Monday, May 25, 2009

It is finished!

I’m not exactly sure when I broke a mirror, but I am hoping that after this weekend that life will be changing for the better. You see, I have finished my PhD in Counseling and Personnel services and graduated on Friday! And, it took me 7 years to complete the program!

My dissertation is dedicated to my children Victoria and Nicolas with the following words by Carl Jung “Nothing is a stronger influence psychologically on their environment, and especially on their children, than the unlived lives of the parents.” And while the process was very difficult for me and created some hardships for the family during the process, I know that ultimately this degree will benefit more than just me. I know it will have a strong influence on Tori and Nic.

You see, on the first day, of my first class, I was delighted to share that I was pregnant with my daughter Victoria. In fact, that class and the ladies that share the distinction “PhDiva” with me, saw the sonogram of Tori even before Slade! Then, last year Slade and I traveled to Russia and brought Nicolas home to our family. Tori and Nicolas truly are the bookends of my graduate career. Now, Tori will actually know a mommy who is not in school. And, If you want to know what a PhD looks like Tori is the physical representation of my 7 years in the program -- from conception to now!

Throughout my experience I really questioned whether or not I would actually be able to graduate. I juggled a full-time job and part-time student load. I have been in class and had to leave to take my sick daughter to the hospital. I have carried many incompletes that I was not sure that I would ever finish. I was devastated when I did not pass comprehensive exams the first time. Then, after writing a complete dissertation proposal, the Navy had decided to place a moratorium on all human-subjects research and it looked like I would not be able to propose my research anytime in the near future if I kept my subject. Starting over – even on a similar topic – was very difficult. It took a lot of motivation to make that switch.

If that wasn’t enough, on the day of my proposal we thought Slade had a heart-attack. And yet, I attended my proposal meeting. Then, just to top things off, I sustained 2nd degree burns on my right hand just weeks before I was to defend my the dissertation. It is amazing to me that I have persevered. Today, however, I am here to tell you “It is finished!”

Friday, May 8, 2009

Confessions of a 6 year old

Don't you just love the way kid's brains work? Here are a few recent out takes from conversations with Tori. . .

Tori: Mom, I can't wait to go to the "ho and tell."
Me: Are you having show and tell at school?
Tori: No, the "HO and TELL"
At this point, I'm puzzled.
Me: What's the "Ho and Tell"?
Tori: You know where the hot tub is. I'm going there with Marshall.
Me: Oh, you mean a hotel?
(Side note -- My family is coming to visit us in Maryland soon, and they will be staying at a hotel!)
Later, I just had to get Slade in on this one --- the ho and tell -- now just think about that for a moment -- I sure hope that no one will be "ho and tell" at the hotel :)! I had to ask Slade what he had been teaching our daughter!

Conversation #2 occurred at the dinner table. Sam (mid from the NA) was joining us for dinner.
Tori: Sam you are the first kid done.
Sam: I'm not a kid?
Tori: Well, you're not married.
At which point we all get a nice laugh.
Sam: What about the Pope?
Tori: Who?
I just love the fact that you are either a kid or married. I guess it does feel that way sometimes!

Friday, May 1, 2009

May Day

Did you know that May Day was actually the festival of Flora, the Roman Goddess of Flowers? This is one of the reasons that people adorn their houses with flowers on May Day. May Day is intended to mark the end of winter, and celebrate the coming of the new season.

Well, for me May Day will always be synonymous with the day that Nicolas became a US Citizen. I cannot forget the day that we landed in Atlanta after a longer than anticipated stay in Russia. We were exhausted but so glad to be back in the United States. If May Day was once the celebration of spring and a new season, I cannot think of a more fitting day to celebrate the new season in Nicolas' life by become a US Citizen -- pretty neat huh?

