Saturday, December 27, 2008

Video 4 of 4 (Lemonhead)

After her haircut, Emily chose "Bow Wow's" as the place where she wanted to celebrate and eat supper. (She calls Max & Erma's "Bow Wow's" because of my sister's dog, Max.) She begged for my lemon after I squeezed it into my water. Fun times!

Video 3 of 4 (The finished product)

After the haircut, Krystel asked me if I'd like her to style Emily's hair. I told her I'd be thrilled if she wanted to because I am certainly out of ideas on things to do with Emily's hair. Not only did she style it, but she gave me lessons! Woohoo!

On top of that, the stuff she sprayed on Emily's hair when she was done smelled like cupcakes! Not only did our daughter look adorable after her haircut but I couldn't stop smelling her hair all night! Yummers!

Video 2 of 4 (The Haircut)

After Daddy got off work yesterday, he joined us as we ventured to Cookie Cutters for Emily's very first haircut. Cookie Cutters was awesome experience! As soon as we walked in the door, Emily spotted the ginormous slide and started playing with her newfound friend, Lily, who had just finished getting her hair cut. Lily was just slightly younger than Emily but helped her crawl through the tunnel and showed her how to go down the big tube slide.

Emily's turn came and she followed her new friend and hair stylist, Krystel, back and got to sit in a car while she got her coiffeur trimmed. We picked Elmo as our in-flight entertainment and it was fabulous flying from there on out... enjoy!

Video 1 of 4 (Mirror, Mirror)

Emily accompanied me in picking up Nannie's birthday present yesterday. She kept herself occupied while I did some shopping... and, NO, I did not leave her here unattended! In fact, she was quite upset when it was time to move on.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Who Knew?

Sorry, I just couldn't resist. Emily is an awesome snowboarder so I had to share it with y'all!

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Another day w/ the sickie...

I stayed home from work today with Emily and it was a good thing I did. I think we went through a record number of diapers today... I leave the rest to your imagination.

Saturday afternoon we were supposed to have gone to Dad's lodge for their Christmas party. Santa was supposed to make an appearance and I had talked about it the night before with Em and prepped her in the morning so it would be something she'd be looking forward to. She was a tad disappointed when we stayed home Saturday since she was sick. I told her we would try to visit the mall sometime this week to see if he was there.

Fast forward to yesterday morning: I let Emily sleep until the very last minute before we had to leave for the sitter's. It was still dark outside and her room was dark when I opened the door. I thought she was still asleep until I was greeted by, "Ho, Hoo, Hoooooo". Apparently, she's still thinking about her trip to the mall this week!

Today, even though she was sick she didn't let it dampen her spirits. I've tried to teach her to look at things with her eyes and not have to touch everything. She loves to look at our computer screen and keyboards and it's soo tempting for her to want to touch the keys while we're trying to type. Tonight she was identifying the letters on my keyboard that she can say (Z, Y, A, B, T, O, P, I, S, D, M, B, and C) and ended up trying to touch/press every one of them. I told her to look with her eyes... and the goofball literally tried to touch the keys with her eyeballs! Then she realized it was funny and kept trying to do it over and over. Sheesh!

At supper tonight, Emily tried her hand a praying for the first time. After I finished praying, I realized she still had her hands together and her head bowed. It went something like this, "blahblahblahDaddy, blahblahblahRyRy, blahblahblahPapa, blahblahblahShelllll, blahblahblahblahblahblahblahHoHoHooo". Um, yeah. I see where I rank.

Have a good evening! Let's pray this bug works its way out of Em's system soon!

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Sickie

The flu bug has been making its journey around the neighborhood and it didn't feel like skipping our house this year. Em was a little extra cuddly on Friday night and I just thought she was tired. Saturday brought stomach cramps, some nasty diapers and a little spewage. She didn't have an appetite all day and it was difficult getting her to drink anything. Em and I stayed home from church Sunday "just in case" and it was a day without incident.

I figured she had gotten it out of her system and could return to the babysitter's today. Bad call, I guess. I got a call this afternoon about an hour before I was done for the day and it sounded like Em still wasn't feeling well. (2 diapers every half hour isn't normal, right?!?) I picked her up and headed home and so far (knock on wood!) she's been okay.

