Thursday, August 30, 2012


I am beyond frustrated right now. Mike FINALLY got in touch with the office manager of the counselor who treated us so poorly recently. Click here to read about it if you missed it. Mike spent three weeks trying to reach her. He said the conversation was civil but that the office manager said she believes the counselor's version of events and that nothing was out of line. I shouldn't be shocked, I guess.

She also said they would not refund our money. We paid $100 for that session, in addition to whatever they charged our insurance because it was technically for Autumn and she hadn't reached her individual deductible amount. The manager said that even if the service was unsatisfactory, that we received it and while it is in our right to initiate a chargeback through the credit card company, they will turn our bill over to a collections agency for nonpayment. Which is their right, too, I guess, even if it is entirely obnoxious.

I'm not entirely certain what to do from here. We prayed about it tonight, even though I was extremely grouchy about praying, and I'm not going to do anything right now. Mike doesn't want to pursue the financial end because we are trying to refinance our house and get adoption grants and we don't need the collections hassle. But says he will leave it up to me to handle things like reviews and possibly reporting the counselor (who is actually a licensed clinical social worker) to the board of health.

Does anyone have any experience with this kind of thing? Am I being too mama bear/Super Sharaze of Justice or is this something worth pursuing? At a minimum, I'm considering naming the counselor on this blog post and the first one so that if anyone Googles her, they'll find my story. My therapist friend says that as long as I keep it in "I" form (as in, "this was my experience, I won't be returning" rather than, "you shouldn't go there because she's a moron), reviews on review sites would keep it on the "not liable" side of things. But I don't know. This whole thing is just ridiculous.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Need Moar Exercise

A friend posted a short rant about people who wear, like, minidresses to funerals. It was a great rant but for some reason, it brought back some of the feelings I had at Garrett's funeral in a way that took my breath away. It's strange how it comes back real, I guess. Kind of like last week when I picked up some photos from Walgreens. I normally get them from Costco but I needed some quickly for a kindergarten project (already!) and Walgreens is closer. Someone mixed up the orders and I opened up the envelope to find black and white 5x7s of a newborn baby boy. I think I actually gasped aloud. Bleh.

Vaguely related, earlier this month, I came across an interesting article about exercise and depression related to heart failure. I think it's fascinating how movement can often help the body and the mind heal. I know anecdotal evidence isn't worth a ton but I've certainly seen how movement can heal.

This week I'm going to start focusing on studying for my fitness exam. I'm a little intimidated by the anatomy portions of the study guide BUT I BELIEVE IN ME. Ha! Mike did my body fat measurements. We did the first set like 25 days ago so we've been bad about keeping up. With Autumn's school schedule making things crazy, I haven't done a ton of working out other than teaching. But, last week, I went back to my regular schedule (except for the weekend when Mike and I were sick). All that to say...not much has changed! I didn't even bother taking pictures. Here's the original set:

Weight: 109
Tricep: 21 mm
Suprailiac: 27 mm
Thigh: 26
Total Body Fat %: 28.59

And as of yesterday:
Weight: 109
Tricep: 21 mm
Suprailiac: 26 mm
Thigh: 26mm
Total Body Fat %: 28.28

The change is miniscule but still a change, I guess!

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Little Things

Our community group has been going through a book called A Praying Life and I cannot recommend the book enough. It's incredible. We all agree that when we read it, it isn't like...I don't know, an ooooh-ahhhh kind of thing. Like reading CS Lewis or something. I have read more scholarly books. I have read more detailed books. I have never read a book that has had such a direct effect on my personal life.

We started the book because we were all pretty convicted about the states of our prayer lives--or lack thereof--when doing the chapter on prayer in our regular curriculum. We started talking about having a summer of prayer when our lead pastor mentioned this book and that it had changed his life. It was a sign!

So, we have spent the summer reading and praying. I've started keeping a calendar with prayer requests from people and with people and situations I'm praying for. I can't say there's been this huge, crazy list of miracles, but I've enjoyed seeing prayers answered from kids having good first days of school to work situations improving. And I am eagerly anticipating the answers to some big prayers like finding jobs and our adoptions.

Wednesday night, I asked everyone to pray for Autumn. She's been really struggling in some ways. School starting has been hard on her, although for the most part she is enjoying it. She's also frustrated that the adoption hasn't happened yet. And she thinks too much...Monday when we were getting ready for ballet, she tilted her head and asked me if our adopted baby would die like baby Garrett.

