Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Every day is different

I am expecting Sami to be walking any day now. She's standing up by herself in the middle of the room, but won't take a step. She just stands there and looks down at her feet and claps and laughs. Of course I then laugh with her.

Sami really raked in the Hanukkah gifts this year. She received clothes, toys, and books from her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins (and of course from us.) She may not understand that it was a holiday yet, but she definitely knows she has even more stuff to play with now. We also learned that she loves potato latkes, but then again Sami loves all food. We have yet to find something she will not eat. The pediatrician tells me to enjoy it now, because she may become picky later, but as for now, Sami is very far from picky. She amazed everyone last night when we got together with my family to exchange presents, when she pigged out on pizza, lasagna, a garlic roll, potato latkes and ice cream cake.

At home, she is eating and drinking mostly organic now, including organic milk and juice. After learning a couple of months ago about most apple juices containing arsenic, I switched to organic products. And of course, now Steven and I eating more organic food, too. I am a serious "couponer," and save 50 to 60 percent each week. This percentage has gone down a little bit since adding in organic products, but it's worth it knowing we are doing whatever we can in Sami's best interest.

Sami continues to amaze me each day. The truth is that most days I forget that I didn't give birth to her. We are connected in a way that I can't imagine would be any stronger if we shared the same DNA. One look at her beautiful face makes everything better, makes me calmer and seems to give me a sense of purpose.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

13 months

We had a great first night of Hanukkah! The Florida Panthers hockey game tonight was geared toward Jewish families with the theme being "Chanukah on Ice." There were giveaways and holiday music throughout the entire game, and after the first period a rabbi went onto the ice and lit the menorah, while saying the appropriate prayers.

We took Sami with us, of course, and she had a blast. The arena was almost sold out, and filled with families with other young children. The game was exciting, and Sami really seemed to love her first real sporting event.

At 13 months old, Sami is still changing so much every day. And she seems to be learning so much every day. She now says, "hi" and "bye bye," in addition to "mommy" and "daddy" that she has been saying for months. Also, if you count "one, two," she yells out "three!" and whenever she sees a telephone (real or toy) she puts it to her ear and says "hello." She also loves to sing and dance. So many things she does make me laugh, and she is just more beautiful each day, too. (Not that I'm biased or anything.)

Last week, we took her to Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure, for the second time. And just like our first trip, she loved the characters, and seems to not have any fears. (I've added a couple of photos here.)

Work has been busy the past couple of weeks, which is good. I am continuing to have the editor role for a finance-industry trade magazine, and am back to editing the book I began editing last year, as the author has sent the next few chapters finally.

I am looking forward to the rest of this week, celebrating Hanukkah, and bringing in the New Year.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sami's better :)

I am writing at 2:40 a.m. with Sami awake next to me. She is definitely feeling better, however when she was sick she stopped sleeping through the night. It seems that even though she is not sick anymore, the middle-of-the-night waking has become a habit. It's OK though, as I am sure it is temporary, and I am just so happy she is feeling better.

In the morning, we have Mommy & Me class, then I have lots of work to do, so I will be putting lots of toys out so that hopefully Sami will keep busy and let me get some work done. We'll have to see how that goes.

Thanksgiving was great this year. We went to my sister's house to celebrate the holiday, and Sami had a great time playing with her cousins. Thanksgiving is always such a fun time, and always reminds me of all the great people for which I am thankful. I have yet to find a food that Sami will not eat, and Thanksgiving did not prove to have any exceptions. She happily ate turkey, potatoes and vegetables, and even had cake for dessert.

Sami continues to change every day. She is not walking independently yet, but is becoming very fast at "furniture walking," also known as "cruising." Also when she hears music, she loves to dance, and even tries to sing along here and there, which always makes me laugh. And now when a stranger stops us to admire Sami, she looks up at me and if I'm smiling she will look back at the admirer and flash a smile as well. It's almost as though she wants my approval that the stranger is trustworthy enough of a person with whom to share a smile. :)

Somehow I love Sami more each day, and I don't know how that's possible. It's as though my heart is growing each day, filling with more love for her.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Still sick

Sami was back at the doctor today. This was her third visit since last Thursday. Her temperature is now down to just around 100 degrees, but her rash has gotten worse, although it comes and goes at different times of the day. In addition, she is absolutely miserable, crying all day, and at night waking up several times screaming as though someone is being murdered. The pediatrician said it is either a virus, a reaction to the MMR shot, or a combination of both. He said we will probably never know for sure. Either way, the treatment is the same, motrin or tylenol when she seems to be feeling bad, and lots of fluids. She's also still on an antibiotic for her ear. We may have another checkup again later this week.

It's been an exhausting and stressful few days, especially the couple of days when her fever was high reaching almost 105 degrees and worried us. The telephone has been ringing with calls from my family and friends, all asking how Sami is several times each day. Right now she is sleeping, and at a little after 6 p.m. I know that's a bad time for her to be napping (and she's been sleeping since 5 p.m.) but for now I am just grateful she is resting, even if it means she will be awake late at night.

I'm getting a little stir crazy because aside from visits with the doctor, Sami and I have not left the house since last Wednesday. Today I did put her in the stroller and walk her to the park across the street so we could both get some air. I figured the park with its open air was safe, as I do not want to get anyone else sick, and if it's a virus she is contagious until she has a normal temperature for at least one full day.

At 1-year-old, Sami weighs 19 pounds and 7 ounces and is 29 and a quarter inches long. On the chart she is about 15 percent for weight, and 50 percent for height. A big change from the 3 pounds and 9 ounces, and 16 and a quarter inches she was on Nov. 4, 2010, when she wasn't even on the chart. I look back at photos of Sami often, and at amazed at how much she has grown.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sami's sick :(

It's been a long few days!! Sami has been sick with a temperature ranging from 102 to 104.8, and has been to the doctor twice this week, and we almost took her to ER last night when her temperature reached the 104.8.

We were able to get it down to 102 with wet cloths and alternating tylenol and motrin, and took her back to the doctor again this morning. It turns out Sami has 3 different things going on right now. She has a rash as a reaction from the MMR shot she had last week at her 1-year-old checkup, she has a boil behind one ear, which she has been on antibiotics for since Thursday morning, and she has a viral infection of some kind.

Basically we were told to just make sure she is drinking a lot, give her tylenol/motrin as needed and she'll be better in a few days. If she is still getting a high fever by Monday or Tuesday though, she needs to go back to the doctor.

I feel so bad that she is sick, and I myself am getting lightheaded from the lack of sleep over the past three days. But I feel a little more relieved today after being back at the doctor this morning, and when she naps later, I plan to do the same thing.

It's still so hard to believe Sam is 1 year old. With 6 little teeth, she is starting to look more like a toddler and less like a baby already. Her birthday party was really great, and in all we had 58 adults and children at the park to celebrate with us. Sami had a great time diving into the little cake that was just for her.

Sami and I have been keeping busy. We've made a lot of new friends throughout the past several months, and I'm enjoying working from home and taking breaks to meet friends for playdates during the week. It's been a little challenging at times when she wants attention and I'm on deadline, but it's been worth it to have her with me.

Our newest friends include Debra, and her son, Colton, who we met at Mommy & Me. Colton is 14 months old, and his father is in Iraq. He hasn't seen Colton since he is 3 months old, and Debra has been basically a single mother for the past year. Sami and Colton are very mischievous when they are together, and it's so much fun to watch. At times, Debra and I are even embarrassed, while the other children sit so nicely during the parts of the class that are supposed to be quiet, while Sami and Colton take off together and disobey playing together in a corner acting as though they are the only two kids there. They were fast friends, following in their mothers' footsteps.

Another new friend has 2-year-old twins, who they were blessed with after using a surrogate. It's nice to have someone to talk to that also didn't go through pregnancy to become a mother, and we are able to share our stories and truly understand each other.

In all, I've met a lot of new people that I would never have met if it wasn't for being a mom, and I know Sami and I are creating long friendships. Of course, we are lucky enough to have friends I've known for years as well, such as Stacey, and her daughter, Hannah, who is only 5 weeks older than Sami. Those two will be growing up together, and Stacey and I are determined that they will become and remain "BFFs."