Throw some prayers up (not stomach contents) for the little one if you would. We didn't make it in for flu shots yet!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Adoption Scammer on America's Most Wanted

Since we began our quest to adopt in the summer of 2004, we've met a lot of local and online families that have journeyed down the same path. Many were able to complete successful adoptions and unfortunately, for various reasons, several families were not able to have the same happy ending that we have.

The ending that hurts the most are the families that have been scammed by fraudulent adoption agencies. Shortly after we returned home with Emily we met a local family that was also interested in adopting from Kazakhstan and even had a picture of the little girl they were paperchasing. I've stayed in touch with this family and long story short, their story didn't have a happy ending. The agency they were working with (AIP) took them for tens of thousands of dollars. They considered switching agencies but could no longer afford the process. They never really found out if the little girl they were hoping to adopt was ever even available or if that was a lie to. Scams like this just burn me. I know first hand the emotional roller coaster that I road during our process and I still hate roller coasters! (I wasn't very fond of them to begin with!)

With that being said, pasted below is a link for one of the biggest adoption scammers out there... the one that scammed them. When we started researching agencies, we checked all the references and asked tons of people online for their recommendations. AIP (Adoption International Program), which is/was run by Orson Mozes is an agency that NObody should ever get involved with. He threatened clients, extorted money, used bait and switch tactics to lure people in to signing with his agency, and put many people's lives in danger.

for adoption scams

PLEASE follow this link to America's Most Wanted and read the article about this person. Look at his picture and if you recognize him, PLEASE call the authorities. He's been on the run for a long time and in 2007 had 62 felony counts against him and had fled with over $500,000.

Please also consider tuning in to America's Most Wanted episode about Orson Mozes which will air on Saturday, January 3rd at 9/8 C on FOX. Please spread the message. The more that see this, the more likely someone will recognize him and will know where he is.

... stepping off my soap box now.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Baby Hugs... an emailed story to share

A very good friend forwarded the story below to me this morning. It struck a chord with me since Emily does the very same thing as the little boy in the story. More often than not, our adventures happen in the grocery store where we love to shop together.

Shopping with Emily is still one of my favorite things to do with her. Although she's growing fast, at the time being, she still fits in the front seat of the shopping carts and we talk and play all the way through the store. She doesn't beg for things off the shelves. She doesn't squirm or cause problems. She loves to ask, "What is that?" and when I tell her we need to find something, she puts her hands under her chin, scrunches her face up and responds with, "Hmmmmmm" like she's really trying to figure out where things are. She loves to read letters off of signs and labels and loves to mimic the expressions of the kids and people on the boxes and advertisements in the stores. And, for at least the past year, Emily loves to wave and say "hi" to random strangers as they walk past us. Many times they don't hear her and she'll try again. More often than not, her "hi's" are returned with a twinkle in the eye and a broad smile and a wave. It's amazing how a little 2 year old girl can change a person's entire demeanor by simply saying, "hi". And, it is truly humbling how my reaction to some of those same people changes when my daughter opens the door for a conversation with them. God is already using this little girl to do ministry and to help her parents reach out to others.

I hope you enjoy the story below and that it touches you as much as it did me.


- - - - - - - - - -

Baby's Hug

We were the only family with children in the restaurant. I sat Erik in a high chair and noticed everyone was quietly sitting and talking. Suddenly, Erik squealed with glee and said, 'Hi.' He pounded his fat baby hands on the high chair tray. His eyes were crinkled in laughter and his mouth was bared in a toothless grin, as he wriggled and giggled with merriment.

I looked around and saw the source of his merriment. It was a man whose pants were baggy with a zipper at half-mast and his toes poked out of would-be shoes His shirt was dirty and his hair was uncombed and unwashed. His whiskers were too short to be called a beard and his nose was so varicose it looked like a road map.

We were too far from him to smell, but I was sure he smelled. His hands waved and flapped on loose wrists. 'Hi there, baby; hi there, big boy. I see ya, buster,' the man said to Erik.

My husband and I exchanged looks, 'What do we do?'

Erik continued to laugh and answer, 'Hi.'

Everyone in the restaurant noticed and looked at us and then at the man. The old geezer was creating a nuisance with my beautiful baby. Our meal came and the man began shouting from across the room, 'Do ya patty cake? Do you know peek-a-boo? Hey, look, he knows peek-a-boo.'

Nobody thought the old man was cute. He was obviously drunk.

