31 January, 2006

Our Second Visit

Hi All,
Just a quick note to let you know that today was a great visit! Nazariah was here around 11am and we all went out to lunch at Baja Fresh, then ran a few errands, came back home and played. It was a great day!

27 January, 2006

Omi Update & Visit

Last weekend I went to St. Petersburg to spend some time with Omi. She's doing a lot better - but has a long way to go. Omi's been moved to a long-term care facility (also know as a nursing home) and it is much nicer there than in the CCU at the hospital. She has her own room and it is much quieter. Omi is still on the ventilator, so can't talk, and her hands are still very weak, so no writing. But she can mouth words and use her word chart to point out letters. Although that's harder to understand than it seems like it would be! But it was really nice just to be with her. Yesterday she was off the ventilator for 7 hours and made her first trip to the gym. One of her exercises was walking with the parallel bars in the gym.

Omi didn't want any pictures taken of her, but I was able to get a few of my mom and brother. I hope to get those up soon.

Thank you for all the love and prayers ya'll keep sending our way. They really make a difference!

Melissa's a Phenomenon!

phe·nom·e·non pl. phe·nom·e·na (-n)
1. An occurrence, circumstance, or fact that is perceptible by the senses.
2. pl. phe·nom·e·nons
a. An unusual, significant, or unaccountable fact or occurrence; a marvel.
b. A remarkable or outstanding person; a paragon. See Synonyms at

It has now been independently confirmed by an outside source - the medical community no less - that I am a phenomenon. Now you all know what you've always secretly thought is true!

Actually, it's called Raynaud's Phenomenon and it is a disorder of blood circulation in the fingers, nose, toes, and ears. Remember how I always seem to have cold hands? There's more to it then just poor circulation.

My blood vessels spasm and constrict more than the normal person when they get cold and it results in VERY bad circulation. (Read my fingers could actually not have any circulation for a time being.) The only thing to do for this is to try and keep my hands as warm as possible. Hmmm, guess no more snow shoveling for me! Yippee!

You'll be seeing me wearing my gloves an awful lot lately. Some day's I get to work and don't take them off all day. I'm getting very good at typing with them on!

So just remember - I'm a phenomenon!

15 January, 2006

Ice Skating

Not only did we visit with Nazariah yesterday, but we went ice skating. This was Courtney's second time on the ice in his life and Kaija's first.

We had a lot of fun!

The last time we were skating around the rink, Kaija really had her balance, and she just kept her feet straight and we flew!

Someone gave Courtney a great tip for learning to skate - just march on the ice. Believe it or not - it really works!

14 January, 2006

Our First Visit!

Saturday, January 14

We spent 4 wonderful hours with Nazariah today.

More to come later (off to go Ice Skating at Aireane's Birthday Party!), but wanted to let you know we had a great time together.

Sunday, January 15

Okay, we can catch our breaths today. We had a great visit yesterday!

Nazariah (pronounced Nazera) walked in an was immediatly comfortable and playing with us. Kaija took an hour or so to warm up (her usual new person check-out time). But soon we were all were playing, coloring, dressing up, and dancing together.

We did a couple of crafts, so that both Nazariah and Kaija had something to remember from our visit. And of course took pictures.

Nazariah really like to watch the picture show that is on our computer's screen saver - and she was a little surprised when her picture started to show up. I printed out a few pictures for Nazariah to take to home with her and Kaija has one hung up next to her drawing table.

Kaija got tired towards the end, we've been busy the last few days and doing a lot of swimming, so she wanted to lay down. (By the way, she can do a cannon ball by herself into the deep end - and "doggel paddle.")

Nazariah was still raring to go - quite the pistol of energy. The stairs were a major attraction in our house. Come to find out that her foster family doesn't have stairs. So up and down, up and down, up and down. Courtney and I got a lot of exercise yesterday, too!

Both girls are definitly Divas - but show it in different ways.

Nazariah already didn't want to leave - and we are all looking forward to January 28 when we'll get together again.

I'll be in Florida next weekend, so that's why we have to wait a little longer. Our next visit will be all day, we're thinking we'll go on an outing.

Check out the posting below for more info on our Adoption Journey.

Love to all & be well!

13 January, 2006

Our Journey . . . So Far

Well, our adoption journey has taken a few twists and turns the last couple of days. To bring everyone up to date . . .

We started our journey December 2004. And besides doing all the paperwork, home visits, interviews, etc., we hadn't heard much from DYFS. (Maybe one day, with Courtney's help I'll fill you in on all that - especially about the social worker who seemed to be able to pull children out of her desk drawer when pressed.) But that was soon to change.

On November 18, 2005, Courtney is twisting and turning through the city of Newark en route to Newark Airport, since I-280 is backed up with traffice. I'm on my way down to Florida to be with my grandmother, who was admitted to the emergency room the night before and I'm told needs emergency heart surgery that the surgon doesn't think she'll survive.

As we figure our way to the airport, we are also trying to find the phone number to call a social worker back at DYFS. Of course, the number got cut off on our voice mail. I'm on one cell phone talking to Elektra (back at the JCC) who's doing her magic searching on the net to find matches to what numbers we do have. Courtney's on his blackberry trying all the phone number matches that Elektra is feeding me.

Somehow we get the right phone number.

We're almost to the airport as I'm talking to the social worker - we now have a name! Courtney get's more information that weekend and emails it to me in FL. We have the first of the family evaluations and a picture to go with it. Her name is Nazariah (pronouced Nazera) and she is a cutie! (You can see her picture at: http://www.heartgallerynj.com/gallerylive/view.php?gallery_id=2&page=2)

Somehow the next 2 weeks fly by fast as Kaija and I are in Florida. My mom also flew in from Las Vegas. She, my Uncle Greg & Aunt Dee, myself and Kaija spend most of our time waiting in the hospital. Waiting for doctors, waiting for visiting hours, waiting for information. Omi ends up needing open heart surgery for a double bypass and to replace 2 valves. But, she's too weak to do the surgery right away. On November 23, she has the surgery and it's a success! Now it's on to recovering (you can read a little more about that in past posts).

