Dolesh Family

Dolesh Family

Monday, January 26, 2015

In The Groove

It is week 3 and I think we are finding a groove.  The senior (not quite AARP) members of the house are making progress while the kids are skeptical.  Stimson is still evaluating the groove.  He is a ‘stick to the original plan’ kind of a guy.  His plan is not the current plan and still involves mom more than our current reality. That means change for him is a significant ordeal, usually involving ongoing conversations and evening dessert to ease or numb his concerns.  Maybe we should have used the ‘patch’ instead of changing the plan cold turkey.  Merritt rolls with it as long as her needs (blankie, snacks, beating ‘Timmie’, bunny, and her purse) are in place. 

The perfect groove starts with compromising on sleep AND the coffee maker working….extra emphasis on the coffee maker. 4:45a comes earlier each day.  I often think back to the college days when homework started at 11p and ended at 1-2a.  Of course I was able to sleep in until 6a because who needed more than 4 hours of sleep at that age?  Fast forward to the current Adultezoic Era and usually less than 50% of the body is firing on all cylinders at 5a. Some twitching, running into walls, brushing with the wrong toothbrush could be involved. We usually don't know as those things happen in the unconscious state. Monday this past week was a rude awakening when the coffee maker decided it had enough and checked out. Our house wasn’t burning, but it may as well have been.  It was a 5-alarm emergency.  Katy’s face said it all.  When she cries wolf, I usually listen.  This was a huge wolf.  A quick trip to Costco (not at 5a) that day solved the problem.  Costco is great – they only have two options and their return policy is essentially “use it, abuse it, and bring it back no questions asked if you aren’t satisfied”.  Once the coffee has been inserted through the mouth or via IV, we are able to begin working or subject ourselves to some kind of activity (aka running) in the dark or the flywheel in the garage.

As for the kids…..any day the kids sleep past 6:30a is usually a good day.  This week, we had a few days where both kids were up before 6a.  Ummm, I think “I” need to go in to work early today.  “Honey, can you take the kids in this morning?  I will be home sometime after the kids are in bed.”  The goal is for Katy to leave the house between 6-7a.  The kids are usually up by 6:45a so we can leave for school at 7:15a.  

This week…..Thursday, Merritt woke up and the first thing she said was “I threw up just like Timmy did!!!” (reference to a period in the past where Stimson had thrown up in his bed) Oh no, sick kids are not part of the groove.  First thing that comes to mind was an email from Merritt’s school not too long ago that basically said “You are breaking some kind of law if you bring sick kids to school”.  Or maybe that was Maria Montessori’s mandate (the lady who came up with the great montessori educational philosophy) of a good learning experience. I'm not sure where that originated. “Merritt – how do you feel?  You feel fine?  OK, we are headed to school, but don’t tell anyone what happened last night”.  Phew, everything is still in the groove until noon when Merritt’s school calls to tell us she threw up.  Oops…. When I walked in to her school, I was surrounded by 15 kids yelling “Merritt PUKED! Merritt PUKED!”, “Merritt threw up all over while we were eating!”. I'm pretty sure most of the boys in her class (given about 2-3 more years of age) would have said something like "Merritt PUKED and it was AWESOME!!!  Her broccoli and carrots got great air time!" Either way, I imagine all parents got the news on the way home from their emotionally scarred kid. 

Not what we planned, but we did make it through another week.  Thanks to the great work of Martin Luther King, I was able to enjoy a company holiday at home by myself.  I made a table for Merritt’s bunny houses. 

Saturday was an important day to be outside with the kids.  A few mornings of 5:45a wake-ups, vomiting, etc….we would be wise to be outside.  Toxic germs and toxic attitudes are best shared with others in the outdoors where at least the birds are saying something nice.  We had success finding two geocaches and 100 pine cones for a school project.  We also got to ride our bikes.

On another note.....things we are thankful for this week....electricity (after two power outages), healthy kids, and mirrors.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Seeing Double

In last week's post, I mentioned the start of tax season.  That is a significant event for us, similar to the last couple months of the year for those in retail, or for farmers like my dad when harvest comes.  It is an all consuming, day and night (sometimes middle of the night), and all weekend activity that hits our family.  My hope is to share some of this with those who are close to us (aka - those that will hear very little from us until the end of April).  