My husband and I were embarrassed. We ate in silence; all except for Erik, who was running through his repertoire for the admiring skid-row bum, who in turn, reciprocated with his cute comments.

We finally got through the meal and headed for the door. My husband went to pay the check and told me to meet him in the parking lot. The old man sat poised between me and the door. 'Lord, just let me out of here before he speaks to me or Erik,' I prayed. As I drew closer to the man, I turned my back trying to sidestep him and avoid any air he might be breathing. As I did, Erik leaned over my arm, reaching with both arms in a baby's 'pick-me-up' position. Before I could stop him, Erik had propelled himself from my arms to the man.

Suddenly a very old smelly man and a very young baby consummated their love and kinship. Erik in an act of total trust, love, and submission laid his tiny head upon the man's ragged shoulder. The man's eyes closed, and I saw tears hover beneath his lashes. His aged hands full of grime, pain, and hard labor, cradled my baby's bottom and stroked his back. No two beings have ever loved so deeply for so short a time.

I stood awestruck. The old man rocked and cradled Erik in his arms and his eyes opened and set squarely on mine. He said in a firm commanding voice, 'You take care of this baby.'

Somehow I managed, 'I will,' from a throat that contained a stone.

He pried Erik from his chest, lovingly and longingly, as though he were in pain. I received my baby, and the man said, 'God bless you, ma'am, you've given me my Christmas gift.'

I said nothing more than a muttered thanks. With Erik in my arms, I ran for the car. My husband was wondering why I was crying and holding Erik so tightly, and why I was saying, 'My God, my God, forgive me.'

I had just witnessed Christ's love shown through the innocence of a tiny child who saw no sin, who made no judgment; a child who saw a soul, and a mother who saw a suit of clothes. I was a Christian who was blind, holding a child who was not. I felt it was God asking, 'Are you willing to share your son for a moment?' when He shared His for all eternity.

The ragged old man, unwittingly, had reminded me, 'To enter the Kingdom of God, we must become as little children.'

Sometimes, it takes a child to remind us of what is really important. We must always remember who we are, where we came from and, most importantly, how we feel about others. The clothes on your back or the car that you drive or the house that you live in does not define you at all; it is how you treat your fellow man that identifies who you are.

(**After originally posting this, a new internet friend named Ellen shared the following information: "This was written by Nancy L. Dahlberg and published in at least two of William Baush's books. This is (a) stolen and (b) changed. It properly ends at "My God, my God, forgive me" other sentences are changed as well. "

I did some internet research of my own and did not find any information showing that Nancy L. Dahlberg wrote this. If she did, my apologies and I am all for giving credit where credit is due. It is still a very touching piece and I choose to leave it on my blog in hopes that it might change someone's actions especially during this holiday season.)

Friday, December 05, 2008

Good News... Bad News...

GOOD NEWS: I snagged some more pictures and video of Miss Em over the past couple of days.
BAD NEWS: They aren't included in this post.

GOOD NEWS: Emily had her botox follow-up appointment at Children's Hospital on Tuesday afternoon and (despite getting shots the last time she was there) she happily walked into the building, the waiting room and the exam rooms!
BAD NEWS: The doctor did a couple of flexy-things with Em's feet and quickly pronounced that Emily's flexibility hasn't changed one iota.

Say what?

The following day was physical therapy day and I mentioned the above to the physical therapist. Thankfully, she had the same reaction that I did. She didn't agree at all. She says there are so many things that Emily is doing now that she simply couldn't do before. She is also walking with her feet down when we remind her and she couldn't do that before.

We did get another prescription from Dr. B at Children's (whom Emily is now referring to as Nana B). They are recommending that Emily start going to PT twice a week now. So let's add those up... 2 physical therapies each week, 1 speech therapy each week, botox injections every 3 months, botox follow-ups 3 weeks after each injection, regular pediatric appointments and shots and a partridge in a pear tree!

GOOD NEWS: We found out Wednesday evening that Emily was approved for BCMH treatment funding. We don't have all the details yet, but should be getting them on Monday in the mail. She was approved a couple of months ago for BCMH Early Intervention funding, but if I understand it all correctly, that runs out when she turn 3 in May (can you believe she'll be 3 already!) and it has some different stipulations to it.
BAD NEWS: Apparently BCMH funding is getting hacked at like everything else in the Ohio Governor's budget and the last time it happened thousands of families' funding was cut with very little notice. The state is also looking at moving BCMH to be covered under some sort of Medicaid umbrella and that causes all sorts of other problems for BCMH families. At this point, I don't have a clue how this will effect us. If this happens, I don't know if we'll lose all funding, some funding or if everything will change altogether for us. I'm holding on to what I have right now and praying that Emily won't be harmed by the beaurocratic number crunching and shuffling that is said to be happening in the wings.