Kaija and I go home in December. Both Courtney and I have read through all the paperwork a million times. We haven't heard from a case worker. We still don't know who our case worker is. Finally, Courtney gets to someone in the thousands of phone calls and messages that he's left.

On December 19 we meet with Nazariah's case worker and her case worker's manager. We talk, answer questions, ask questions and most importantly set the date that we'll get to see Nazariah for the first time. We can't do that until January 12 at 11am.

Courtney and I block out the whole day. I go into work early to try to get some stuff done, Courtney takes Kaija to school. She knows that we are meeting a new friend today and is excited. Somehow, I manage to get work done. Inside, I'm a mess of nerves and energy.

Courtney calls me at 10am. The case worker (Kim) was on the way to Nazariah's house and called to let them know she was almost there. No one answered the phone. The foster family had forgotten; everyone was at work or at daycare. We were both crushed (to say the least). Courtney's given them one hour to find out what was going on and to let us know what will be happening. (He's also calls our state representative and govenor, we're getting a little fed up with the run-arounds and mess-ups that we've got with the DYFS workers.) We tell Kim that we're willing to do it later that day, but it can't happen. The last time Kim had spoken to the foster family was December 28 - no follow-up call, no reminder the day before.

Our next try at a visit is planned for Saturday at 10am. I go around and tell Aunt Alisa (who was to pick up Kaija and take her to our house to play) and Aunt Rebecca, notify all of Kaija's teachers that she isn't leaving at 12, and then go up to my office, shut the door, and cry. I can't belive this is happening this way - evrything was supposed to fall into place and be perfect. Courtney and I meet for lunch - it helps to make us both feel better. He also picks up Kaija early and they go swimming - so she had a special day with Daddy. (The next morning she realizes what happened - or didn't - and told me "We didn't get to meet our new friend last day.") All Courtney and I could say was that we'd meet her soon - we still hadn't gotten a confirmation for Saturday yet.

Thankfully, that confirmation comes - and you can read more about our visit in the post above this!

Fancy Bathroom

For those who don't know, we've been remodeling our bathroom since November. Finally we are at a point that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Take a look at the photos! Wow. It's looking too fancy for our house :-). But, boy is it looking good. Hopefully within the next week and a half there will be a toilet up there, too!

Be well.

10 January, 2006

Omi Update & Things & Thursday

Hi Everyone,

Well I havn't told ya'll about Omi lately, so I thought I'd share some of the good news. She is completely off the dialysis! Plus, this weekend Omi was moved out of CCU and the hospital to a nursing home. At Kindred House she will be able to receive better phsyical therapy than what the hospital can provide. We are very happy that she has reached this next step! Please keep sending your loving thoughts and prayers.

On the other side of things, Kaija is turning into a little fish! Her class goes swimming once a week and Mommy & Daddy try to take her once or twice during the week (you'll read of one of the reasons below :-). She is doing great. Last week, Courtney had her doing cannon balls into the deep end of the pool.

School is going well for her, also. She is just growing by leaps and bounds. It's amazing to see and hear her.

Thank you Grandpa Jim & Grandma Jodi for the GREAT book!

Kaija and her dog, Buster, getting ready for school.

One of the reasons we try to go swimming during the week is because our one full bath is under construction (and has been since November). Soon we hope to have our bath back. The tile should be completed tomorrow. Then it's just little things like the the rest of the lights, toilet and sink. But boy is it looking good - it looks like it belongs to someones really fancy house!

So, onto Thursday. Things have been finally moving in our Adoption Journey. This Thursday is going to be a very big day in the Allen household because we will be meeting a little girl for the first time. I don't want to talk to much about it (don't want to jinx anything). But will keep ya'll posted.

Love to everyone!

03 January, 2006

New Year's Eve 2005

What a great New Year's Eve!

The Vural & Allen Families descended on the Rossi Family's house for appetizers, dinner, conversations and friends. Once we were sufficiently stuffed, and the menorah was lit, it was on to the real excitement of the evening at First Night Montclair.

The girls (Isabella, Ilayda and Kaija) had been waiting all evening for this: meeting Dora the Explorer!

You should have heard Isabella and Ilayda when they first spotted Dora, I imagine it's what the girls did when they first saw Elvis walk onto the stage.

Unfortunately, a larger-than-life-size Dora is a bit much to take in when you're around 3 feet tall. (Think her head is big on TV? It's REALLY big in person.) But that soon faded, and everyone was talking to Diego, Dora and tickling Boots the monkey.

After the Dora frenzy was over, we took a brisk walk over to the UU Montclair Church and let the girls run around the front lawn. A few unexpected snow angels later (Ilayda first, then Bella), we were off to the Tom Chapin concert. The girls managed to keep most of their clothes on - but found the "mosh" pit and had fun dancing and acting crazy. (Okay, so only the tights/socks and shoes came off.) Evan and Okan even had fun here - dancing and playing.

After another brisk walk back to the mini-vans (yes, two of the families have succumbed) and quite a few snowballs thrown, it was back to the Rossi's for more food, wine and our “unofficial” count-down at 11pm. It's amazing how you always have lots of room for dessert fondue.

To good friends & good times!

May we all be blessed with a happy, healthy and peaceful new year.

What a cutie!

Here's our cutie playing her new favorite game - hopscotch.

And another favorite activity - eating cookies.