Heartbreaking! I told her I didn't know because, and she interrupted and said, "everyone dies. Sometimes they are old and sometimes they are not." And I added that because we love Jesus, we get to see the others who love Jesus in Heaven. And she said, "okay." And nodded firmly.

Plus she's been having to walk from the school entrance to her class alone and many times she'll spend the walk from the car to the school talking about how afraid she is. And I know she is. It's partly why she's in Occupational Therapy. We often talk about how bravery is being scared but doing it anyway. Yesterday we told silly knock knock jokes for the whole walk. When we get to the front of the school, some days she cries. Some days she clings and then turns around and waves sadly.

Well, today was pretty wonderful. She was scared. And I don't feel great today so Miss Empathy didn't feel well either. Autumn walked up pretty well because she had seen a friend and got to wave at her. But at the door she started to cry and talk about how she is afraid of all the people. I gave her a hug and noticed her classmate, the one Autumn had waved at, was behind us. So, I said, "maybe you can walk in with Ella!" And then Ella walked over, put her hand out and said, "can we walk in together?" Autumn put her hand into Ella's, grinned at me, and went in without looking back.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Interesting Info

I came across this little article snippet in one of the LifeLine magazines I got recently. I've had a few people express surprise that more boys are up for adoption than girls in China. Here's the short of it:

Friday, August 17, 2012


Growing up I was always terrified of thunder storms. And heaven help us if the tornado sirens went off. I'd have a full blown panic attack. As I've gotten older, I'm not quite so jumpy but I do have a tendency to casually watch the news or my phone's weather app when the weather's looking wild.

Last night, we had a storm roll through and it was something else. I haven't heard thunder like that in a long time. There weren't any warnings or anything so I just curled up in a ball behind Mike and tried not to freak out about it.

Not unexpectedly, I heard little Miss calling for me and I told her to come on into our room. I have a lot of sympathy for her fear of the weather because I remember vividly feeling the same way.

Once she climbed in with us, I felt better. Sandwiched between Mike, freshly home from a rare business trip, seemingly unconcerned by the storm, and Autumn, for whom I needed to be brave, suddenly I wasn't afraid.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A New Fitness Series

Mike had a pretty good idea. Since I'm about to start teaching A LOT, both aikido and other classes, and I'm going to pick up some extra fitness classes to learn a little more about teaching them, he thought it might be interesting to start doing another fitness photo series. We have one kind of neat thing to add to it this time around. Mike bought some calipers that measure body fat percentages earlier this year when he was on a big fitness kick. I think I mentioned that before. It's really great to see him excited about eating right and exercising, even if it does occasionally drive me crazy since he's so excited about things I've been telling him for years. Ha! That's how it usually is, though, right?

For anyone who might be new to the blog, this was my first fitness post: Creeping Around the Track. I wrote that not quite two months after one abdominal surgery and a major blood transfusion. I had just gotten off blood pressure meds. And this was my first post with fitness pictures, just over a month after a hernia repair: Taking the Next Step.

It's amazing looking back at those posts today and I'm so glad I chronicled that journey. I'm really feeling quite well, way better than I anticipated after all the trauma of last summer. I am still tire more easily than I used to but I am accomplishing a ridiculous amount of things compared to how little I could do this time last year. So I can stand needing a nap here and there and occasionally having to go to bed very early. Oh, wow, you know what? I just realized that it will be a year ago tomorrow that I had hernia surgery!! Craziness. I need to slow down a little more and be thankful for everything I am doing today!

Back to the numbers, though, Mike has started a document charmingly titled Sharaze Body Fat. We have GOT to pick a new name for that, for real. We took these measurements last Monday and we'll do another set this Monday. Oh, and click here to see the calculator and measurements spots if you're interested.

Weight: 109
Tricep: 21 mm
Suprailiac: 27 mm
Thigh: 26
Total Body Fat %: 28.59

So I'm average in the body fat percentage. I might do regular measurements with the next set of stats because I found that fascinating last time around. I'm pretty pleased with how I look (again, I'm functioning and in most of my old clothes, what's there to complain about!) but I wouldn't mind losing a couple inches in my torso so I can get into a couple of dresses I used to love. Here are the photos. I did an awful job photographing and I also did an awful job of dusting the mirror. T_T I hate dusting!

