A Few Changes Around Here

July 30, 2014

  I've been making a few changes to the blog- have you noticed?  I've taken out the personal names so you'll see our family is now A (myself), D (hubby and daddy), Sky (our big girl), and Fire (our little boy).  I'd appreciate if you stick with this scheme in comments.  We also have an new email address, just for blog traffice: OurCharmedLife(dot)net(at)gmail(dot)come.  We're working towards deidentifying the blog a bit so that I can take it public again.  I've missed sharing our experiences with a wider audience and as we move ahead with the kids' US naturalization and our US adoption, others might benefit from our experiences. 
  Thanks for sticking with us through this slow period.  We're re-engaging in our lives here a bit more now that a move is probably off the table and I'm hoping to do a better job of documenting that here.  Is there anything that you would like to hear more about?  Do you have any questions for us, about life on Kwaj or adoption or anything else that makes up the life of a young family?

N600K Update

July 25, 2014

  I decided to see if I could get an update on the kids' case status from the USCIS website and I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to use and how much information is available.  If you've received your case-receipt email or I-797 form, it will have a receipt number on it (Sky and Fire's started with NBC).  All you have to do is go to USCIS.gov and click on "Check Your Case Status".

  Enter the receipt number in the box and it will bring up your case status (one of ours is pictured below).
  You can also check on processing times for cases like yours.  Click on the drop-down boxes (as shown above) to select the type of case you're filing and where you requested your hearing and it will give you the average processing time for similar cases.  It was great to find out that we're only looking at a 5-6 month wait, since that's the next time we'll probably be heading off-island.

Baby Ballet

July 24, 2014

 Sky took a ballet class from a friend of ours this summer, Ms Michelle.  It was an 8-week beginner ballet class for 4-7 year-olds and Sky loved it.  She loved the clothes, the spinning, the attention from her sweet teacher.  Sky seems to have an innate talent for dance and I hope we can keep encouraging it here. 
  The class was drop-off style so I usually didn't stay after telling Sky goodbye but I hung around for a little bit this time and heard something wonderful, something that makes me so happy that Sky got to take this class from Ms Michelle and makes me hope she can take more.  The first thing she did was have all the girls sit around her in a circle.  Once they were seated and calm, she asked them to repeat the three class rules.  I was expecting to hear something like, "We will listen when the teacher talks" but instead, I heard six little girl voices say, "I am beautiful." and "I will respect and care for myself and the other dancers".  There was one more but I missed it.  How perfect.  How wonderful for Sky and the other girls to hear someone they admire and respect stressing those things to them.  I hope we can continue to have Ms Michelle's influence in Sky's life- she is a wonderful teacher, both for dance and for life.


Paging Dr Internet

July 21, 2014

  Fire got sick last week and the doctors here don't know what it was.  I thought I'd ask all of you about it in case you've seen something like this in your kids.  It went like this:
   Sunday morning: Fire starts showing signs of an ear infection with pulling and digging at both his ears.  We clean them out and give him some pain medicine to help get him through the weekend
  Monday evening: Still having ear infection symptoms with no improvement.  His skin feels warm but he doesn't have a fever (temp is ~99.1).  His lips are starting to crack and he has dry skin around his mouth.  For those of you that have winter, it looks like he's been licking around his mouth, all red and cracking.  Lotion doesn't help.  He screams in pain when we try to clean out his ears that night
  Tuesday morning:  Fire still feels warm but doesn't have a fever.  The skin around his mouth is worse and his skin looks a bit red. He has what appear to be hives on his trunk but they're not itchy.   He cries when I accidently run my fingers over his skin when I put him down (no nails, just my fingers).  I call the hospital and get the earliest appointment available.  The doctor (the same one we've had run-ins with in the past (arrgghhh!), says that he does seem to have an ear infection but that it should clear up on its own.  I'm fine with less antibiotic so I agree.  He doesn't think that the rash around Fire's mouth or the hives are anything special and sends us home.  While at home, Fire's winkie seems to be bothering him when it rubs in his underpants so I put him in a diaper and call a nurse.  They make another appointment in the afternoon that D takes him to.  Same doctor says that his winkie is a little inflamed but again, no big deal.  Send them home.
  That evening, Fire is looking bright red and still feels warm.  The non-itchy hives have spread to his back and upper arms and thighs and his ears are red and so swollen they stick out form his head like dumbo ears.  We run into the hospital administrator here who agrees with me that something's wrong and encourages us to get a second opinion if we feel we need one (that woman is great!  She's been a breath of fresh air into the hospital).  I call the hospital and speak to another doctor.  She is reluctant to see Fire but finally tells us to bring him in.  I feel guilty that I might be wasting her time but something is definitely wrong with my kid.
  The second doctor diagnoses a much more severe ear infection and thinks that Fire might be having a different reaction to the hand, foot, and mouth disease that had been going around.  We are told to keep him home and to bring him in to see her in two days.
 The pictures below were taken on Wednesday.  The skin that had been red on Fire's face had turned dark brown and started to peel and the rash was spreading over his body.  In the second picture, you can see his red and swollen ears.
    Thursday morning:  Fire is still very uncomfortable in his skin.  He can't be outside for more than a few minutes without acting uncomfortable and rubbing his skin.  He doesn't want to be touched hard and want to snuggle but can play on his own indoors. We see the second doctor again and she says that his ear infection isn't clearing up and that she sees some evidence of persistant infection (we get to take him to an audiologist next time we're in the states- yay!).  Because he's got a little peeling on the bottoms of his feet, she diagnosis HFM and says no school until Tuesday.  She recommends keeping his skin moisturized to reduce the inflammation and peeling.
  The picture below was taken on Saturday evening.  You can see how much the peeling had spread on his back.  We'd gone out for a walk and Fire was so uncomfortable in his clothes that I took his shirt off. 