That's it from me, but if you care at all about special needs families in Ohio, the letter pasted below is definitely worth a read. We CAN do something to try to prevent this from happening. Take up your pens... or word processors and start writing!

- - - - - - - -

What is Happening to BCMH???

I am a concerned parent who has two children with Special Health Care Needs receiving benefits under the Ohio Department of Health’s Bureau for Children with Medical Handicaps program. I am a member of the Parent Advisory Council (PAC) for the Bureau for Children with Medical Handicaps. I am also a working, tax paying, citizen of Ohio. My daughters are covered under private health insurance and rely heavily upon BCMH to be their safety net.

In 1969, the Ohio Bureau of Crippled Children’s Program (BCCS), now BCMH, was moved to Ohio Department of Public Welfare from the Ohio Department of Health. Because of disastrous results, it was moved back to the ODH in 1974. Medicaid did not understand the BCMH program. The end result was that BCMH clients were lost in the public welfare system and many working families did not qualify for services.

In 2006, the state again considered moving BCMH from ODH to the then proposed Department of Medicaid. At that time stakeholders of BCMH warned that such a move would put the uniqueness of BCMH in jeopardy. The stakeholders were concerned that BCMH would be seen as and become a Medicaid-type program thus risking its ability to provide services to working, middle class, privately insured families with Children with Special Healthcare Needs as well as to those Children with Special Health Care Needs who are covered by both Medicaid and BCMH. In response to the stakeholders’ concerns, BCMH remained an important part of ODH’s mission.

BCMH is again under threat of removal from the purview of ODH to under the scrutiny, management, and operation of EMMA (Executive Medicaid Management Administration). This move clearly goes against legislative intent in maintaining the uniqueness of the BCMH program and against the recommendations of the BCMH Legislative Task Force to Study the Future Funding of BCMH. It also clearly has been demonstrated that such a move will prove ineffective in providing services to Ohioans who rely on the program for health care.

What is at Stake?
What happens if BCMH is moved under the executive management and administration of EMMA and becomes a Medicaid-like program?

  1. This move puts the uniqueness of BCMH and its ability to be a safety net for families of Children with Special Health Care Needs in jeopardy. BCMH has the potential to become Medicaid-like and be lumped into Medicaid with the same limits to benefits.
  2. Many children of working families who have special health care needs neither financially nor medically qualify for Medicaid. Applying Medicaid eligibility requirements will result in the loss of services to people who rely on BCMH for their health care.
  3. The population that is currently served by BCMH is not the same population as those currently being served by Medicaid and some of those being served by BCMH will fall though the cracks and lose their services.
  4. Medicaid maintains a limit on the number of prescriptions per month and tends to be too restrictive for people of certain disease groups covered under the BCMH program. Relocating BCMH under EMMA could result in patients being unable to get the prescriptions that they need to stay healthy each month. BCMH Medicaid dual eligible clients are currently permitted and encouraged by BCMH to opt out of Medicaid managed care plans because they are too restrictive and present barriers to clients obtaining appropriate and accessible health care and necessary medications.
  5. The state of Ohio has more control over BCMH and the benefits offered to its clients than it would under Medicaid.
  6. The staff of BCMH works directly with families who have Children with Special Healthcare Needs to make difficult situations work and to find solutions to unique problems while Medicaid does not.
  7. Benefits unique to BCMH will be lost as BCMH is forced to become Medicaid-like.
a) The PIPP program (Private Insurance Premium Assistance Program) is unique to BCMH in that it helps to pay premiums so that clients on the program are able to retain their private health insurance creating a cost savings for the BCMH program and the state of Ohio.

b) The Medicaid spend down program for disabled dual eligible BCMH/Medicaid clients allows BCMH to pay the Medicaid spend down amounts to ensure that they will receive both Medicaid and BCMH benefits which presents a cost savings to the BCMH program and the state of Ohio.

c) BCMH is able to draw down Federal Maternal Child Health Block Grant dollars and individual county real estate tax dollars within the Ohio Department of Health. Medicaid cannot access these dollars.

d) BCMH allows Children with Special Health Care Needs to be covered under the program until age 21 while Medicaid stops at age 18. Clients with CF are covered into adulthood.

e) BCMH allows for the HIPP program (Hemophilia Insurance Premium Program) while Medicaid does not.

f) BCMH works in conjunction with the Help Me Grow Program while Medicaid does not.

g) BCMH has a diagnostic component while Medicaid does not.

h) BCMH supports families allowing them to continue to work and pay taxes while Medicaid does not.

