few doors down. We had already spent a few minutes in there because we were early for our silhouette appointment. Henry had spied out a few things he wanted to spend his allowance on. It's funny, when we first went in, the first thing that he looked at was the thing he "had to have". After a bit of encouragement, he spent some time looking around at the rest of the toys and in the end, decided on something completely different.

From there, we decided to go to Mr. Fuzzywiggs Candy Factory, down the street. It really was a block away. When I asked if we should move the car, Henry insisted that we walk: "C'mon Mom, it's such a nice day...let's just walk down there!" I couldn't have agreed more, but had to feed the meter a few more quarters. And off we went. On the way, we stopped by the fountain.


And then I let Henry run, since there were no streets to cross or traffic to worry about.


Again, as we entered the candy store, Henry stopped at the first thing he saw. I again encouraged him to shop a little more and take a look at what there was. Again, he totally moved off that first item. He selected three things: the colorful mints with the sprinkles on them (non-pareils??), a stick with sour powder in it, and a package of colorful licorice. Thanks to the generosity of Aunt Courtney, he had a gift card that covered his selection, and has enough left on it that he will be able to make a similar visit in the future. Here he is with his loot:


From there, we made a stop at The Dessert Gallery, where Mama got a treat. I had a piece of delicious lemon cake (before LUNCH!!!) and a cup of coffee. I nibbled on this while Henry ate his licorice.

After this, we made our way back to the car. On our way home, we stopped at the local Regional Airport to watch the airplane activity. There wasn't much going on, so we didn't stay long.


And this was all accomplished before noon. The rest of the day won't be quite as exciting, but I'm hoping we'll make up for it as the week progresses.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday Flashback

I never know what I am going to post here, until I start scrolling through my pictures. This morning, this photo caught my eye.


This picture was taken while we were still in Russia. To be exact, it was taken on November 16, the legal date that I became his mother. The process in Russian court cases involves what is called a "10-day wait". It's a waiting period to ensure that none of the parties involved in the court case change their minds.

The good news for me was that I was able to get custody of Henry during those 10 days. I will readily tell anyone who asks, spending those 3 weeks in Russia after I went to court was probably the most difficult 3 weeks of my life. I was a new mom, stuck in a hotel room in a foreign country far from everyone I loved (except my Mom, who was a lifesaver). I wasn't sure what I was doing.

To add insult to injury, on the very first night, Henry pulled a fast one on me that I thought I would never recover from. See, when I was treating him with scabies cream, he didn't like it too much. As I would learn, when he got really worked up, he had a tendency to "hold his breath". You know when a baby is getting ready to wail, they suck air to maximize the output. Well, Henry got "stuck" on the sucking air phase. Stuck to the point that he started to turn blue. Talk about freaking out. I felt like a chicken with it's head cut off. I didn't know what to do. My first thought was to turn him over and start slapping him on the back...until I realized that would be appropriate if he were choking, which he wasn't. Then I tried blowing into his face. Then I ran to the bathroom to sprinkle some water on him with the hopes of startling him into breathing.

Before I could get to the bathroom, he passed out in my arms. He "woke" immediately and the trauma was over (at least for him). It left me scarred. I couldn't sleep and barely ate for days, worrying about what was wrong with him and asking what I had done wrong. My saving grace was the email exchange I had with my doctor back in the states. You can read more about it here. And the good that came out of it was that I came home 10-15 pounds lighter.

Anyway, I've majorly digressed here. Back to the process. So, those three weeks were the most difficult, but I wouldn't give them back for anything. I am convinced that having those three weeks cemented the bonding process for Henry and I. Yep, we were stuck in a hotel room in a foreign country with no independent transportation and no ability to communicate with the outside world.

But, the flipside of that dilemma is that there was nothing else to do but focus on each other. If Henry was awake, my focus was on him. I was sitting on the floor playing with him and focusing 100 percent on his needs. I didn't have to worry about what I was going to make for dinner, or doing a few loads of laundry, or cleaning the house. It was all about him. And I saw the fruits of this situation. Each day, he warmed more and more to me. He laughed and smiled more. He began to thrive. He took his first steps and began toddling around the room.