  So what do you think?  A different reaction to hand, foot, and mouth?  The rest of the kids on island that got it had the usual sores in the usual places but none of the Marshallese kids here got them.  Also, Sky never got HFM and when I asked Fire's teachers about this, they said they'd never heard of anything like it.  While researching rashes, I stumbled across fifth disease, also known as parvovirus.  It seemed likely because of the constant low fever and the redness had started on Fire's cheeks matched the "slapcheek" rash that's diagnostic for parvo, but the doctors disagreed because they said other kids would have had it, since it's a catching virus like HFM (coxsackie virus).  A friend suggested that since Fire still so young, his immune system just freaked out about something new.  I think she might have something there since it seems like the rash and peeling were more in-line with an auto-immune reaction.  It's also worth noting that Sky never had any of these symptoms.
  Have you seen something like this in your kids?  Have any guesses as to what Fire might have had?  He's better now, happily with no scarring from the peeling, back at school and excited to see his friends again every day.

Daddy's Home!

July 17, 2014

Coco- NUTS!

July 15, 2014

  I had planned to take the kids to Roi this weekend for the annual Coconut Cup Race (see this post for some background on the race) but with Fire still not feeling his best, we ended up canceling the trip.  To make it up a little bit to the kids, we painted coconuts anyway and then took them out to the lagoon one evening after dinner. 

Sky's is yellow and Fire's is blue.  I spray painted them and then let the kids color on them with permanent marker.  I sprayed them with a clear coat of paint before we took them out for our "race".
Pre-race freezie pops!

Looks like Sky's is winning...

My beautiful island girl!

The Secret I've Been Keeping

July 14, 2014

I haven't been blogging for a while for a few different reasons but the main one was that I didn't feel that I had anything to say.  There was no progress on the adoption or citizenship fronts, and then there was the thing I didn't feel ready to share yet.  I think you'll probably read this and laugh, maybe wonder why we're bothering or why I kept it a secret- I mean, really, the blog is private now so everything's pretty secret anyway, right? 
  Drum roll please... D is in Texas right now for his sixth interview for a job there.  He would really love the work and it would be really nice for him to be excited about his job again.  The technology he would be working with there if does get the job would be top-of-the-line, boundary-pushing stuff and I think he would really enjoy the challenge of that kind of work every day.  He had his (grueling, it sounds like) all-day interview on Friday and was told he might hear something today.  He spent the weekend house-hunting just in case but now Monday is over there in Texas and he still hasn't heard one way or another.
  This wait has really taken its toll on us and I'm having to shift from a future-focused perspective to one that is centered on this day, because I have no control over what the future will hold for us.  It's entirely in someone elses hands whether or not D gets the job, even though I know he did the best he could in the interview.  If he does get the job, it's still not certain that he can accept it because we'll need a salary high enough that the whole family can live on it and he'll need to work out the specifics of a starting day that works with the 90-day notice we're required to give here.  That's so much "if" that I really can't even think about it any more. 
  We'll know or we won't.  Either way, I'm left just putting one foot in front of the other and trying to enjoy the day that I have since that's the only thing that's certain for now.  And that doesn't leave much to blog about. 

Adoption Update

July 12, 2014

  The books are out!!!  We had to wait some notarized forms to arrive through the mail and they took a month to get there, but they are in and the books are out.  I know that it could be a while before someone picks us, and right now it might be better if we waited, but as usual, I'm hopeful that things will go quickly.

N600K Naturalization Update

July 10, 2014

    We're officially in-process for the kids' US citizenship!  I was so excited to get these emails:

 and to see this withdrawl from my bank account:
  The kids' packets had been rejected once before because I had used the wrong versions of the N600K form.  To other applicants: be sure to check your forms expiration date!  Make sure it will be good through to the time USCIS receives your paperwork.  We did received back all the supporting documentation that I'd sent but since it had been checked in it had a ribbon of printing along one edge. I wasn't able to get a clear answer on the phone about if I could resubmit all the same supporting documentation or if I had to provide new ones, so I went ahead and resubmitted the same papers again.  Hopefully we'll know more soon.  
Our Charmed Life. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.