FROM 2008 TO 2009

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Missing Blogger Found

After weeks of silence, the missing Wilson World blogger has been found. In a phenomenon that that has left authorities baffled, it appears that the blogger had been spending time with her family instead of posting to her blog. These pictures were captured of the blogger's activities during her absence. It appears that the blogger had many events to post about including her daughter's 6th birthday, Easter activities, and Potomac Cruise with friends. It was therefore surprising to find that the blogger had not posted about any of these happenings. Apparently, no one was hurt during the absence; in fact, the family reports that there was a lot of "fun" occurring. It has been reported that the blogger is begging for forgiveness from the courts and has entered a plea bargin with a suspended sentence for mandatory blogging

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I dry!

Ah, the sweet sound of those two words. Those who have been with me in potty training he** know exactly what I mean. It has been 3 days and Nicolas has not had one accident. I must tell you this is one MAJOR accomplishment for my little dude. The last few days he has greated me at the door when I come home with the following. . .

hi mom
come on, come in
mom, I dry!

His sweet little way of letting me know that he went all day without an accident. We then spend a few minutes doing the happy dance. Nicolas jumps up and down; I clap and then we have a big hug. Now, maybe I am counting my chickens before they hatch but 3, count them 1-2-3 days -- I must be in heaven!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Meeting with Dr. Kauffman @ the Fragile X Clinic

This week we had an appointment with Dr. Kauffman at the Fragile X clinic at Kennedy Krieger. First, it is pretty amazing that we were able to schedule this appointment. When we received Nicolas' diagnosis last summer, I called the clinic, and they put us on the waiting list. The first available appointment was for the winter of 2010. That was 1 1/2 - 2 years from the time that I made the first contact to them. However, Dr. Davoli in the International Adoption Clinic was able to make a referral to the Fragile X clinic for a record review. I was a little neutral about the meeting at first because I felt like -- "what are we going to learn that we do not already know?". Well, I am very glad that we scheduled this appointment.

We met with Dr. Kauffman for about 2 hours to discuss the genetics of Fragile X, learning and behavior. He was very impressed with all the documentation that we already had for Nicolas. He started by asking us the reason the genetic testing was done. (The only way to receive a Fragile X diagnosis is through the genetic test). Our pediatrician had ordered the genetic test within a month of our arrival home from Russia. The main reason he ordered the test was because of the lack of medical background that we had received for Nicolas and his developmental delays. Our doctor had order the test to rule out anything else that might be happening when the Fragile X was discovered. What we learned from Dr. Kauffman was that as recently as last week, he and others with the national organization were meeting with Congress to try to impress the need for testing. Many more children may actually have Fragile X than those who have a diagnosis. I get a little chill just thinking about it -- we received our diagnosis within 60 days of having Nicolas home while many go untested, and our doctor had the wisdom to order the genetic test. If ever there was an example of God's hand working in my life it is this.

Dr. Kauffman was also very impressed by the Towson language study. It really helps to differentiate between the language deficiency of internationally adopted children and the deficiency that he is experiencing due to the Fragile X. If it were not for this blog and Eileen (thank you!), who let me know about the study at Towson University, we may not have such good diagnostic information. Dr. Glennen was able to work us into the study last year. They had already completed their spring intakes, but she was able to work us in before the summer break. This is another one of those instances when I know that God was in control.

The other great news is that Dr. Kauffman is going to begin the assessments to get Nicolas into the clinic. Normally, a two day assessment is conducted by a team of doctors. Scheduling is very difficult so they only schedule an assessment once a month. Since we are already patients at Kennedy Krieger, we will continue to work with them and begin to have individual assessments. So, instead of waiting until next winter, we will begin as early as late spring this year. Our first assessment will be with a behavioral psychologist. I am looking forward to this any suggestions that the doctor can provide us to help with Nicolas' tantrums.

He told us that Nicolas was a high functioning Fragile X. As testament to this we often have friends and even family who wonder if the test could have been wrong. Dr. Kauffman indicated that the test is certain but the fact that people think he is "normal" indicates that he is coping well. The further testing will give us information about anxiety and attention deficit which is common for those with Fragile X.

