Sunday, December 21, 2014

A year in review...

As 2014 closes out, the traditional year in review begins to hit social media.  I don't have a cookie cutter year to look back on; 2014 was one that was life changing for me.  Yes, CJ was born in 2013, but much of that time was spent sitting in warm, sunny Florida.  :)

Finally had the chance to settle in and find a groove in our new normal.  Luckily for me, someone slept through the night starting the second night out of the noisy NICU.



Surgery - CJ has his PEG tube replaced with a GJ button.  This was one of two surgeries this year that led to an almost instant response from CJ.  He was a different kid after this.  Guess I would be too if they took a plastic disk out of my stomach...

GJ replaced...that didn't last long!

Game changing surgery number 2.  The entire package of this surgery showed me how much trust I have in CJ's medical team and how amazing, especially, his ENT is.



Baptism and adoption finalization FINALLY!


Happy Birthday!  Time to dig into that cake!

Bedtime just got easier: No need for O2 at night and forget the need for the feeding tube too!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

CJ’s Siouxperific Pal

I have been involved at GiGi’s Playhouse for several years now and have even co-chaired the walk before. However, this year when my friend, Miranda, adopted a son with Down syndrome the Playhouse took on a new perspective. I could not be more excited to be able to participate in this year’s walk as a member of team “Super CJ.”
           CJ 2014CJ could be described as “super” for a number of reasons. First, CJ is super tough. CJ at only 7 months old had undergone 3 successful surgeries and taken each   one in stride. He has a smile that lights up a room. One of my favorite things is being with him in public and watching people’s faces at they can’t help but smile because his super smile is contagious. CJ is also a super friend, he knows when you are talking to him and begs to be talked to more. CJ is super aware and loves listening to stories, he looks intently at the pictures and even helps you turn the pages. CJ is also super friendly, he loves being around people and getting to cuddle.
           I am excited for CJ to be able to grow up with GiGi’s Playhouse as a part of his life. He loves getting to meet and play with the other babies as well as being held by the older kids. His mom loves being able to connect with other moms and swap notes on different things at the playhouse. Few places connect people and build friendships the way that GiGi’s does, and even fewer places spread love the way that GiGi’s does. One of my jobs at the playhouse is at volunteer coordinator and I watch people fall in love with GiGi’s and the unique group that makes up our GiGi’s family all of the time.
        I encourage you to help support the playhouse and help spread love with us in October.
                                                                                 Thank you,
                                                                                 Hana Krommenhoek

Saturday, August 30, 2014

It's all in a name

Remember CJ's adoption story? 

Well guess what?! 
Those Reece's Rainbow Angel Tree ornaments were of three beautiful children, including my Angel Tree Angel "Susan". I knew Susan had a forever family a few weeks ago and tonight her family was highlighted on the website's Facebook page as they reached another milestone in the process.  

As I looked through their blog I not only got to see updated pictures but God's crazy and well thought out plan added another chapter. Not only do we live only a few hours apart BUT GUESS WHAT THEY ARE NAMING HER!?!  Same spelling and everything!  Hope I get the chance to share the news with Thing 1. 

I had the wonderful chance to connect with her new mom via social media tonight. God is so amazing!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

'Twas the night before the first day of school...

As I lay here the night before the first day of school, I realize it is not just any new school year. It's not just the seventh new school year of me teaching. It is the first night before school of me being a mom. Not only 100% mine, don't have to share, always forever mom; but mom of a kid with special needs. A teacher of kids who CJ could be just like in six years. A teacher whose partner teacher is welcoming eight Kindergarten students with nervous parents into the elementary school setting tomorrow. A mom who so very soon will be on the other side of the fence for first day of preschool, first day of Kindergarten and just first day of new caretakers of my child. 

I am beginning THIS school year not worrying about how many side hugs I give or how messy my handwriting is in the communication notebook. I am beginning this school year as a mom who just happens to also be a teacher.  

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Snapshot of bedtime

And to think this is only the kitchen prep part!
Repeat twice a day, no matter how late you may be running in the morning ;). 