I feel truly blessed to be Sami's mother. Even though I have been worried the past few days with her being sick, she truly brings me nothing but joy every day. Sure, there are days where she is crabby and screams all day, but the moments that stand out in my mind are the ones where she laughs and plays, and looks up to make sure I'm still there, smiling to see me there and calling out "Mama."

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sami is 1

Sami is 1 year old today. How is that possible? On one hand, it feels as though she was just born yesterday, but on the other hand, I barely remember my life before her and it's as though she has always been here with us.

This past year has been exhausting, overwhelming and emotional, but it's also brought me more joy than I've ever known before.

On Sunday we are having a big birthday in the park for Sami. We are expecting more than 60 adults and kids.

As for today, we've decided to have more of a private celebration. Tonight, Steven, Sami and I are going to celebrate her birthday together, just the three of us. We have so much for which to be grateful, and are looking forward to spending some alone time with Sami on her first birthday. Don't get me wrong, we are also extremely excited for her big party on Sunday, but in a very different way, we are equally excited for our small family celebration of just us three.

On Thursday night, our niece, Rachel, spent the night. She wanted to be here for a little bit of Sami's first birthday. And as if Sami knew her birthday was approaching, she woke up a few minutes before midnight. As you can see in the picture I've attached, Rachel read her a story to try to help her fall back asleep.

I've also included a few photos from Sami's first Halloween. Anyone that knows us, knows that we love Halloween. But this year's Halloween was by far the best one yet, because we got to share it with Sami.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Almost 1, and changing every day!

I know I've said it before, but I'm going to say it again: Time is going by so quickly. Sami's 1st birthday party is in three weeks from today!! I can't believe in just a few short weeks, my beautiful little girl will be 1 year old.

I've posted a little video today at the bottom of this post, of Sami having a good time in a swing in our local park.

I haven't been writing about it here, but Sami has been going to two physical therapists since August, after being diagnosed with plagiocephally and torticollis. Torticollis is having weak neck muscles and plagiocephally is when a child develops a flat area on his or her head. Usually the plagio is caused by the torticollis because a baby with a weak neck tends to lean on one side of the head a lot more often than the other side, which causes a flat area to form. For those of you that have seen babies with helmets around town, that's usually the reason. The helmets fix the head shape, making a perfectly round head. We were lucky that Sami's case was not severe enough to warrant a helmet, so she has been going having two types of physical therapy: one to work on her neck muscles and one that does cranial-sacral therapy to help even out the shape of her head. Sami's case was one that nobody noticed, and I didn't even notice until it was pointed out to me by our pediatrician. (We have since switched pediatricians due to the poor care she was given, but I'll write about that another time.)

Anyway, last week the neck therapist, who Sami was seeing weekly, said that she is doing so well that he wants to see her one more time in a month just to make sure she still doing great, and if she is, he is going to discharge her from therapy. The doctor who is doing cranialsacral therapy on Sami is also not seeing her again for a few weeks, and is expecting to discharge her at that time, too!! I've been doing stretches and exercises with Sami several times a day that the therapist suggested, and it seems to really have done the trick! I couldn't be happier!!

Lately, Sami has really been keeping me on my toes! She is crawling so quickly that sometimes you have to jog a bit to catch up to her! And she is furniture walking, also called cruising, now. She's tried to let go a few times, but when she does that she usually falls, and sadly has a couple of bruises from our tile floor to prove it.

Meanwhile, I am getting excited for her 1st birthday party, and at last count am expecting close to 50 people (adults and kids combined). We rented a pavilion at a park that has a great playground and a very large open field area, so it should be a good time, as long as the weather is good that day.

I still think about Elizabeth, and wonder where she went. I haven't spoken to her since January. I hope where ever she is, she is doing well. I feel forever connected to her, and despite her not making the best choices throughout her life, I will always be beyond grateful to her. In fact, "grateful," feels like such a weak word to describe it. I have this beautiful little girl who makes me happy every day. I feel as though I have a new purpose in my life I never knew existed. Things that seemed so important to me before, seem trivial now. The most important thing now is to make sure that Sami is happy and healthy every day.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Busy, busy baby

It's 2 a.m. and I've now been awake for 20 hours, as Sami woke me up at 6 a.m. yesterday morning. I should be exhausted, but for some reason, I'm not. So I did some work, then watched a little TV, but yet I am still awake.

Another reason I should be exhausted right now is how busy Sami keeps us. She is now "furniture walking," meaning she is walking holding on to things. It's cute to watch but she falls sometimes so we have to keep a close eye on her. She is so busy, and just doesn't want to sit still. No matter where you put her down, she crawls to the closest thing she finds, pulls herself up, and takes small steps toward the next thing she sees, all while strategically holding on as she moves. If she walks with a toy in one of her hands and then drops the toy, she is able to bend down, pick the toy up, and then continue on her journey.

We also had to break down and buy a new high chair this weekend. The one we had been using was passed along to us by a friend, and the straps were missing. It had been working out fine, until the past week or so when Sami realized she could stand up in her high chair since she was not strapped in. She would stand up to eat, leaning over to pick each bite off of her tray. We'd keep putting her back to a sitting position, but she always got right back up. Then the kicker came when she realized she could actually climb out of her highchair by climbing out of the chair onto the tray.

So in other words, Sami is very busy, which in turn keeps us very busy. But I'm not complaining honestly. I love to watch her play, and she is just such a character. She makes me laugh all the time. And it's contagious because when she laughs, I laugh, and when I laugh, she laughs, which of course makes me laugh harder.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Feeling a bit emotional

Sami is becoming less like a baby and more like a little girl. It seems like it is happening all of the sudden. Everywhere we put her, she finds a way to stand up. She stands up in her crib, in the pack and play, even in her high chair! She crawls to me and pulls herself up to standing. She's also grown a lot more hair, and it seems like it all happened over night.

Of course these are all good things, and I am happy she is healthy and growing. But I admit it also makes me a little sad because I feel like she is growing up way too quickly. I don't know where the past 10 months have gone. It feels like it was just yesterday when I was so distraught missing her while she spent two weeks in the NICU after she was born.

She is just becoming so independent. She doesn't even want me to feed her so much anymore. She prefers for me to give her something to eat on her high chair tray that she can feed herself. She eats eggs, potatoes, cheese, chicken, waffles, pancakes, etc. She really loves all food.

Sometimes I can just sit and watch her play for hours. It makes me so happy when she is happy.

On Saturday I wasn't feeling well (after having a root canal on Friday), and was pretty much resting all day. When I finally felt better and got up and went over to play with her, she looked up at me excitedly and with a smile said "momma momma!" My heart just melted at that moment.

Monday, September 5, 2011

10 months old

Sami is 10 months old. It's so hard to believe. We are already starting to think about what kind of party we are going to have for her 1st birthday. How in the world is she almost 1 year old already? Time is going by way too quickly.

It's been almost one month since I've last blogged, so I've got a lot of catching up to do. Last week we took Sami to Orlando to visit Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. We go there every August for our anniversary, and this year was even more special than previous years, because we had Sami with us. She met a ton of characters, and the truth is that I am not sure if Sami liked the characters better or if the characters liked her better! She had no fear, and smiled with delight every time she was approached by a character. I've attached two photos here, one with Sami and Marilyn Monroe, and one with Sami and Thing 1 and Thing 2. Sami also was permitted to go on a few rides, and really loved those, too. Watching her smile and listening to her laugh made me feel so great.

Sami has been doing a lot of smiling and laughing lately. Our dogs, Penny and Java, have been making her crack up lately. She's been really playing with them, and she laughs so hard when they run around her and get silly.

Today we brought Sami to the Museum of Science and Discovery. I think it would have been a little more fun for her if she was walking, but she still seemed to enjoy herself, and Steven and I had a great time even though the museum is really geared toward kids. In fact, we probably had more fun than Sami did.