Finally, he gave us some very promising news. I am even a bit afraid to write it here because I am too scared to be optimistic. A drug used to treat Fragile X was approved for clinic trials which are underway (we knew about this). We were not sure what this meant but we thought that maybe by the time Nicolas was a pre-teen it might be available to us. What we learned from Dr. Kauffman was that the drug trials have been going very well. If they continue to progress, the drug might be available to Nicolas as early as 2 years from now! This drug will treat the disorder not just the symptoms. Very, very promising news for a child who is only 4!

If you pray for our family, thank God for these blessings. I know that he is alive and working in my life! And, continue to pray that we will have stamina for all the doctor's appointments we will experience this year. It does take its toll on me. And, pray that these drug trials continue to go well and the drug would become available to Nicolas.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New Do's

Tori and I sprung forward with a new look!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Snow Day!

The winter storm blew through our area yesterday. We got some nice powdery snow -- about 6". This is the type of winter weather that I can handle (forget the ice, yuck). Although I must admit that I am dreaming of green grass and 70 degree weather for March, our snow day was nonetheless fun. I slept in as long as the kids would allow which wasn't much later than normal, but we all ended up piled up in the bed for a bit. We all stayed in our jammies for quite a while after we decided to leave the bed. Then about mid-afternoon, me and the kids bundled up and headed for a nice incline at the neighbors house. I wonder what Nicolas thinks when he sees the snow. The first thing he said was "mess". The kids had a great time in the snow -- sledding down the hill and having snowball fights. Then another neighbor brought a snow tube out -- that was a blast. For next year, I really need to invest in snow suits, boots and waterproof gloves for the kids. We made due, but it was sure cold! I had to end the fun because my shoes were not built for the snow and not being a kid, I had all the cold and wet I could take for one day. When we came in for lunch, we warmed up with campbell's soup. It reminded me of the snowman commercial. I think we all felt like that snowman melting off the cold.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

All Dressed Up

This one is for GranMolly -- I know you've been waiting on this pic!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

10% Goal

I used to find myself just dreading stepping on the scale. I'm sure that just about every American female has had this feeling at one point or another. This past fall, my weight had gotten to the point that I either had to lose weight or buy new clothes. Slade voted against new clothes, so I joined WW.
Amazingly, the weight started coming off. Even during th holidays, I managed to lose a few more pounds. I must admit that from about December 24 - sometime in January, I kept saying, "I'll start again next week" -- too many parties, candies, chips around. Howver, I have been quite diligent again in the past few weeks. Tracking everything I eat and keeping a close eye on what I will and will not eat.
Now, I actually enjoy weighing-in just to see how much I have lost. And, the accountability is great for me because I would never do this at home! At home, there is no one there to tell me what I am thinking. When I weigh-in with someone else giving me the verdic, I feel the shame of "you didn't lose this week" or the elation of "wow, you lost another pound this week". It really does keep me motivated (sometimes it is the gains that motivate me more than the losses) .
On Wednesday, I weighed-in and reached my first goal 10%! I really wanted to lose the 10% before the end of my first WW session, and I just accomplished it. From October until now, I am about 15 lbs lighter. I have just a few more pounds to lose before I am at my ultimate weight, and I am psyched.
Now all I can say is watch out bikini -- I'm gonna be ready for you this summer!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

New Tat

Forget the paperwork -- this makes it official!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Nicolas' First Birthday

Well it’s not really his 1st birthday but it is most likely his first birthday party. Nicolas turned the big 04 on Friday. Since Valentine’s Day was this weekend and a friend of his was also celebrating his birthday, it was cake, cake, cake all weekend.