I took a picture in this dress I'd really like to wear but it doesn't quite sit right on me. I don't know if you can tell, I know I can but I look at me all the time, but there's a bit of a groove down the middle of my stomach from the surgery. I kind of wonder if that'll go away one day.

I'm excited about this new chapter! And a little scared because it seems like so much is changing with my teaching schedule rapidly filling, Autumn going to school, and Mike looking at a potential promotion. All good things. But a little scary. It'll be okay, though. We have the Butterfly Fairy to keep us sparkly!

Obviously, I couldn't resist posting that!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

What is up with these last few days??

It's been a nice, peaceful morning. I skipped church this morning, which probably isn't the best way to begin a post on Sunday morning but there you go! Mike was going to be serving in the nursery and my job in the kids' ministry is on break this month so I told him I thought I wanted to stay home and have some alone time before the craziness of the week starts. So, Mike and Autumn went together, blowing kisses at me as I saw them off. So sweet.

But it's been good. I had tea and crackers for breakfast, had a quiet time, read a little bit of a book, and didn't really feel guilty about any of it! Because it's been such an emotionally difficult week/ten days, I really spent some time praying about all of it.

I prayed for the counselor we had an altercation with and tried not to do it in a self-righteous way. I told God that I felt bad for losing my cool. That I was worried about other people she might do this to. That I don't know why I'm so lingeringly upset about the situation and I haven't the slightest idea why I can't trust that He's in control when He shows me all. the. time. that no matter how crappy life is, He's got this. I still don't feel better but I feel like I'm going in the right direction.

To tell the story, the counseling session just started out wrong. It was our second visit and, apparently, she didn't review our chart before coming and didn't remember basic things like Garrett's death, that Autumn's separation anxiety is because of my hospital stay, or that we were there for Autumn's social anxiety and, potentially, grief processing. She had us tell her why we were there " told us to?" She had wanted a couple sessions as a family and a couple with Autumn alone which made sense to me. I let her know that Autumn had started occupational therapy for her sensory processing disorder and gave her the papers that we and Autumn's teachers had filled out. The counselor read over them and kept saying, "she's totally normal! No ADHD! All normal kid stuff!" Her manner was hyper and she didn't seem to be able to really focus on what we were saying.

But, here's where it went weird. Weirder. Rather than having a dialogue and getting a baseline of what our home life is like, she pulled out a stack of papers stapled together, handed one to me and one to Mike and spent the next hour reading it to us. She told us that we could take or leave whatever we wanted and we might be doing the things on the list. But when we would tell her we were doing it all (we have a routine, a bed time, a chore chart, transition time, a reward system, we respect each other, we don't spank), she'd get agitated and argue with us and tell us why what we did wasn't good enough (you shouldn't let Autumn pick her fuzzy for the fuzzy jar, you should hand it to her--really??). And a lot of what we went over were things she and I had already discussed in the first session.

I have to confess that I let myself get frustrated. Mike and I were both baffled by the entire session because we've had counseling before and it's never been something where the counselor reads us a sheet verbatim and doesn't actually ask us anything or dialogue with us or even have a meaningful discussion of why we felt like we needed her help. Maybe she's just used to parents who are completely incompetent and that's why their kids are having troubles? But all she had to do was ask us some questions!

By the end of the session of reading to us, I asked her what, exactly, is the course of therapy going to be. Because she looked over Autumn's papers from teachers, doctors, and us and kept saying Autumn's normal. She was glad Autumn is getting OT for her sensory issues. She read us a parenting 101 sheet and pretty much said, that with small exceptions, we're doing it all. So what will the next family session look like? I've asked my counselor that before when we didn't have anything to talk about and it's never been a problem.