Sami bring so much happiness to my life. I never knew you could love someone this much. Making sure she is healthy and happy are becoming the most important goals for me, and watching her smile warms my heart like nothing I can explain. She continues to amaze me each and every day.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

9 months old already

Sami had her 9-month check-up yesterday. Time is just flying by and it's hard to believe in just three short months, she will be 1 year old!

Sami weighs 17 pounds and is 28 inches tall. She is now in the 20th percentile for weight, and in the 75th percentile for height! According to the pediatrician, this means she is tall and a little underweight. but is doing fantastic. And at the pediatrician's office, Sami got her ears pierced today. They are absolutely adorable!

We can now begin to try feed Sami dairy products to see how she reacts. She will be starting with yogurt, and then we will go from there. If dairy agrees with her we can then try regular formula, instead of the hypoallergenic one she has been on for months. This would be better because it's easier to find, and half the price!

Every day brings something new. She changes so much all the time, but what doesn't stop changing is how much happiness she continues to bring to my life.

Friday, July 29, 2011

It's official!

Samantha Leah officially became ours on July 8. Of course she was already ours in every sense of the word, but now it's legal and nobody can take her away from us--a fear I lived with every day.

Our moment at court was exactly that: "a moment." We got all dressed up for our court date, nervous and excited for the process to be finalized at last. We waited for a little while before Steven, Sami and I, and our attorney, were invited into the judge's chambers. I honestly do not think the judge even looked at us. We were asked a few very quick questions, and he pounded his gavel and it was done. The whole thing took less than five minutes. Our attorney explained to us afterward that by the time it gets to the judge, all the work has been done, and it's just a formality for him to finalize the adoption. But I still feel that judge should understand what a big moment it is for people like us, and show a little emotion.

Anyway, we didn't let it ruin our day. After court, Steven, Sami and I went out to lunch near the beach to celebrate together. Steven apologized to Sami for giving her a last name she will be forever spelling to people. And as for me, well I just couldn't stop hugging and kissing Sami all day long.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Dear Time: Please Slow Down!!

It's been a while since I've written, but not because there hasn't been anything to write about! So much has happened in the past couple of weeks.

What I am most excited about is that we finally have a date for the adoption finalization. On Friday, July 8, Steven, Sami and I, along with our attorney, will be going in front of a judge to officially welcome Sami as our own. Of course, she is already ours, in every sense of the word. But now it will be legal!! It's such a relief, and I can't wait until the judge makes it official!

This week also brought two teeth for Sami! The first one broke through her gums on Wednesday, and the second one on Friday. They aren't much more than sharp white dots, but they're there!

And of course, two weeks ago, Sami had her baby-naming ceremony in the synagogue. I am so happy that all of her aunts and uncles, and most of her cousins, in addition to three grandparents, a great-grandmother and several of our friends were here to share it with us. The weekend couldn't have been better. The only bad part of the weekend was saying goodbye to her aunts, uncles and cousins who do not live nearby.

As for the naming itself, it was very emotional to hear Sami being named after my father, and I hope he was there in spirit at temple with us. I hope he is proud, and I hope Sami one day understands what a great man she is named after. Time goes by so quickly, and it's hard to believe that Sami will be 8 months old on Monday. There are so many moments when I say that I wish I could freeze time, and just hold onto that moment forever.

Friday, June 10, 2011

latest checkup, and plans for next weekend!

On Monday, Sami had her 7-month check-up. She weighs 15 pounds and is 26 inches long. On the chart, she is 20 percent in weight, and 50 percent in height now! The pediatrician said that Sami is doing extremely well, and that looking at her now you'd never know she was such a tiny preemie when she was born. She is sitting up, and she is now holding her own bottle. Steven even lowered her crib this week. I feel like she is growing up already!! Sami can now eat anything in Stage 2 except for dairy products (due to her reflux) or anything I cook if it's able to be mashed or pureed. (Her only rules now for food are no dairy, nothing that ends in the word "berry," and nothing spicy.) Sami is chewing on her fingers, and is a drooling machine, but there is still not a tooth in sight.

We are getting excited for next weekend for Sami's baby naming! We have a lot of family coming into town and we are thrilled to get to see everyone, and for everyone to meet Sami! We are trying to work out how to coordinate our time to be able to spend as much time as possible with everyone.

So far, our tentative plan is:

Thursday night: to drive close to where Steven's parents, brother and sister-in-law and our niece and nephew will be staying to meet them for dinner, if Steven is able to skip his basketball game that night. He is now waiting to hear how many players the team will have that night.

Friday night: we are having a big crowd of about 30 people over for dinner at our house, for pizza, pasta, salad, etc.

Saturday morning and afternoon: the big day--Sami's baby naming! Services start at 9 a.m., and Steven, Sami and I will be called up to open the Ark early in the service. Then a little later in the service we will all be called up again for the baby naming. Services are long on Saturday, ending a little bit before noon, and then we are having a luncheon after temple for our about-40 guests.

Saturday evening: we are planning to meet my sister, brother-in-law and niece for dinner.

Sunday: we still haven't worked out the details, but are hoping to find a way to see everyone that day--perhaps some people during the day and some in the evening.

It's going to be a busy weekend, which I am sure will go by way too quickly.

I am really so excited for Sami to see everyone. I know she will have a fantastic time being the star of the weekend, and watching her smile will be all I need for next weekend to be considered a success to me. Just thinking about her now safe and happy sleeping in her crib literally makes me feel warm inside.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A new milestone!

Sami started sitting up independently today! For some reason, it almost made me cry. Everything she does amazes me, and I could sit and watch her for hours without getting bored.

Today we went to a birthday party in the park. The birthday girl was turning 1 year old, and the party was beautiful. The parents went all out, and I think it was the fanciest party-in-the-park we have ever seen. The only con was how hot it was. But we had a great time, and are planning a night to go out with the birthday girl and her parents. Steven and I really like both of them a lot.

Tomorrow morning Sami is having a check-up, and will most likely be getting shots. Hopefully she won't be too miserable afterward. I hate it when she isn't feeling well. Part of me though is looking forward to her doctor's appointment, so I can find out how she is doing, how much she weighs, etc.

I still can't believe that Sami is 7 months old already. It feels like just yesterday when I sat with her in the hospital, waiting until she was big enough to come home. Those two weeks felt like an eternity, and my heart felt torn every time I had to leave her side. Now, 7 months later, Sami and I are inseparable, and I feel as though everything is just as it should be. :)

7 months old already!

Today Sami celebrated her 7-month birthday in style. She went to her first concert!

En Vogue was giving a free outdoor concert tonight about 30 minutes from our house, so we decided to go. The concert was a lot of fun, and it was packed with people, especially families with young kids, so we fit right in! We even met a couple with a huge dog--half great dane and have mastiff--and Sami had no fear at all. She is growing up in a house that is also home to two dogs and two cats, and she already seems to be completely comfortable around animals.

It's hard to believe that Sami is already 7 months old. I don't know where the time is going. On Monday, she has a doctor's appointment, and I am curious to find out what she now weighs.

On Sunday, we are going to another birthday party for one of Sami's new friends, who is turning 1 year old. The party is in the afternoon in the park. Steven and I are making new friends, too, thanks to Sami. We both really like the birthday girl's parents. They are very sweet and very energetic. Steven calls them the "energy couple." We also know some other families who will be at the party. It should be a really nice afternoon.

Today Sami tried on her new dress that she will be wearing to her baby naming service. It is so cute, and has a couple of crinoline layers, so it really poofs out on the bottom of the dress. It looks so dressy on her, as though she is going to a wedding. I am planning on scheduling us to have family portraits taken, with Sami wearing her new dress. Of course, I need to plan this soon, because who knows how fast it will be before her new dress is already too small. She is growing so quickly!!