Monday, July 7, 2014

CJ time

Seven months ago I didn't know when CJ would be able to eat by mouth again. I was so frustrated about the lack of feeding therapy and help. I was worried I wasn't doing enough to help him learn how to eat. 

In typical CJ fashion he is loving getting the chance to eat and of course has an opinion on it :)!

Now my worries have shifted to gross motor but I know in CJ time those worries will be old news too. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

New mom

Dear new moms - 
I may not have much to add to your post-pregnancy body conversations or your discussions on breast feeding, but I wish you would open the stroller line and let me slide in.  I may not have gotten to experience the kicks in my belly but the waiting wasn't any easier. The path I took is not as traveled as yours but it lead to the same place of caring for a little human being. 

-not a tummy mommy but a mommy all the same 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

God Moments

On a weekly basis I get the chance to pause and reflect on God moments from the week. This weekend God was on fire through CJ! 
He had surgery Friday morning. Dr. Sewell had planned on a 2.5 hour surgery. Once he had gone back Emily and I had brunch - salad and pizza at 10:45am. We hadn't been back in the waiting area for long and Dr. came walking towards us with a smile on his face. I was confused but didn't think it could be bad based on his facial expression. 
The over two hour surgery only took an hour. The most difficult part was getting the IV in. Possibility of going home sooner than thought too. After the Dr left a nurse came to give us a report that he was out of yep the doc already told us. Guess we also missed the nurse originally while we were eating...

He did super in recovery and was ready to go to his room in PICU shortly after. By the time the afternoon was closing out everyone was impressed with how he was doing. 

I played the role of stubborn mom. I was determined that no preventable hiccups were going to delay us going home. 

Doc stopped by before 7:30 am Saturday. My stubbornness eliminated any reasons for not going home THAT MORNING!

God is good!

Monday, April 14, 2014


As I was rocking little man, as thing 1 lovingly nicknamed him this weekend, long after he had fallen asleep tonight; my brain began to wonder and reflect.  Reflect on those who are not in my life by choice; either by mutual or one sides choice to walk away. 
Though I miss some of these individuals who crossed my mind tonight; it wasn't for myself that I was sadden by our lost disconnect. It was for them and their lack of opportunity to have someone as awesome as little man in their lives, even if just occasionally.
For them to not truly smile from ear to ear as a small child laughs and giggles. For them to not have the opportunity to share in the celebration of reaching a milestone once seemed to be so far away. You see I no longer find myself counting down days till the next turn of the calendar - except maybe to pay day for the sake of my bank account.
A major life responsibility has brought me peace and a feeling of contentment. Though life is still going by too fast and it seems like just yesterday, I can honestly say I'm doing a decent job of enjoying each day.
So before you push someone aside out of convience for yourself, consider what they can give to you. To receive a priceless gift. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Happy Thoughts

As I was reading a blog about the power of positive affirmation today, I began to think about CJ's response to me telling his story and how I can portray his adoption story.  Often, when I begin to tell his story, CJ will display body language of being annoyed or upset - yes I know he is a baby...  Whether he is acting on the words, tone or focus of the situation, I can do my best to use the power of positive affirmation in connection to his story, ethnic background and hair.  Though there maybe limited dancing and yippee shouting... 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

His Plan

I'm taking part in a 8 week class at church and today we reflected on the idea of God creating the Earth and then He just stepping back to let things run it's course. 

It dawned on me how much proof against that I have. And how much strength I have in response to people questioning my choices based on what a potential future husband might think. 

His plans are so beautiful and well orchestrated when you stop and think about all He has done in your life. I will admit I could have said no thanks but I'm so glad I didn't. His love for me shows in His thoughtful blueprint. 

A beautiful young mom makes the choices she did that leads to making the decision to put her unborn baby first.

For prenatal care to consist of one false negative, the perfect date for an appt. and the need for baby to be born right then and there. 

An email followed by a phone call built on the foundation that you atleast try opening the door. Worst outcome is it's locked. 

Lack of chance to need to make a decision. 