This week seemed a bit better as the routine started to fall in place.  The kids still have moments where it is evident that the second string (dad) has stepped in to run the show.  Just like in sports....when the stakes are not too high, the second string actually looks good.  Well, the stakes have been higher the last couple of weeks and the second string has not looked so hot.  In order to figure out this stuff, I need lists...reminders...charts...idiot reminders, etc.  Katy makes fun of my lists or maybe it is my initiation into what real parenting is like...."Ha Ha sucker - you figure it out now.  You get the kids to school on time, remember everything they need, get them fed, break up fights, and remember the snacks that Merritt "always" eats on the way home from school. (just like I have been doing for the PAST 7 YEARS)"  Snacks in the car???  Ah, she can wait until we get home, I is only 5 min.  Well, let's just say, I'm on board now.  After one experience of the "snacks we forgot at home", I will always remember them.  My lists were created this week to make sure we didn't have to run home after getting halfway to school on the way and realizing Stimson didn't have his gloves.  Or forgetting Merritt's snacks....or forgetting to get the meat out of the freezer as Katy asked me 10 times to do so it could thaw out before evening.  I wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat trying to remember everything I need to get ready for the next day.  This week started off with me on a roll.  Stimson was wearing his boots, had his hat and gloves, and his lunch.  I had Merritt in the car on the way to her school.  I had her lunch, her water bottle, her boots, and even 'her' in the car with her seat belt buckled.  I also remembered to close the garage door (its the little things that count here)  Just one thing....I couldn't figure out why my vision was so bad on the way to school.  Was tax season already taking its toll?  Had I really not been sleeping well?  Was I seeing double?  I had my glasses on.  Then I got to work and realized I also had my contacts in.  Apparently the combination of glasses and contacts actually doesn't improve your vision.  I hadn't forgotten anything...I had over prepared.  Sigh....I still have a ways to go to get this down.  

This past weekend, we did take a last minute trip to see Stimson and Merritt's cousins in Kalispell.  

How can we get away?  Good question....It was a very quick trip with Katy figuring out how to work in the car. 

We were able to help "Aunt Trisha" celebrate her birthday.  We also got some air time on the luge track Uncle Pete and Bowman built.

Serena and Merritt also realized they could start playing together....not with toys though.  True to their personality....playing away from everyone else...


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Fun is Done

Wow, just 3 weeks ago, kids were bouncing off walls as we were gearing up for Christmas.  The anticipation and magic of it all kept the kids maxed out for several days leading UP to Christmas. The logic and experience of being around kids would caution that usually there is a crash at some point.  (Keep that thought for a moment.)  When that happens, it is best to clear the area or ask someone who is a bit more patient and understanding (ie. gets paid to do this) to watch the kids for a few hours.  Anybody can endure a certain degree of abuse for a little cash.  For us, the two weeks of our Christmas "break" were filled with two birthdays, four Christmas celebrations, and two visits by grandparents.  Translation: the kids were inebriated, but not by alcohol.  Everyday was a party and the fun was seemingly endless. Actually, we really did have a lot of fun and enjoyed spending time with our parents who drove hundreds of miles through terrible conditions like we all used to do when we were college students.  You know, those days when you "started" driving on your 10 hour trip at 10p when you got off work and when all logic with road conditions and night driving did not apply to you.  You can do anything with coffee, Mountain Dew, music, and an open window with cold air flowing in. The fun..... well, for us it meant sleeping past 5:45a, hanging out with the kids at length, XC skiing, sledding, good food, hanging out with friends, spending time with parents, movies "upstairs" with the kids, and playing with new toys.

Meanwhile, there was this little thought lingering for at least one person in our family....TAX SEASON.  Tax season is always crazy.  At this time of the year, we expect it to be and we prepare for the craziness.  However, let's just say last year was intense and many of us in our family still have nightmares about it.  Well, that reality hit this past Monday.  That crash I was talking about earlier....insert patient, understanding DAD and the new tax season plan.  Oh, and we forgot to have a family meeting to go over the new protocol.  Effective Monday, Mom was heading in to work early.  That meant Dad (for the next 15 weeks) was in charge of walking the kids to school. mean Mom is not taking us anymore?  Enter Christmas hangover....

With no transition, we were all off to school at 7:15a for the 'before-school' program.  Kids were confused, rushed, irritated, and I was in charge.  No problem I thought - I can do all of this....Where's your hat?  What do you mean you forgot your hat?  It is 7 degrees.  Yes, I forgot your snack.  You will have to wait until we get home later.  You didn't go to the bathroom before we left?  Deep breath.....  Hmm, we want Mom back.  