I am trying hard to hold on to every memory, and to create photographs in my mind every day. I want to always remember every moment with Sami, as each day brings something new.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The cold that just wont leave

Sami and I are continuing to pass this cold back and forth. I originally took Zicam and was rid of my cold within a couple of days. Or so I thought. One day after I finished taking the Zicam, I got the cold anyway, but it was really mild. I'm convinced that all the Zicam did was put the cold off a few days. Anyone have any experience taking Zicam? By Wednesday it was completely gone. However last night it came back in full force, and I am sneezing, coughing, am very congested and have that "yuck" feeling you get with a bad cold.

Sami, who was finally all better as of Thursday morning, woke up this morning, just one day later, all congested again, too! I guess when you spend 24/7 together you just pass things back and forth between each other! She was supposed to go to the doctor this past Wednesday for a few more shots she still needs, along with a check-up. However, because they won't give her shots if she is sick, I rescheduled it for this coming Monday. Little did I know that she'd get the cold back, too. At this point I am still going to take her to the doctor on Monday though. Either she will be getting her shots, or just be getting a check-up, depending on the doctor's suggestion based on her cold.

With the baby-naming only two weeks away, I hope that all of us are cold-free by then!

This week one of the moms I made friends with from the Mom's Club gave Sami her son's exersaucer. He is almost 2 years old, and she is slowly getting rid of some of his "baby" things. She also gave us a changing table. We already have a white changing table upstairs in Sami's room, but we decided to accept the wood one from Ashley anyway, and we put it downstairs so that we can have a changing station downstairs. And on the extra shelves we now have a place to keep Sami's toys that we keep downstairs. Our house has been taken over by baby items! Downstairs we have a pack-and-play, a swing, an exersaucer, and activity mat, not to mention lots of toys and and books! Sami's bedroom also has lots of toys of stuffed animals, tons of books, and her bouncer chair. Books are big in our house, and I read to Sami every day.

On our one healthy day this week, Sami and I went to a playdate at a place called My Gym. It turned out that Sami was too young to do any of the activities they had there, but she had fun watching all of the other kids play.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

It's going to be a long Saturday!

It's going to be a long day!

Sami fell asleep around 7 p.m. on Friday evening, after two hours of crying and screaming. She and I have colds and she was miserable most of the day. 7 p.m. is very early for Sami to go to sleep so I thought she would just nap for a little while, but she kept on sleeping. I tossed around the idea of waking her up around 10 or 11 and giving her a bottle, but since she looked so peaceful, and hadn't been feeling well, I decided to just let her sleep. Now I'm thinking that might have been a mistake, because now it's 4 am. and Sami is wide awake. She thinks it is morning and time to start the day and wants to play! I held her and played with her for a little while, and I was just able to get her to keep herself occupied playing on her activity mat with toys all around her, but I know that will only last so long and she will want more human interaction soon. It's going to be a long day, especially because I have the final proof of the magazine due on Sunday morning, and also have to finish editing the appendix for the author's book this weekend. I imagine I will be doing this on very little sleep, while taking care of Sami, who has her hours totally mixed up now.

The house is quiet, and Sami is playing happily (while sneezing often) and Penny is dozing on the couching lightly snoring. Though I'm tired, and stressed at the idea of balancing working and taking care of Sami on very litle sleep, I'm at peace as I watch her play. Yes she has a cold, but she is safe and happy and healthy. It makes the lack of sleep, the challenging schedule and everything else all worth it. I would be happy to stop time in this moment, watching my beautiful daughter smiling.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sami's first party

Sami and I both have colds, so we have both been a little miserable the past couple of days. We haven't left the house since Monday when we met my mom and niece, Lindsey, for lunch.

Work has been going well, and is continuing to keep me busy.

Sami also received her first invitation to a birthday party of someone who wasn't a relative. Sami made a friend with a little girl named Sienna, who is one week older than her, at the Mom's Club I joined. (I've also made friends with her mother.) Sienna has an older sister who just turned 2 years old, and we were invited to her birthday party. There were a few babies there, but most of the kids were around 2 years old. But that didn't stop Sami from having a great time. And she had so much fun playing at the party, that she wore herself out and slept through the last 20 minutes of the party. (I've attached photos here.)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Oy - Sami is a Jew :)

So Sami is officially Jewish. The morning went really well. I woke Sami up early, and my mom, my sister, Glenda, and our niece, Rachel, came to our house around 7:20 a.m. By 7:30 a.m. we were in the car on our way to the beach. Traffic was terrible, and it took us a full hour to get there. When we arrived, there were a lot of families already gathered together awaiting their big day.

Sami was the first one converted. She was in very good spirits all morning, happy to see her grandmother, aunt and cousin so early in the morning. She had no idea what was coming. She soon learned. I carried her into the water. The rabbi advised me to immerse her completely under water one time, take her out and then he would say a few prayers. After that I was to immerse her two more times. He said that if I blew on her face just before I dunked her in the water, she would hold her breath. So after the first time, she came out screaming and crying. I felt terrible, and after I finally got her calmed down, it was of course time to dunk her two more times. After those two times, she actually didn't cry, just looked at me stunned, as if to say "I can't believe you just did that to me again!"

After that, Steven held Sami for a few minutes while I helped a woman who was converting to Judaism by holding her bathing suit and standing behind her while she went under the water three times. Her husband is Jewish, and their two children are being raised Jewish.

Then, while the rabbi moved on to convert all of the other people who were there waiting, I took Sami to the car and got her dressed. We came back by the beach, where Sami had her baby-naming ceremony. When the rabbi announced Sami's Hebrew name as Schmuela Leah, I began to cry, thinking of my father as she was named after him. I thought about how much he would have loved to be there, and how much I miss him. I hope he was there watching, but even if he was, it's not the same. I am proud that Sami will carry his name. This weekend I plan to take Sami to the cemetery.

So everything I was so nervous about is all over. The rest of the day I spent working while Sami was napping. She slept much more than usual today, maybe because I woke her so early and she had such a busy morning. So I was able to get a little more work done than usual. And any time she was awake, I spent holding her and kissing her, reliving this morning's ceremony. My heart is filled with love today, for Sami and for my father, who I know was there in spirit with us.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Awake with nerves for the morning

It's been more than a week since I've last written here. Things have been going really well.

Last week, two people stopped me and said that Sami looked a lot like me! Then that same day, a woman said I looked familiar and was trying to place me. Then she said that her first guess would have been that maybe I was friends with her daughter when I was in high school, but that she was sure her daughter, who is in her 30s, was much older than me. What a great day that was!

Last week was also a big week for family. My sister, Norma, who lives in Texas, became the first member of my family to get her master's degree! We are all so proud of her. And my niece, Lindsey, just returned from spending 10 days in Israel as part of the birthright trip, whose mission is to ensure that every Jewish person visits Israel, so they provide free trips to students up to age 26. I have been to Israel twice, and hope one day to visit there again one day, with Steven and Sami. I would love for them to experience it; there are no words to truly explain being there.

Work has been busy for me, which is good. Sami is doing really well. It's so hard to believe that she is 6-and-a-half months old already. I do not know where the time is going.

Right now, it's after 1 a.m., and although I am so tired, I cannot sleep, even though I need to be up by 6 a.m. I have a huge case of the nerves because Sami is being converted at 8:30 a.m. at the ocean. I will be immersing her in the water three times, while the rabbi recites the prayers. Following her conversion, she will be given her Hebrew name. (We will be repeating the naming again in June at the synagogue.) It's ironic that she will officially be given her Hebrew name, before she officially has her English name. Until the adoption is finalized, her legal name is still "Baby Girl." But after tomorrow, her Hebrew name will be Shmuela Leah, named after my father, whose Hebrew name was Shmuel.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The perfect first Mother's Day & update

Yesterday was the perfect day. I couldn't have asked for a better first Mother's Day.

Starting at around noon, we had family come over for lunch. We got bagels, lox and cream cheese, and I made tuna salad, egg salad and pasta salad. And my sister and brother-in-law, brother and mom showed up with some great desserts. The house was full of family including my mom, my sister Glenda and "brother"-in-law Jay, niece Rachel, brother Michael and niece Sydney and nephew Aaron, and Steven's grandmother and Aunt Ruthie. It was really a full house. Unfortunately, Sydney and Aaron didn't stay too long because they are terribly afraid of our two dogs, Penny and Java, even though they are harmless, so Michael drove them home, and came back on his own. The last guest left around 9 p.m. Spending the day with family was exactly what I wanted. It was so nice to just spend a relaxing day with everyone, talking, laughing, eating and watching Rachel play with Sami, who was of course the center of attention.