The heart of a young birthday girl to speak through. 

A maid of honor support system without the wedding. Along with the silent love a father has for his daughter. 

And you question what Prince Charming is going to think?  I'm pretty sure He has that covered too!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Overflowing support and love

Disclaimer - If you did not receive an invite it's more likely that the post office is to blame than you not being thought of. Somewhere is a really big pile of wedding invitations, Christmas cards and shower invites...
   This past weekend was another reminder of how loved CJ and I are. His baby shower in Aurelia was Saturday and the support was overwhelming!  If someone had told the teenage me that this is how life would turn out I might not have believed them. No matter how tough middle and high school may have been, the shifter of life would let the true supporters rise to the top.

   The shower itself was everything and more than I could have ever imagined. The love and the hugs, surrounded by a group of women (and Greg) who care about me and my son.  I haven't had the chance to experience my own wedding; but having Emily there and through this entire journey is the best maid of honor like support system a girl could ask for. I have to say Apollo was the most engaged guest there, which is so perfect that a kid lover like me would have a 7 mo old watching every moment!

Check out the Shutterfly book my brother made!

Much love 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

This stuff really happens

I was getting my nails done with a friend before school started up again and my nail guy asked where I had been. Bet he didn't anticipate my answer!  I surely didn't expect the lady next to me to leave this note and pay for my nails!

Monday, January 6, 2014

I don't care, or do I

   I touched on the topic of questioning related to being a single parent/raising a child with special needs/my child who doesn't look like me on CJ's CaringBridge site.  I have not had many experiences yet relating to actually dealing with people asking me questions about CJ's family unit or complexion.  Though I have gotten the usual round of questions about what I am going to do when I do get asked these questions, along with "did you consider what others would think?"

   My response is that I do not care what others think, and for the most part that is a true statement.  If there is ever a point where I do actually care or the thoughts of others actually has an impact on me; the honest truth is that I care more about my little family than I do the unsolicited views of others.  This being said, I am always open for new responses to the usual round of questions!

Support Team

   There is no way I could be CJ's mom, or at least do a decent job at it without those who have been so supportive.  I text out a who wants to cuddle a baby message and I get more than one offer!  I have a friend who is offering to baby sit on a daily basis; ok more than one friend.  One of the things I have appreciated maybe the most, is in place of the usual "let me know what I can do" comment, hearing the "this is what I can do and I am doing it".

   I don't dare begin to list individuals, because I know I will leave someone out.  So thank you a million from CJ and I!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

God Found Me You

   A dear friend gave CJ a perfect book entitled God Found Us You.  It is one I have already read to him many times and I have a feeling will soon become a much loved on book.  While reading the book to CJ tonight as he fell asleep (again for anyone who as met him, you know he sleeps alot!), I was thinking over the multiple times I have shared his adoption story over the past few weeks.

   About the time foster care had been placed on my heart, my dream to adopt a newborn baby with Down syndrome was also placed on my heart.  I was thinking when I was 35 or 40 and either was married or had decided to start my family without Prince Charming.  After completely foster care classes, while waiting to get a call for my first kid, I signed up with the NDsAN - National Down syndrome Adoption Network.

   Earlier in the week - Thing 1 sees my Reece's Rainbow Christmas Angel Tree ornaments on my counter and asks about them.  I tell her they are babies who don't have moms (orphans with Ds in China).  She proceeds to inform me that I should be the mom.  I explain that they don't think I am grown up enough (China requires you be 30 yrs of age).  She continues to insist I should be their mom. 

   Nov. 13th - Thing 1 turns five and we have a cupcake party at our house.  She and her brother go to bed before really having a chance to play with their new toys.  Earlier in the day, mid afternoon to be exact, a baby boy had been born in Tampa, FL.

   Nov. 14th - At school I notice I have an email from Stephanie at NDsAN asking me to call her.  My first thought is what did a do wrong??  She says there is a baby boy just born with Ds and asks if I am interested in being one of the options birth mom chooses from. I say sure, not thinking I have a chance but wanting to always at least turn the key on every door in life.  I mention it to my gals at school, but don't really give it much thought outside the on going communication with Stephanie.  I wasn't going to let any information about his health turn me away, but I also wasn't going to get my hopes up, because really I am a young and single gal.

