Friday, October 31, 2008
That moment was on a par with the very first time I held her in my arms, only moments after she was born.
We went and got her luggage off the luggage-go-round, and I called Mom and Dad. They were in the parking lot, just heading in. I was still holding Maxine, so I pointed Grandma and Grandpa out to her. Her face just lit up, and she said "Grandpagrandma!" I put her down and told her to run to them, and she did.
And right there I had another beautiful moment that will stay with me for a very long time. I had very slight doubts that Maxine would be reluctant to see me when she returned; after all, two months is a long time to a three-year-old. My worries about Mom and Dad were a bit more solid. After all, Maxine only sees them once or twice a month. It was a joy to see that my worries were unfounded.
We couldn't spend much time with Mom and Dad, as Dad had a meeting to go to. They had just come over to our house a couple of days earlier and helped to clean the house. Dad and I focused on the garage. You won't believe this, but both cars fit in the garage now!
On the way home, Maxine fell asleep in the car. She was actually asleep by the time we got to the highway. She slept most of the way home, waking up to protest when we stopped to pick up some dinner. She slept through being carried into the house, and slept straight through the rest of the evening.
"How about through the night?" I hear you asking. "Not so much," is my reply. Horyon and I went to bed before 9:00, which was a good idea for me. Maxine woke up around 10 and 11, but was easily coaxed back to sleep. I'm pretty sure she was awake again at 1:00 a.m., but that's kind of hazy for me. Horyon told me that at 3:00 she was awake and asking for cereal. So she had cereal. Maybe some grapes. I don't know. Around 4:00 she came in and shook me awake. Asked if I was sleeping, in Korean. I told her yes, and asked for a kiss. I got one, and that was enough to send me back to sleep. I think this happened two or three times through the night. When my clock radio went off at 5:00, I was alone in our bedroom, but not for long. Maxine popped in to say that she had heard music, again in Korean.
Her Korean has improved by leaps and bounds, by the way. I am very proud. And tired.
We went out together to see what Mommy was up to. She was cleaning Maxine's room. It had been straightened, but all of her toys were put away in the wrong places, so she couldn't find anything.
Hopefully they will adjust to Central Standard Time soon. In the mean time, Maxine has learned to say "No" in Korean. It is truly the language of whining.
I leave you with a picture downloaded from our camera. Looks like Quangan Beach in the background to me, though I'm not sure where exactly they are.
They had some pictures taken at the same studio we used for Maxine's first birthday. I will have to get them scanned for you, because she looks like a little model. Seriously. Make up, different outfits, and beautiful. But I've been working all day, and ready for bed. Which means that Maxine will be ready to wake up soon. She and Horyon took a nap from 3:00 until after 6:30. Actually Maxine is still sleeping. She's not only jet-lagged but seems to have a bit of a stomach flu. We'll be in church Sunday for sure. The girls should have five or six hours to get ready for it, so that shouldn't be a problem.
Time for dinner!
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
The amniocentesis test came back negative. Our baby is healthy.
I took a moment this morning in my classroom, alone, with tears rolling down my face, to thank God. I then got on with a busy day.
Now I'm feeling a bit drained. As happy as I am, I want my family back. They arrive next Thursday. As busy as I am, I feel empty. I'm looking forward to being full again.
I'm going to bed.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Went to church with them. Came out, car wouldn't start. They bought me lunch, then helped me get a tow.
Got a $60 jump from a tow truck. That was some expensive electricity, dude.
Drove home. Got my friend Matt to come help me, and we changed the battery. $83.
Then Mom and Dad came to visit and bought me dinner.
So I sort of got free meals today, if you don't count the $143 I spent on the car. Hungry car.
Just submitted my assignment for the week. I was like an hour early! How awesome is that? I think it was pretty much crap, but since the nature of the assignment was also...
I should just go to bed.
Monday, October 13, 2008
These are some pictures that Horyon just sent to me. Her father has taken up biking. That's a good thing. Perhaps it makes up for my not getting on my bike for the last couple of months.
I don't know what she's pointing at, but it must have been interesting.
"Dah-ling! It's simply WONderful to SEE you! Give us a kiss now!"
Looks like Maxine took this one. Perhaps not the best point of view for pictures of a pregnant woman.
I sure am missing my girls. Two weeks and four days. Not that I'm counting. In the mean time, we have more parent-teacher conferences on Thursday. Wonderful. There are some parents I would really like to see. I suppose I should be calling them. I don't think that's going to happen this time around. If I have any extra time I'll be cleaning off my desk. Or grading. Or planning. Or working on my homework.
This week I'm doing assignment #5 out of 9. The ninth is an evaluation of the course. If I work ahead a bit, I'll have most everything done before the girls get home.