Steven got me one of my favorite perfumes, in addition to the little girl pendant I picked out, which I wanted ever since I knew we were going to be having a little girl. He also got me beautiful roses. I felt very spoiled. :)

Next Wednesday on May 18, Sami is going to be converted to Judaism. She will be dipped in the ocean three times, followed by the rabbi saying a prayer. She will also be officially given her Hebrew name that morning, although we will be repeating that part on June 18 during synagogue services when family and friends can be there to watch, even though we learned that her actual naming will be at the ocean when she is converted. When the rabbi confirmed the conversion with us on Friday, we also learned that we are permitted to have a few people with us at the conversion, and my mother and sister are planning to join us. We know we can't ask out-of-town family to travel twice in two months; we are just so happy that so many people will be here on June 18th to join us for the naming in the synagogue.

The conversion ceremony should be very interesting. We had picked out a bathing suit for Sami to wear, but the rabbi informed me on Friday that Sami needs to be dipped in the ocean exactly as "God made her." Sami will be tagging along with a large group of people, mainly adults, who had taken Judaism courses planning to covert to Judaism. Sami will be converted first, before the group. From what I understand, the adults will be converted in pairs, with a towel held in front of them, as they must go under water nude, as well. It should be a sight to see!

This week is a busy one, as I am moving along editing an author's book, and getting more involved getting the next issue of my magazine completed. Steven is also working hard, as usual. We are also making the final arrangements on the baby naming by tomorrow, as far as a lunch for our guests after the service.

On Friday, I spoke to our attorney and although we hoped to have the adoption finalized in May, it looks like it wont be until at least sometime in June. The attorney reminds me that we have nothing to worry about, and it's just a matter of "when," not a matter of "if," but it still weighs heavy on me, and I just wish it was official already.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

six months old already

It's so hard for me to believe that Sami turned 6 months old today. Time is already flying by way too quickly. I feel as though I could stare at her face 24 hours a day, sometimes not even needing to sleep. I am so in love with her.

This Sunday will be my first Mother's Day! How exciting! We are having family over on Sunday for lunch, including my mother, my sister, brother-in-law, my brother, two nieces and two nephews, Steven's grandmother, and Steven's aunt. Last Mother's Day we had family over also, but this year feels even more special, because Sami is here.

Sami is doing so well. She is so close to crawling now, eating so many foods, smiling and laughing and interacting, and reaching for toys to play with (it's already obvious that she is right-handed.)

As for me, I am surprised how much I am enjoying my newest gig as editor of a business magazine. The publisher has pretty much handed it over to me, as though it is my baby. I am talking often with the writers and art designer, and really feel as though I am in my element once again. I am also still editing a book for a real estate developer who has written a 300-page text about becoming an entrepreneur. It's interesting at times, yet boring at other times, but on a whole I'm enjoying that work, too.

It's also been a great time in news for me, between watching everything I could find about the royal wedding (I became a bit obsessed with it) to then becoming glued to the news about Osama Bin Laden. I am a news junkie, so this is also keeping my mind occupied.

Sami continues to sleep well most nights, and naps very little during the day. My mother has come over a few times recently to watch her for a little while during the day so that I could be available for work-related conference telephone calls. It's been a huge help.

Last night, Sami did the oddest thing. I woke up at 5 a.m. to the sound of her "talking" and laughing. I didn't want to go into her room because I knew if she saw me she'd then start to cry to be picked up, and she sounded happy so I let her be and just listened by her door. She was laughing and talking off and on until 7 a.m. I'd like to believe that someone was in her room visiting with her, perhaps my father. She then fell asleep peacefully for a little while and then cried that it was time for her to get up around 7:30 a.m. It was one of her shorter nights of sleep, considering she didn't even fall asleep until almost 10:30 p.m. that night.

On a lighter note, Sami has a new habit. Spitting. I'm not kidding. I'm not sure where she learned to do this but she collects her saliva, and spits at us now making this loud spitting sound. And then she laughs. I am trying not to laugh when she does it, and I am telling her to stop. But it's not working out so well. She also is starting to drop her rattle, let me pick it up and hand it to her, then drop it again, let me pick it up again, etc. etc. etc. You see where this is going. :)

This week, I am hoping to confirm a date for Sami's baby naming. I am so excited about the visits from the family members that have not yet gotten to meet Sami. My sister, brother-in-law and niece are driving here from Texas, and Steven's parents, and hopefully Steven's brother, our sister-in-law and our niece and nephew will also all be coming from North Carolina. I am looking forward to spending time with everyone.

We are also still anxiously awaiting for a court date to have the adoption finalized. I will feel a great deal of relief when that finally takes place. It's still a huge weight on my shoulders waiting for it to be official.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Growing up already

It's been a long week but Passover will finally be over Tuesday evening, and we are looking very forward to having a meal that does not revolve around matza. This year though, it honestly didn't feel as rough as previous years felt, and I tried to cook things for dinners, and pack meals for lunches, that made us feel as though we weren't eating "Passover food."

Every day Sami's habits change. Her newest thing is having an ounce of formula, then suddenly not wanting any more, and then wanting another ounce a half hour later. This goes on throughout the day and evening, and I'm starting to feel like I'm not doing much aside from feeding her. I don't mind feeding her and holding her all day and night (in fact, I'll admit that I love it) but I have work to do and some days it's very challenging. I'm taking over the business magazine next week, and have finally received the first three chapters from the author whose book I am editing, so I do have a lot to do. If things become too difficult and if I'm making enough money to warrant it, we are considering trying to find a college student to come over here and there for a few hours at a time during the day to watch Sami while I am home working. I wouldn't be leaving her alone with the "mother's helper," as I would just be in another room in the house working, so I think I'd feel comfortable with it. Anyway, it's just an idea and it's not happening yet. It's just an idea we have talked about a couple of times.

Most nights Sami is sleeping through the night, but she still has some nights where she doesn't sleep much through the night. I complain of being tired from my lack of sleep, but every smile from Sami makes it all worth it. She truly is our world. I already worry about what will happen when it's time for her to go school and how much I will miss her. I think my separation anxiety will be much worse than Sami's!

Sami's getting so big, and I've recently put away the clothes she has outgrown. I was looking at her preemie-size clothing the other day and it's hard to believe she was so small that even those were too big. It's hard to believe that our 12-pound little girl was that small. She is growing so quickly, and although I know that's a great thing, I have to admit that it makes me a little sad to see her grow so fast. Yes, I know she isn't even six months old yet, but I'm already having visions of her growing up and going away to college!

This past week, Sami started using a high chair! I've attached a photo. (I've also attached a couple of photos from the first night of Passover, including a photo of Sami with two of her cousins, Rachel and Sydney.) She gets excited when I put her in the high chair, because she knows it means she will be eating soon. She seems to really love eating, and eats cereal every morning, and a fruit and/or vegetable in the evening, with bottles in between of course.

In addition to working, Sami and I also have a few play dates this week. Sami loves seeing other children, especially babies, and cries after we say goodbye to them. But watching her laugh and smile when she sees the other babies is so amazing and warms my heart. While she still screams and cries a lot some days, she generally is a very happy baby, and it's very easy to get her to laugh and smile. And those laughs and smiles may just be the best things I've ever heard and seen in my life.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Sami's doctor appointment today went really well. She weighs 12 pounds 7 ounces and is 25 inches long. She is still only in the 10th percentile for weight, but she is now in the 50th percentile for height! The pediatrician said that Sami is "long and slender." Everything else was great as usual, and she is going to continue trying new Stage 1 foods. At her six-month check-up she will be able to start Stage 2 foods.