   Nov. 15th - 5pm I call Stephanie back and she tells me that this baby boy is mine!  That birth mom picked me over 5 other married couples because "I looked like a nice gal".  OMG!  I sat in the parking lot and called my mother.  Then I picked up Thing 1 and 2 to take them to their mom's for the weekend.  Early on in the drive, I (Bluetooth) call a friend to share my crazy news.  Thing 1 wants to know details and proceeds to inform me from the back seat that I "can't come back unless I am this baby's mommy".  We talk about how this means I can't care for them come the end of their weekend with their parents.  She is more than ok with that and says I should go get this baby.

  Nov. 16th and 17th - I run around like crazy and only stay sane because Emily is my brain the entire weekend.  It is decided that my dad is coming with me; that we are driving; and that we will leave early in the week.

   Nov. 18th and 19th - Dad drives (I drove through the state of Illinois) and I sleep.  We arrive in Tampa during the evening of the 19th.  Exactly one year to the date of me going to the hospital to pick up A-E.

   God had found me CJ and the rest may not be history, but is documented via CaringBridge.  CJ stands for Charles James Galvin.  My grandfather is Charles Jr and my late grandfather was James.  I knew Charlie wasn't going to work as his name because that is what grandpa goes by and I didn't want him to be called Jim or Jimmy.  In the end CJ represents both men, and will be easy for him to say/spell/read/write!  

   Miss C calls him baby Charlie or baby CJ.  She may be the only person who gets away with 1. calling him Charlie and 2. calling him baby anything much past his first few months of life.  And I would not have it any other way!       


   With the slightly failed attempt at breast feeding, we did have success with the SNS system.  Even with the nothing by mouth guidelines, my expanded comfort zone has allowed for bonding between baby and I; including reproducing the sucking while being fed concept that other wise would be limited to the pacifier.  The past two days, when CJ is upset, the sole key to calming him has been letting him fall asleep laying against me.

Catching up

   I have documented my foster care journey, I created a profile for adoption through NDSAN, and I kept all up to date on CJ's medical journey.  What a whirlwind year it has been!  As 2014 begins, I continue to think about the idea of blogging about being CJ's mom; being a single adoptive mother of a baby boy with Down syndrome, that happens to be of a different ethnic background than mine.

  I attempted to keep the CaringBridge webpage family friendly and something I would be ok with my grandmother reading.  Actually both of my grandmothers and my mother as they are all active on the web.  What didn't make the cut was the bonding and attachment components, like anxiety or my attempt to breast feed.

   We shall begin with the crazier of the two topics.  I had been doing kangaroo care aka CJ snuggling against my skin...with my bra on...with a shirt or blanket over top.  CJ was blessed to have two nurse Debbies on his team and one day I mention to Debbie #2 that I was going to kangaroo during a tube feeding.  She, being free spirited, makes a comment about taking my bra off in relation to the fact that I was turning the rocking chair around.  I was thinking more along the lines that I am so modest that the big window overlooking the hallway into the rest of the NICU was a bit much.  But I am one to try anything I tried it.  She, being really free spirited, comments about him sucking.  Once again, why stop now, so I give that a try too.  Before you know it I am researching adoptive mothers who have breast fed.  The experience derailed a bit when CJ failed his swallow study and could no longer take anything by mouth.  Even so, I enjoyed the opportunity and gained knowledge on the topic. 

-I had no desire to use prescription medication to jump start the process.  The staff in the NICU didn't quite understand that my OBGYN has no idea who I am and that I couldn't just call her up from 1500 miles away.
-Besides prenatal vits. I didn't even try herbal medications.  The result of my limited attempt was longer finger nails.
-I did pump but quickly decided doing it every 2-3 hours for 15 minutes was really taking away from life and my time with CJ considered the small chance it was even going to work at all.