BCMH Budget

In addition to a proposed move, BCMH has also seen cuts to its current budget with more cuts likely to be proposed in the near future. In recent months, ODH/BCMH has experienced a budget reduction by action of Governor Strickland in the following ways…BCMH Children’s line item has been lowered by $512,610 (4.75% cut); the Adult Cystic Fibrosis line item has also been cut by $94,044 (almost 6% cut).

Historically, ODH/BCMH has handled budget reductions by manipulating the financial eligibility formulas resulting in the elimination of clients covered under the program. The last time cuts were incurred; five thousand clients were removed from the program with little to no notification of BCMH clients. Some benefits in the service package were also cut affecting thousands of clients.

What Can I Do to Help?
In the coming weeks, we will be organizing a campaign to address the issue of budget cuts and the movement of BCMH directly with the Governor’s office and the state General Assembly. We need your help to ensure that BCMH continues to provide services to Ohioans.

I would strongly advocate that BCMH remain under the leadership and direction of ODH so that it may retain its uniqueness and continue serving the needs of Children with Special Health Care Needs of Ohio.

Please distribute widely.


Mr. David L. Hoffman, Parent of two children on BCMH
Member of the Parent Advisory Council (PAC) for BCMH
PH: 740.548.7305

For more information, or for more information about the upcoming action steps, please contact:

Mrs. Kim Mathews
Member of the Parent Advisory Council (PAC) for BCMH
PH: 740.366.2858

Mr. Jason Ranville
Public Policy Specialist
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Say What?

I've been trying to catch this on video for you, but the elusive Emily buttons her lips and has been getting all shy when the camera has been out lately.

Here's the story:

We were driving around town a couple of weeks ago and from the back seat we hear singing... More specifically, we heard, "Aw, sh!#. Aw, sh!#. Boom!" Tom and I looked at each other in disbelief and then acknowledged that we both heard the same thing. After stifling my laughter, it took a few seconds for my mommy-interpretation skills to kick in.

Step 1: Emily had been at the babysitter's earlier and spent the day playing with nearly all girls.

Step 2: Boom = down (as in boom boom boom = going down the stairs on your rumpus)

Step 3: Piece it all together and fill in some MAJOR gaps.

My sweet, lovely, angel of a daughter was singing "Ashes, ashes, we all fall down!" She confirmed my theory when we got home and she started dancing in circles while singing and plopping to the ground on the "boom" part.

Oh, but it was so much better hearing it straight from the horse's mouth!

Monday, December 01, 2008

What the heck?

For the past month or two, I’ve been thinking that Emily is getting closer and closer to being ready to start the whole potty-training thing. At diaper changing time, she’s thrilled to tell us if she’s gone potty or pooped. She’s intrigued by the whole toilet thing. She’s had her own special potty chair at my parent’s house for a month or so and seems really excited about it. And last weekend we even purchased one for our house.

Potty training is one of those parenting areas where I’m just not too confident with my skills so I’ve been doing some extra reading online. Last week, while visiting the web site, I was excited to find a section devoted to potty training! I read through a couple of screens and felt my confidence level rise as I kept saying to myself, “Yes, that makes perfect sense. That’s probably what I would have tried doing.”

That is until I clicked on the advice link for “We can help you with some ways to start”. Try it! It takes you to a recipe for “Corn and Tomato Pudding”! First off -- Can you say disgusting?!??! Secondly, it’s obviously an incorrect link… but how hilarious is it that something so disgusting is linked to the topic of potty training and all things toilet-related!?!? I had to click on it a few times to be sure!

I just want to assure you that our potty-training regiment will be attempted soon (possibly while I’m home for Christmas break) and that we will not be using Corn and Tomato Pudding as any form of PTT (Potty-Training Tactics) whether it be a reward (ewww… I’m not THAT mean) or threat.
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