We also now have tentative dates for both the conversion and baby naming for Sami. The conversion will mostly likely be on a weekday in the middle of May, early in the morning at the beach. This will be more of a private ceremony with just Steven, Sami and me. We are tentatively planning the baby naming for either June 17 or June 18. We originally had planned to have a party for Sami, too, but now we are leaning toward just sponsoring the oneg, which is when after the service the congregants gather together for dessert and wine in another room at the synagogue if we do it on Friday night, or just having a light lunch if we do it on Saturday morning. We are hoping to confirm our plans after Passover.

We are still waiting for a date for the adoption to be finalized, and this is still always on our minds. We are expecting it to take place sometime in May, but our rabbi said that since we are already Sami's legal guardians, it is OK to plan a conversion and a baby naming, since we were so anxious to do so. I am planning on calling our attorney on Friday to see if there is any update on the adoption finalization.

Sami continues to bring us happiness every day. I barely remember what our lives were like before she was here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Busy, but happy

Sami's next doctor appointment is early Thursday morning. I scheduled her appointment for 8:30 a.m. this month, since it's the doctor's first appointment of the day. When I go later in the day, there always winds up being a very long wait, so I'm hoping to avoid that this month. I'm excited to find out what Sami weighs and how tall she is this month. I can't believe she is almost 5-and-a-half months old already! I'm already getting a little sad when I think about how fast she is growing up, and Steven keeps saying that I'm going to be a complete wreck when she starts school one day. I'm sure he is right.

Last night, Sami slept almost 12 hours! She had stopped sleeping through the night again, so it was shocking how much she slept last night. Of course I didn't sleep as well as her because I kept checking on her to make she was OK with as soundly as she was sleeping.

I've been spending a lot of time making our kitchen a kosher kitchen. I have been working this week on separating our kitchen (dishes, silverware, pots and pans, etc.) by meat and dairy. We had already been having only kosher food in our house for about a month, but I hadn't separated our dishes. I'm determined to finish that this week, before Passover begins. And following Passover, we will continue to have a kosher home. Today I went back up to the kosher market in Boca, and bought the rest of the things we need for Passover, and kosher chicken, turkey, etc. I think I will be going to the kosher market about twice a month throughout the year. Luckily, there are also a couple of grocery stores nearby that have a decent kosher departments.

Next week I am officially starting the editor position at the business trade magazine, in addition to doing my other freelance work. Steven is continuing to work all day at his regular job, and coming home at night working on freelance work he has been getting. We are busy and tired, but we are happy. :) And more importantly, Sam is happy, too.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Our bedrooms feel miles apart

It's almost 1 a.m. on Sunday night/Monday morning. I'm wide awake because our bedroom feels extremely lonely. Tonight Sami fell asleep on the couch and I put her into her crib in her room instead of in her bassinet in our bedroom. I do not know if she will make it there all night, but I am giving it a try. Though her room is very close to ours, I still have the baby monitor on at full volume on my nightstand, and I have already been in her room several times to make sure she is OK. I know this sounds crazy, but I miss her. Not having her here by my side is a huge step, not just for Sami, but also for me.

Another reason I am not expecting her to make it in there all night, is that Sami has stopped sleeping through the night. We had a week or two in which she was sleeping between eight and 10 hours each night, and then suddenly she stopped sleeping through the night.

Last Wednesday night, we had another big step. Steven and I went out to dinner alone for the first time since Sami was born more than 5 months ago. My mom offered to watch her and although I knew it would be very tough for me to leave her, I reluctantly agreed. Steven said it would be good for us, and for her, and I knew he was right. We had a nice evening, even though I missed her terribly and called my mother several times during dinner to make sure Sami was OK. On my last telephone call to her on my way home, my mother, who hasn't taken care of an infant in a very long time, admitted to me that earlier she changed Sami's diaper, and couldn't find the tabs and therefore couldn't figure out how to fasten the diaper. So, she Scotch-taped the diaper closed!! It was very comical when we got back to my mother's house and I checked out my mother's handy-work. The diaper was on backward, which is why my mother could not locate the tabs, and it was very loose around Sami's waist, most likely due to the fact that the Scotch tape was not strong enough to hold the diaper tightly closed. After that I gave my mother a lesson diapering. We had a good laugh, of course at her expense. LOL.

Also this past week, Sami got to meet my cousin Charlie, who was visiting from New York. Charlie fell for Sami the way almost everyone else does, and insisted on holding her on his lap throughout our entire dinner. Although we do not get to see my cousins often, whenever we are together, it's as though we were just together yesterday. I wish we could see each other a lot more often.

As you can see, I've posted two photos to tonight's blog post: one of my cousin Charlie holding Sami (dressed in her new Florida Marlins' outfit,) and one that Steven took after Sami pigged out on baby green beans and then a bottle and then proceeded to pass out on top of me. I hope you enjoy the photos.

I expect this week to be a busy one, between work, a few play-dates, and getting the kitchen ready for Passover, which begins next Monday night. Sami also has a check-up, along with a few shots, this week. I am looking forward to finding out how much she is has grown. She has definitely had a big growth spurt since her last appointment one month ago.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

5 months

It's hard to believe that Sami turned 5 months old on Monday. It feels like just yesterday when she was born, and had to stay in the hospital for two weeks. I remember how much I missed her then when I couldn't be there, although I spent as much time as possible at the hospital holding her. Those two weeks felt like a lifetime, waiting to be able to bring her home with us where I already knew she belonged.

It's a relief to know that Elizabeth's parental rights have been officially terminated, but we are still anxiously waiting to be notified about the court date to finalize the adoption. I know it will be at least a month from now, possibly longer, but I am so happy to see the light at the end of this tunnel of waiting for Sami to officially be our daughter.

When I was talking with Elizabeth often, I was using a pre-paid cellular phone to keep our home number and my real cell phone number private. I had been renewing the phone every month, even though it's been since December since I have spoken to Elizabeth. I tried to call her over the weekend, but her phone number now belongs to a guy named Jason. So because today was the day to renew once again, I called our attorney yesterday to get her opinion on if she thought it was OK for me to not renew the phone, especially now that Elizabeth's rights have officially been terminated. The attorney said she thought it was fine, especially since it has been so long since either one of us have heard from Elizabeth. She said that if Elizabeth did try to reach me, as she is entitled to photos and news about Sami if she requests them, she would let me know. At that point either all of the communication could be done through the attorney and Elizabeth, with me passing on information to the attorney for her to pass to Elizabeth, or I could then decide to get another phone and communicate directly with Elizabeth if I prefer.

So after hearing the advice from our attorney, I replied that since Elizabeth's rights were terminated and she couldn't change her mind now, I was going to cancel the phone. She agreed, but then replied with "After all, you don't want to pay for the phone for another year!" I inquired what she meant by that, and she informed me that Elizabeth has one year to appeal the adoption. I was upset with the attorney as this was the first I had heard of this. She said that Elizabeth will probably never even request a photo of Sami, let alone hire an attorney and try to appeal the adoption. Still, it was a bit startling and upsetting to hear, and my telephone call to Steven confirmed that the attorney had never mentioned this before to us at any of our meetings, nor was it mentioned in the contract. I did even more research after that, and learned that it is almost impossible for Elizabeth to appeal the adoption after if it is finalized; she basically would have to prove that she was coerced to give her baby up for adoption. I have decided to put the thought out of my mind, otherwise I'll be spending another year in frantic worry.

Sami's five-month check up won't be until the end of next week, due to her being sick last month and us having to reschedule her four-month check up late, too, and since the visits are supposed to be 30 days apart due to her vaccination schedule all of her monthly appointments will be two weeks later than normal. I'm curious to find out her height and weight now. To me, she looks a lot taller as though she's had a big growth spurt. She is now wearing a combination of newborn-size clothing, and 0-3 month size clothing.