And my desk clean, too.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
And today I volunteered at LINK (Lawrence Interdenominational Nutrition Kitchen) after church. I served food to people who, for whatever reason, need or want a free meal. I also serve up sparkling conversation, and observations about the sauerkraut. (Had to use the spellcheck on that one.)
Our church building is the home of LINK, but four churches take turns hosting, so we only provide food and volunteers once a month. Horyon and I talked about doing it while I was working at Wal-Mart, but I always worked on Sundays, so we never did. Now I have, and it was a lot of fun. I want to bring my girls back to do it again next month.
They will be back in two weeks and four days. Not that I'm counting down. 19 days. I want them home now. Of course, I won't be able to spend the same kind of time on my course work and planning, but it's definitely worth having them here.
Today in church Pastor Randy brought up our situation at prayer time. He had me stand up in the center of the sanctuary, and everyone gathered around to pray for Horyon, me and our baby, as well as Maxine. If you don't believe that there is power in prayer, you haven't had people praying over you like that. Of course, if your heart is not in there praying with everyone else, it would probably feel foolish.
I didn't feel one bit foolish. I felt very blessed. The tears streamed down my face as individuals prayed out loud, and I thanked God right out loud for leading us to this church home. Then I got to pour out blessings on strangers, feeding them and making them feel welcome. Even making some of them laugh. I felt so good after that, I didn't mind coming home to an empty house.
Dad came yesterday and got some projects done. Not a whole lot, but I know Horyon will be happy. Sorry honey, you'll have to wait and see.
It's good to have a Dad who is handy around the house. It's even better to have a Dad that you can talk with, and be with. Thanks, Dad.
So it was a good weekend. Didn't get much grading done, but I can live with that.
Friday, October 10, 2008
I think we look pretty good. Of course Maxine looks excellent. And I don't think the girls look like they're getting on a plane the next morning. And you can hardly see that big old cold sore on Horyon's lip. I'm pretty sure that won't be visible in a picture only an inch wide.
We're not exactly dressed up, but it's the real us.
Hopefully Horyon will bring back many pictures from Korea. I just talked to her on the phone, and things are going well. She's visiting with friends, enjoying the food, and being homesick. Because home is where the heart is.
She's also re-learning that you can never really go back home. The changes are always lurking, waiting to jar you back into the present. She kind of learned this after we got married, but we've been gone for a year and a half. She spent a lot of time missing Korea, and every time she thought about it, Korea improved a bit in her mind. The reality had some disappointments, including a restaurant story that has made her reluctant to go out to eat.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I survived the week. I'm behind. I have so much grading to do that I don't even want to think about it. I taught by the skin of my teeth this week, and can't seem to get my students to understand any math at all. I think it's been my worst week of work. Tuesday was a good day in the classroom for the most part, but the rest of the week was just blah.
I did go to see the school play tonight. It was an endearing little version of Robin Hood. I only made one comment through the whole show. Not bad for me. I only have three students who were in it, but I like to support that kind of thing.
It's almost 10. I'm going to bed. Dad's coming tomorrow to help me get some stuff done around the house. Little repairs, projects, and stuff that just needs to get done.
And it will be good to have him around. Mom's at work tomorrow (she's working 9 days in a row, which makes me feel better about how my week has been. At least it was only 5 days!)
I feel better about the news I shared earlier. I am praying about it as much as I can, as often as I think about it. That helps. And we've both heard many stories of people getting false positives. That helps, too, though not as much as I would have expected. So we're just waiting for results, as life keeps barreling by.
By the way, if you're voting in the election, please vote for whomever you think will do the best job at fixing education. I'm inclined to think of NCLB as a Republican plan. I haven't heard Obama get beyond generalities. I preferred the speeches of President Bartlett from the West Wing. Too bad he's not running.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
I was very much in need of some good news.
Today we had parent/teacher conferences. I talked to a lot of parents, and really enjoyed the evening, but it started at 4:00 and finished at 7:00. After a full day of teaching, and the events of the previous day, I am exhausted. It's about 9 p.m. now, and I am too wired to go to bed.
The parents' association provided food, so I at least ate well. And I brought home enough leftovers to cover lunch the next couple of days.
Yeah. I'm still talking food. That's how you know I'm OK.
Keep praying for us. Now I know that it will be 3 weeks before we get the results of the amniocentesis. I'm OK with that. I am settling back into peace. Horyon suggested that maybe this is God calling us as a family back to more regular prayer. And I am definitely praying more. Perhaps not the constant prayer that Paul tells us we are called to, but anytime I stop to think about it, I also pray.