On Friday, the fam went to Friendly’s for Nicolas favorite meal – hamburger and fries – and of course, ice cream! Saturday was Valentine’s Day so he got he got a present from Mom and Dad. On Sunday, a friend celebrated his birthday at a bowling alley. Nicolas just LOVES bowling. This was his second bowling party and he is such a hoot when he is bowling. Today, we had a big celebration for Nicolas. We spent the day with the Nelson’s at Port Discovery, had lunch at McDonald's because it is hamburger and fries, and ate cake and opened presents at home. No wonder I am so tired writing this! I leave you with the weekend in pictures. . .

Happy Birthday Nicolas!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Living Like No One Else

Today, I was walking though the grocery store with a calculator in my hand. This is something that I haven’t done for probably 15 years when Slade and I were first married. Back then, we were so poor that we didn’t have two nickels to rub together. The first time we sat down to create a budget, we found out very quickly that there wasn’t very much money coming in and that we would have to watch every penny. We set aside 20 dollars every two weeks for eating out which meant that we could eat at Taco Bell twice or we might be able to eat at a real restaurant if we pulled all the money for that meal.

Maybe it’s the economy, but recently, we have been having discussions about becoming dept free. Our adoption expenses and the extra time we spent in Russia left us with a pretty large credit card bill. In fact it was probably the most I have put on a credit card since we have been married. Now that I have finished the dissertation and will be graduating in May (for the last time :) ), my student loans will be coming due. We were successful at only using loans for my undergraduate education which means that those loans have been sitting for the past 10 or so years and someone out there is itching to finally get paid (there must be some loan officer somewhere wondering just how long you can stay in school ). Between credit cards and student loans, we have quite a bit to repay.

We are dedicated to paying off the credit card and the student loan as quickly as possible – within the next 18-24 months. Then, the only dept that we will have remaining is the house.
A funny side story – in the process of paying off credit card debt, I recently paid off one of our credit cards. I called the company to cancel the card. They were beside themselves and tried everything to have us keep the card. The customer service rep asked – what will you do if you have an emergency? My response – pay cash. I guess that really is a novel idea!

And, I guess that means that we really are dedicated to living like no one else so that . . . (well, if you don’t know how that sentence ends, you really need to ask me).

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tagged. . . What's on your bookshelf?

Wow, less than a week on Blogger and I’ve already been tagged by Shannon -- a blogger friend who adopted from Abakan too. A sort of chain letter for the blog world, I don’t always participate in these shenanigans. I must be in a good mood today and need a silly reason to blog, so here goes. . .

Here are the rules of the tag:
Grab the nearest book.
Open to page 56.
Find the fifth sentence.
Post the text of the next 2 to 5 sentences, along with these rules.
Don't dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual book. Pick the CLOSEST!
Tag five (or more) other people to do the same!

Well, you asked for it. . .

Although Tinto focuses on the college attrition process, his model has been successfully employed to suit other student outcomes. Indeed, the underlying dynamic of Tinto's theory of departure -- student integration into the academic and social systems of an institution -- is similar to Astin's (1985) involvement and Pace's (1988) quality of effort, although the importance of the investment of physical and psychological energy postulated by Astin and Pace is only implied in Tinto's concept of integration. Tinto's comparatively more explicit theoretical to the study the college student change process and to administrators who seek to design academic and social programs and experiences intended to promote students' educational growth.

From: Pascarella & Terenzini (2005). What Matters In College.

Remember, my last post -- I just defended my dissertation, what book did you expect to be the closest book to me?

Since I've had such a long blog hiatus, I must say that I'm not sure that I have 5 others to tag and many of those that I read have already been tagged, so I will offer up three more victims to this game. . .

Carey (private)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Dr Wilson

The day has finally arrived. On Wednesday, I had my oral defense of my dissertation. Thus, the reason that I have not blogged for over a month. Just too much to accomplish in a few short weeks.
The meeting went well. I was a bit worried as it snowed and the area schools were delayed until 10am. However, everyone made it to the proposal meeting and after 1 1/2 hours of questioning, my chair emerged from the room and announced me -- Dr. Wilson!


(Sorry no pics -- Slade was in charge of the camera again -- I got to remember not to do that!)