Sami stopped sleeping through the night again for some reason. She had been sleeping 10 hours at night, from about 9:30 p.m. until 7:30 a.m., however the past few nights she as fallen asleep before 8 p.m., then woke up around 1 a.m. and hasn't been going back to sleep until after 4 a.m. I'm hoping tonight will be better, because she fell asleep at 7:30 p.m., but woke up at 8:30 p.m., and I then I took her to visit my sister, brother-in-law and niece, and by the time we got back home and I changed her into pajamas and gave her a bottle, it was probably close to 11 p.m. before she fell back asleep. So I have high hopes that she will sleep through the night tonight once again.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

One smile makes everything worth it!

Today was a really nice Sunday. Sami didn't fall asleep until after midnight Saturday night, and she slept until after 8 a.m. Sunday morning. I fed her cereal and a bottle, and when Steven woke up I made French toast for the two of us. After that, Steven took care of Sami so that I could make my deadline for the catalog I needed to have edited by Monday. I had expected to be up all night Sunday night completing it, and was pleasantly surprised to be done with by 4 p.m.

In the evening, Steven went to watch Wrestlemania, as our brother-in-law ordered it and invited a few guys over to watch it with him. Right now, I am home with Sami and our two dogs and two cats. Sami is sleeping on the couch next to me as I type, and every time I glance over at her my heart feels as though it is literally melting. Sami really seems to be enjoying baby food, and I think that so far bananas are her favorite. They are extremely messy and gooey, but it's still so cool to watch her eat real food.

On Friday, Elizabeth's parental rights were officially terminated! Our attorney has submitted a request for a court date to finalize the adoption, and we are waiting to hear back about that. There is a 30-day minimum waiting period between the termination of the birth parents' parental rights and the adoption finalization. So at this point all we know is that the earliest the finalization will take place is early May, but it could be later, of course. Then the next step is to have Sami converted. And then we can plan her baby-naming, which we're still hoping will take place during the summer. Also, our social worker completed her post-placement report about us after visiting us with Sami, and it was so beautiful that it brought tears to my eyes about the wonderful things she thought of our new little family.

On Monday morning, Sami and I will be going to our regular Mommy & Me class, followed by our hour-long drive to return the edited catalog. My mother may be joining us for that drive, as it is near the kosher market and we both want to do our Passover shopping for the eight long days of keeping kosher for Passover.

Speaking of kosher, Steven and I have decided to keep a kosher home. I was brought up in a kosher home, and am feeling the need to give that to Sami, too. We also talked about how it's been so important for us to convert her and give her a Hebrew name at the baby-naming ceremony, so why not carry that into giving her a Jewish life, starting with growing up in a kosher home. So beginning about one month ago, all the food in our home has been kosher, we have been separating meat and dairy, etc. And Steven has given up ham, which he loves, but still did it with no complaints. The only thing I have left to do is set up our two sets of dishes, silverware and pots and pans, for meat and dairy, as one of the main rules of keeping kosher is not mixing meat and dairy products. I plan on doing that this week. I know it will be a lot of work, but we both feel committed to making it work.

Aside from that, Steven and I have both been working hard. I met with the author for whom I am editing a book, and signed a contract with him. I expect to have his first few chapters by Wednesday, and will be getting to work on those. In addition, I accepted the telecommute editor position of a business trade publication. The job will start in about eight weeks, as the publisher is revamping the publication. The job pays VERY little, but I will be able to work from home, and the publisher has promised that as the magazine pages increase, so will the amount of money I will earn. I am friendly with a woman who used to work with him on a previous venture, and she said that he is very sincere about that, and was always very good about "sharing the wealth" when he had success. As for Steven, he has been working hard at his day job, in addition to accepting a lot of side jobs and often comes home after working all day just to work on other projects at night. We are not in the position right now to turn down work, so we are doing the best we can to balance work, parenting and time with each other.

Sami does not nap much at all during the day. She takes a few naps, but they usually do not last longer than five or 10 minutes. But she is now sleeping eight to 10 consecutive hours at night! She is really starting to play now, shaking rattles, holding stuffed animals with delight, and grabbing at the items that hang from her activity mat. She's really becoming quite a character, with her own personality. She also does a lot of baby-talk, and looks so serious about whatever she is trying to tell us. She can also sit up in her boppy pillow now. She still has her bad days of course, in which she screams and cries and makes doing anything else aside from holding her almost impossible. But of course it's all worth it when I see her smile, and then I forget about the screaming moments.

Monday, March 28, 2011

More work and play are on the way

I was just outside talking to the woman across the street with whom I am friendly. She is a stay-at-home mom to three children. We decided we both need at least a little bit of time that is just "me time," and she asked me if I wanted to go walking a couple of evenings each week. We decided to pick a couple of specific days/times with the idea that if we have an actual schedule, we may actually stick with it. And by walking we wont be too far from home in case our husbands/kids need us. The other reason for having scheduled walking evenings, is so that we will have a couple of planned nights our husbands know about in advance in which they must be home and available to watch the kids. Steven has not yet been alone with Sami, and we fondly refer to her as my "sidekick," but considering she will be five months old next Monday, I think it may be time. :)

Mommy and Me this morning was really nice. There was a little girl who kept walking over to me and Sami and trying to hug her and kiss her. I think she was about 20 months old. Her mother said she loves babies, and Sami loved all of the attention.

As for my work schedule, things look like they will be soon be getting busy again. I am still writing one to two articles each week for a local newspaper, and editing the clothing catalog a few times each month, but I had lost my main freelance job as the publication declared bankruptcy. However, I landed a gig this morning editing a book for a man who is writing a book on how to create a successful business, and we agreed on a rate this morning. He is now in the process of packing up the first four chapters he has completed to send to me, along with an advance check to get started! In addition, the trade magazine I was about to start writing for just lost its editor and because I have years of editing experience as well as writing experience, the publisher asked me to meet with him on Thursday about taking on the editor role, and he is very open to me doing the job from home!

It seems that I either have a ton of work or very little work with no happy medium; it's really been either feast or famine as a freelancer. When I have the free time, it's nice to be able to focus solely on Sami, and I've been getting to cook a lot and try out new recipes, but during those times I do also get antsy, not to mention that money gets very tight for us during those times. And on the weeks in which I have a ton of work, I greatly appreciate, and thrive on, the work, but some days feel completely overwhelmed trying to make tight deadlines while also caring for an infant. So I am trying to enjoy the next couple of days before I am very busy once again. On Tuesday, Sami and I are meeting one of the women I recently met who has a little girl that was born one week before Sami was born. And then on Wednesday I am meeting a group of women from the Mom's Club for a picnic and walk in the park.

Right now is a rare moment with Sami taking a nap during the daytime. I do not expect it to last long. Last night was the fourth consecutive night for Sami to sleep nine beautiful hours. She rarely naps at all during the day, but is sleeping longer at night finally. It's really nice that she is sleeping through the night now. And as though Sami sensed what I was just typing, her 15-minute catnap is now over, so until next time....

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sami news

I feel like a lot has happened since I've last written here. Many of you know by now that about a week ago we finally received a date of April 1 for the official termination of Elizabeth's parental rights! I almost cried when I got the call from the attorney. Then there is a minimum 30-day waiting period after that before we can go to the court to have the adoption finalized. So the attorney thinks we have a good shot of having the adoption finalized sometime in May! In the meantime I have been doing a lot of research on converting Sami to Judaism, followed by having a baby naming for her at the synagogue. I am still assuming this will all take place during the summer, and I'm hoping it will be closer to the beginning of the summer than the end. Sami will either be converted Conservative or Orthodox. My feeling is to have her converted by the most observant form of Judaism as possible, so that later there is no question she is Jewish, as the different movements of Judaism do not all honor the other's conversion processes.