The hangover did last a few days, but by Friday, things were starting to settle in a bit.  Check out Stimson's publishing party (his favorite part of school).

Only 14 more weeks to go.....

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A New Year

Friends and Family,

We hope you are all doing well with the start of 2015.  By now, you have probably eaten all the cookies, taken down the Christmas tree, and are well into the new year.  With the start of a new year, we wanted to take a moment to send you an update on our family. 

The year 2014 was a very defining year for our family, filled with many high and low moments that seemed to change the trajectory of our lives.  There were many challenges and yet those challenges turned into opportunities for us to paint a clearer picture of what our family would look like in the next chapter of our lives. 

Our youngest daughter Merritt is now 3 going on 16.  The highlights of her year include ‘nastiks’ (gymnastics), attending her ‘school’ four days a week, and copying, following, and trying to beat Stimson at everything he does.  Our son Stimson turned 7 this year and has officially requested the job of disciplining, calming, and helping his younger sister. He does a great job and often knows better than his parents how to handle Merritt.  He started first grade and enjoyed numerous outdoor activities including hiking, biking, camping, running, and cross-country skiing, which meant Merritt also enjoyed the same activities.  

Katy has continued her professional career as an accountant, although this year was especially challenging as she not only performed her typical tax season routine, but did so while working two other jobs at the same time.  It’s a long story and one that we hope we never have to repeat as the ripple effect from tax season didn’t subside until around October.  Starting in 2015, she will be doing her same number crunching but at one firm.  I continue to work as a Product Manager at LexisNexis and enjoy the opportunities I have had there to learn.  Outside of work, Katy and I were also able to enjoy a lot of camping, running, and biking.  We both ran several races, with the most memorable being the Venice Marathon that we did together this past fall. 

While there were many other events that defined our year, a big reason for writing this letter was to provide an adoption update to you.  Our quest to adopt started around five years ago.  Those five years have been filled with a lot of bumps along the way and a lot of waiting for the adoption process to complete so that we could move our family forward together.  In the meantime, we attempted to prepare for the changes that would be coming our way – prepping the house, creating new beds, talking to the kids, and emotionally preparing for the challenge of adding another child to our family with an unknown past.  At this time last year, we had indicated that we had been assigned a referral.  That meant we had a name, a picture, and a somewhat unclear history of a girl who was to become a part of our family.  When the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) placed a suspension on all exit visas last October, we knew we would be waiting at least until October of 2014 before anything would happen.  Despite the suspension, we jumped into 2014 making monthly payments to support an additional level of care for our ‘daughter’, theoretically making her life better than what it had been, and awaiting any news that might indicate a change of status in the DRC.  Things began to change in February, when we were told that we lost our referral.  While we had prepared for this possible event like many had told us to do, it was still emotionally challenging for us to consider starting over.  We were in the midst of a hectic tax season and we were trying to understand why an attempt to improve another child’s life had to be so difficult.  Things continued to compound when our agency decided they would not be supporting new adoptions from the DRC and it was recommended we consider switching countries.  We had already switched countries once, paying and losing a lot of money in that process.  We decided to put everything on hold temporarily as we considered the next step.  Around mid-year, our adoption agency in the US went bankrupt, leaving us with no option to move forward with them.  In the midst of all this confusion and the many setbacks, we realized that all of our adoption forms were or had expired.  This meant that all our time/money/emotions and blood/sweat/tears invested in our adoption journey were gone and that we would technically and practically be starting over. With this series of setbacks, it had become more of a struggle than a dream. Frankly, we had a lot on our plate this past year and felt like we had nothing left in the tank to completely start over with the process.  We wrestled with this over several months and ultimately decided to no longer pursue adoption.  While this was difficult, we also found much contentment in putting our energy and time into our existing family and moving forward together.  We hadn’t realized how much of a holding pattern we were in and it has since been refreshing and rewarding to focus on what is right in front of us.  Many of you had partnered with us in this adoption effort and we want to say thank you!  We were honored and humbled to be supported by so many of our friends and family.  We now look forward to what lies ahead for our family.

We hope you are all doing well and we wish you all the best in 2015.  We hope to hear from you all within the next year!

Brad, Katy, Stimson, Merritt