Today I emailed my principal, assistant principal, and my two closest coworkers to let them know the situation. They've all been awesome about it, once again reminding me that I am very blessed to be where I am. I asked them to not bring it up with me today, and they all honored my request, being supportive in more indirect ways.
My job is hard, but I already love it. I can't wait to be really good at it.
Monday, October 06, 2008
She sounded awful. She said she had tried to call my cell phone, and that she just wanted to talk to me, to hear my voice. And she had something to talk about.
So I changed into house clothes, used the bathroom, got some grapes, and sat down ready to cheer her up. When I called, it was about 7:30 a.m. there, and I woke her up. She answered right away, though. She had been expecting my call.
She had trouble coming right out and telling me what had happened, but I knew that something was wrong. Right away she pegged it to the pregnancy, by mentioning a visit to the doctor. Eventually it came out: one of the prenatal tests had come up positive. There is a 65% likelihood that our baby will have Down's Syndrome.
In a few hours she will have an amniocentesis test to verify it one way or the other. The procedure itself has some risk of hurting the fetus, which is why they don't usually do it first. It takes a week to get the results. A long week. But the results are more exact, like 99% sure. Next week we will know for sure.
We stayed on the phone for about 45 minutes. Maybe an hour. I mostly listened and tried to cry quietly, so that she wouldn't hear me. How can you comfort someone when you are falling apart yourself? I eventually got to the point where I could bring up the fact that Down's Syndrome kids often lead fulfilling lives, and that they can be some of the nicest, friendliest people you ever met. We agreed that if God is calling us to provide for one of these special souls, that we should rise to meet that calling.
Doesn't make it any less of a shock.
The last ten minutes we talked about more mundane things: the rib place between here and Leavenworth that I finally tried, after driving past it hundreds of times without stopping. (It's Daniel's, Dad, not Bitler's. And it was OK, but not worth stopping for. There's a better place here in town for smoked ribs.) We talked about how my classes are going, both as a student and as a teacher. We talked about how Maxine is doing.
We're already counting our blessings. If our first child had been born with Down's, we almost certainly would not have had a second. But we've already had Maxine, and she is that ultra-blessing that you just couldn't see coming. No way either of us could have known what she would mean to us.
Horyon told me that she has one big advantage over me in dealing with this: Maxine is there with her. Maxine wants her mother to be happy, and is sensitive to the times she is not. She says to Horyon, “It's OK, Mommy, we'll go home soon. Can we have some candy?” How can you not smile?
Horyon said that she felt much better after talking to me. A burden shared is a burden lightened, after all. I didn't feel better. I felt alone. Horyon had talked to Mom and Dad, but I was thinking of calling them anyway. I thought about it for maybe 30 seconds, then my phone rang. It was Mom.
“Were you calling to see if there was a long busy signal?” I asked.
“Yes.” She continued, “I wasn't too sure of the details. Sometimes Horyon is hard to understand on the phone, and it was 5:00 in the morning for her. That couldn't have helped.” I filled her in on the details she had missed. We talked for 20 minutes, and she recommended that I call our pastor. Perhaps after having some dinner.
I had dinner, then called. I talked to Linda, Randy's wife. She reminded me of some of the things that I had reminded Horyon of, that God can work through us whichever way it goes. That they can lead fulfilling lives.
I then spent some time on the internet, pretending life is normal. Chatted a bit with a coworker about plans for the week, looking for useful web sites and talking strategies.
Then I got a call from Anna, our Bible Study hostess. She had missed me Sunday, since I was at church in Leavenworth, and wanted to confirm that our group was meeting Wednesday night. I told her the news, and we talked. She offered to email our group, which I gratefully accepted.
I feel fragile. This news of something that may or may not be has me in tears. The thought of having a “normal” baby was already overwhelming enough that I had pretty much set it aside for the moment/month. I'm barely getting from day to day, planning, teaching and grading, then working all weekend to get my assignments done by Sunday night, leaving me short on sleep to start the whole cycle again. A Down's child? Sure, why not. While we're at it, how about I get rid of my desk and just carry around all the paperwork I use throughout the day.
I pray. I feel better. Until I think about it more. “Don't worry,” Horyon assures me. “It won't change anything, and could make you sick.” I know. I know. I pray more, and feel better for a short time. I pray with Linda, and with Anna. I feel better again. Until I think about it.
“Pray constantly,” the Bible tells us. Tells me. Maybe that's what I need to do, because it's the only thing that keeps me from feeling that the world is on my shoulders right now.
If you pray for us in the coming days, be sure to pray that I get enough rest, because that will be the big challenge for me this week, as it has been for the past month.
Peace, to me too.
A Brief Introduction
Here is a link to my cung post, which remains the only word which I have ever invented, and which has not, as far as I know, caught on. Yet.