Sami and I have began to go to a Mommy & Me class on Monday mornings that we both love. At four-and-a-half months old, Sami is the youngest member, but there is another baby who is 7 months old. Sami is drawn to other babies, and laughs and smiles whenever she sees one. On Friday, we visited my friend Stacey, and her daughter, Hannah, who is 5 weeks older than Sami. They had a great time, and when we put them next to each other on the activity mat Sami and Hannah couldn't stop holding hands. It was so sweet to watch. Sami and I have also joined a local Mom's Club and met some of the other mothers on Thursday, and will be seeing them again on Wednesday for a picnic in the park around lunchtime. The Mom's Club is a national organization with chapters all over the country. Its mission is to reach out to mothers who choose to stay at home with the children instead of working full time outside the home, and they have activities almost every weekday so that if you have a day in which you feel the need to get out of the house with your child and visit with other mothers and children the opportunity is there. The activities are either free or very low in cost. I have met some really nice women there already, most of whom live nearby.

Working from home and taking care of Sami simultaneously is still challenging, but still so worth it to me. I love being with her all of the time, and am grateful to not have to take her to daycare at this time. I love being there for every laugh and smile, and yes even all of her screaming and crying moments.

Sami is doing pretty well with her slow transition to baby food, and has been eating rice cereal for breakfast. For dinner she has so far tried apples and sweet potatoes, and I think she prefers the sweet potatoes over the apples. On Sunday, it is time to try something new. She is an extremely messy eater, and for some reason she finds the need to try to shove her entire hand in her mouth along with the food, and then take her hand out and wipe it on her head and in my hair. After each meal she needs a bath and I need another shower. She is still getting most of her nutrition from her bottles/formula, of course, but it's a nice to change to have her eating baby food.

Sami takes very little, if any, naps during the day now. If she does fall asleep during the day, it's a 15-20 minute catnap at best. But she is sleeping around 7 to 9 hours each night, which has been really nice. Her most recent sleep schedule has been averaging from around 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. She is still sleeping in our room, and I am starting to prepare myself of the idea to transition her to sleep in her room in her crib. I think it may be more difficult for me than for her to not have her close at night. I will miss knowing she is in the room and hearing her soft breathing at night.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sami's doing great

It's been a great couple of days. On Monday, at 4 and a half months old, Sami had her rescheduled four-month well-check-up. She got a couple of more shots, and got a glowing bill of health. The pediatrician said that Sami is doing things on the level of a six-month-old baby, and not a preemie, but of a six-month-old baby that was born full term. She said there is no reason for Sami to get an early intervention evaluation (a free state program that works with preemie babies since they often have developmental issues.) Sami grabs rattles and shakes them, rolls over, holds her head up, and is trying very hard to sit up. She leans forward and then holds it for a few seconds and falls back again. The doctor said she may be sitting up very soon, which is pretty early. When having tummy time, Sami props herself up on her arms so that she is upright from her waist up, and the doctor expects her to begin scooting very soon, which comes soon before crawling. I was advised to start feeding her a little bit with a spoon, and yesterday morning and this morning, Sami had a little bit of very watery rice cereal mixed with formula for breakfast, followed by her bottle. Once she is able to tolerate it when it is thick as hot cereal an adult would eat (I will be slowly giving it to her a little thicker every few days or so), we can start trying any baby food that is in the Stage 1 category, as long as we don't try more than one new item in four days, to make sure she doesn't have a reaction to one item. It was a bit messy, but Sami did really well, although it seemed I couldn't feed her quickly enough and she got really mad at me between spoonfuls. It was so exciting to feed her with a spoon!

Sami weighs 10 pounds and 11 ounces, and is 22 and a half inches long. And she finally officially on the chart! She is somewhere between the fifth and 10th percentile, which means that between 90 and 95 percent of all babies her age are taller than her and weigh more than her, but at least she is actually on the chart at all. This is the first month she made it onto the chart. She is still wearing newborn clothes, but I have started to dress her in a few things that are the 0-3 month size. They are a little big, but they are beginning to become wearable.

As for me, today Sami and I went for an hour long drive to meet the publisher of a business magazine for which I am going to begin writing. Work for me has been slower, and I'm still trying to make up for the money I lost from the publication I was writing for that declared bankruptcy. Also due to a tax increase, our mortgage payment has gone up about $150 each month this year. I am also expecting to receive pages either Thursday or Friday from the clothing catalog to proof during this weekend, and have two stories due for another publication on Friday. Working from home while also being a full-time stay-at-home mom is challenging, but we are not the position to turn down any work right now. Steven is working hard during the days at his full-time job, and he has also taken on freelance side jobs that he works on at home in the evenings and weekends. We are both working very hard and keeping very busy, but it's worth it to provide Sami with everything she needs, and it's worth it to us to be in the house we love, our first house that we bought more than a year ago.

Sami is starting to really love to play, and spends time on her activity mat every day laughing. I also read and sing to her daily, and work with her during tummy time watching her trying to scoot forward. I'm always reading and researching, as I have always done with everything in my life, about the best ways to help Sami achieve her milestones. But of course a lot of the things I am doing come from natural instincts, and I just do what feels right. I just hope that I make her even half as happy as she makes me.

Monday, March 14, 2011

another new day of changes

As I write this, Sami's rescheduled appointment for her four-month well-check-up is in an hour. She'll be getting shots once again, as she does every appointment, as because of her small size her shots are divided so that she only gets half her shots each month. This means of course that every appointment she gets shots, whereas most infants only get shots every other month. Poor Sami.

Right now, she is full and happy and has no idea what is coming a little later today.

Yesterday Sami and I ran into four senior women outside a store, who stopped to admire her. Everywhere we go, people stop us and say that Sami is one of the cutest babies they have ever seen. Yesterday when one of the women asked me how old Sami was, and I answered "almost 4 and a half months," she replied that her grandson is also 4 months and looks double the size of Sami. I explained that Sami was a preemie so she is a little small. And one of the other women told me about her preemie grandchildren. It seems as though everyone I meet has a story about a preemie. Yesterday the cashier at Walmart when Sami and I were out buying more formula (Walmart is the cheapest place to get her formula by far), told me about her twins that were born a few years ago at 4 pounds each. All the stories are positive, about preemies starting off so small, and turning out to be amazing children.

Sami has been trying to sit up lately, but of course she can't do it yet. If I hold her in my arms when I am sitting down, she tries to lean her little body forward but then she falls right backward again. She is also talking up a storm, but of course nobody can understand what she is saying. She seems to be saying the same thing over and over, and she looks so serious about it. I believe she is really trying to tell us something important to her. She now loves her activity mat, and when she is playing on it, she grabs at all the things that hang above her head and tries to talk to them. Perhaps she thinks that they will understand her. Every day is an amazing day of changes, laughs and smiles, which she also does extremely often now. Of course she still has her times of screaming and crying when nothing seems to console her. But those moments of laughing and smiling make me quickly forget the frustration I feel when she is crying and screaming.

I never knew I could love someone as much I love Sami.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What a day

Sami's temperature fluctuated throughout the day on Wednesday. It started off early in the morning at 98.7, but by the afternoon it was up to 99.5, and a little later it was up to 100.1. So since the pediatrician said she wanted to hear from me either way on Wednesday, either to say she is all better and reschedule her well-check-up, or to say she is still sick, I called and said I'm not sure which to say since she seems to be feeling better, but still has a little bit of a fever, and still has a touch of stomach upset. I spoke to a nurse who didn't know either and left a message for the doctor, who finally called me back in the evening. She said that she is not worried as long as her temperature stays below 100.5, and that the virus is just running its course. She said that she expects Sami will be all better by the weekend, and can have her four-month well-check-up and vaccinations any day next week. In the meantime, Sami and I are pretty much stuck inside the rest of the week, since her resistance may be low right now as far catching anything else. I'm thinking that I'll at least take her to the park for a little while on Thursday, just so we can both get some fresh air.

While I was on the phone with the nurse during the day, the appointment desk at the pediatrician's office called my cell phone and left me a rude message that we didn't show up for Sami's well-check-up on Tuesday morning! What idiots! Did she not see that I was there for two hours on Monday afternoon when Sami was sick? It reminds of an expression my mother always says: "The left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing." In addition, when I left the doctor's office on Monday at 5:30 p.m. I stopped at the appointment desk to make sure they were aware I wouldn't be back on Tuesday morning for her scheduled appointment, and the receptionist said she would take care of it. This kind of stupidity drives me insane.