I, too, got to know my son. I learned what made him giggle, and what a bossy-pants he could be. I eased into becoming a Mommy and to reading the signs my little boy was giving out. I learned how much he hated the bathroom. I learned how much he liked to eat. I learned how much he loved to be read to, and how much he enjoyed looking at pictures and being told what he was seeing. I discovered his inquisitive nature.

At the end of the 10-day wait, there was a flurry of activity to finalize all of the paperwork. Most families that adopt from Russia pass through Moscow on their way out of the country to visit the Consulate and get the final approval to bring their child home. Part of this final approval involves a cursory medical exam.

Well, from where we were, a trip to Moscow was further away than travelling from the tip of Florida to the furthest tip of Alaska. Fortunately, our agency was able to arrange for a courier to take our paperwork to Moscow on our behalf. One of the activities we needed to complete was to obtain that cursory medical exam by a local doctor so the courier could take the results with her to Moscow.

That is what you see in the picture above. It was quite an interesting experience. When we arrived, we soon discovered that the "clinic" did not have any electricity at the moment. Not to worry, that didn't slow us down a bit. The exam involved me stripping Henry down to nothing and the doctor poking a prodding him a bit. Henry didn't like it one bit, as evidenced from his demeanor in the photo. The doctor thought it was hysterical that I should ask for a picture of her as a testimony to part of the entire process. She said that no other families had ever asked for such a thing, but obliged none-the-less.

After the flurry of activity, we had a few more peaceful days before we left to go home. Things were cut very close for comfort. We were about to pass through the ticket gate at the airport when our courier arrived from her flight from Moscow and rushed to hand off the paperwork we needed to enter the United States with my new little soon-to-be citizen.

PS: For those that worry, Henry has finally outgrown the "turning blue" thing, much to my glee.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

I know, today is Thursday. But the picture was taken on Wednesday!

Monday, March 9, 2009

You just need to work it out...

So, in the spirit of getting back into the habit of blogging, rather than catching up on everything that's been missed, instead, I'll share a recap of our weekend.

We had a special Mommy/Son day on Saturday by attending the Children's Symphony. The theme of the event was "Rodeo". And that was quite appropriate, too, since the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo opened last week and runs through later this month. Henry enjoyed the music, which included a song from Toy Story 2. He also seemed to enjoy the song and story dealing with Billy the Kid, as he tried to repeat it later to Aunt Leslie.

After the concert, we attended the activities provided for the Junior Patrons. It included face/hand painting. Henry never wants to get this done...I'm not sure why. But I talked him into it this time and he really seemed to enjoy getting the cowboy boot painted on his hand. (Of course, later in the car when I wasn't looking, he used a bottle of water to wash it off and get the paint all over his new outfit!) So maybe next time I won't push for the face/hand painting quite so hard.

They also got to decorate a paper cut-out of a cowboy boot. And they had a sawhorse steer that they got to rope. All in all, we both had a good time.

Last night, at about 12:30, I heard the pitter patter of 5-year-old feet running into my room. The little guy jumped into bed with me and announced that he had a bad dream. He then decided he needed to "use the facilities". After that, he crawled back into bed with me, rolled over, and went back to sleep. There were a couple of times during the night where I needed to remind him that he could not put his feet on my head, but other than that, the rest of the night passed uneventfully.

So, this morning, I decided to discuss his dream with him to see what constituted a bad dream for Henry. He advised me that he had a dream about a tornado and that he got stuck somewhere and his house blew down. But some nice guy came along and helped him to get un-stuck and helped him to rebuild his house. So, he told me, it all ended well.

At this point, I asked him if the next time I had a bad dream, could I come and crawl into bed with him? To which, I was told "No, Mommy. You just need to work it out."

I agree with Henry's new favorite phrase: "Hrmph! It's just not fair!"