This counselor became belligerent and berated me for wanting quick fixes. Which I don't. And I told her that. Heaven knows, after all we've been through we know there aren't quick fixes. And Mike backed me up on that. I knew I sounded frustrated so I took a deep breath, apologized to her and told her I was not trying to be mean or insulting, it's just that I don't understand what the process is and would like to know. Rather than calming down, she got more angry and told me that she was insulted because all I got out of the session was the thing about the fuzzies. I still don't understand why was she so angry--she even told us we didn't have to do everything exactly like the sheet! She hit her papers and raised her voice at us, telling us that 75% of parents say they do these things but don't and one tiny change could make the difference! And this after I told her (again--because we talked about that in the first session she had forgotten or didn't note it) about how part of the reason we were there is that Autumn is so empathetic that she feels everything everyone feels around her!
Even Mike was freaked out so he said, "look, you say Autumn appears normal. She's getting occupational therapy for her sensory stuff. It sounds like Sharaze and I are doing well with our home life so if the OT doesn't solve her issues, then we can find therapy again." The counselor was talking in this very high pitched, agitated voice, pursing her lips, and saying things like FINE. It was the last straw for me so I told her that IF we get more counseling for Autumn, it will not be at that location because I need a counselor who is not so easily offended. She said something I can't remember and started writing furiously so Mike stood up and said, "okay, that's enough for today."

Mike had a great point: surely she deals with people more difficult than Mike and I on a daily basis. So what the heck happened?? A friend who is a therapist at a local rehab center thinks that the counselor probably had a bad day and possibly was upset because we had called her on her not-counseling and that he wonders how many people she's been milking money out of over the years. And that it's good we didn't go along with it all. But I still feel all funky and I don't know why it bothers me so much. I think it might be my sense of JUSTICE and my indignation because all I wanted was to help Autumn cope a little better with everyday life and this counselor, who is with a highly recommended group, was a huge failure. I'm also really disappointed in myself for not keeping my cool with her because I had been doing so well and not letting my anger get the best of me. The whole thing's just bizarre.

Friday, August 10, 2012

What Made My Day...

This day keeps trying to be bad BUT IT WON'T MAKE IT. Because I got a spectacular surprise this morning. One of my closest and oldest friends called me to tell me her baby was born. I was so excited I didn't even think about asking Christine her new daughter's name until we were almost done. And guess what??  



Part of me is like, you poor kid. Because Sharaze is pretty unspellable and unpronounceable (it's pronounced like it rhymes with maze, by the way) but it's oddly...awesome to know there's another out there. And that it's her name because someone loves me enough to want it to live on. :D Even better? They are going to call her Lucy which is one of my absolute favorite names but we can't, obviously, have a Lucy Colley. She'd never forgive us! I will wait until Christine gives me permission to post a pic (I get to make the birth announcement!) so for now, have one of Christine, Christy, and me at Chuck E. Cheese about 10,000 years ago (that would be "feels like that long ago" years!):

I bet those two had no idea I still had that picture!

Later in the day, we had a truly terrible visit with Autumn's counselor who we will NOT be seeing ever again. Even Mike who is way, way nicer than I am is planning to call the office administrator on Monday and get our money back on that session. BUT I don't want to talk about it on the same page as Baby Lucy! :D So you know you have a nice, juicy post coming up, hahaha.

THIS DAY WILL BE A GOOD DAY. ::chanting:: Because of baby Lucy and because Autumn's treat for filling her chore jar? Cupcakes!! We made chocolate ones, colored some cream cheese icing pink, and then Autumn sang to them while they cooked to make sure they would be extra good. HOW SWEET IS THAT??

She is, by the way, so tickled about Christine's new baby that she's been telling everyone about "baby Sh'raze Lucy!" Autumn did have a bit of disappointment when the "there's a new baby!" call wasn't for our baby, as she calls our soon to be little one but she recovered nicely. :) I think I might like that little miss.

Monday, August 6, 2012

We did it!

I can't leave a grouchy post at the top. :) Check out who started school today!

I didn't cry! I'm so proud of myself! It was completely tear free all around. I'm so proud of my big girl! Now that it's over, I'm really glad. The anticipation of school starting was worse than the reality for both Autumn and me. Autumn made it through the day with just one hiccup at lunch where she got a bit overwhelmed by the noise and kids but she moved on and it was simply part of the narrative of her day. I got a lot done, spent some time reading, and the fact that kindergarten was supposed to be when Garrett and I had some time together didn't really overshadow the day. Thank you all for your support and prayers through all of this!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

An Out of the Blue What Not to Say...

This post needs a dose of lovely owls!

I think this week is out to get me. Actually, that's completely not true because we had a great day today at a pool party with new friends. Autumn was even social with some girls a few years older than she is! I did, however, get sick afterward, probably from not enough food and getting too hot BUT STILL. It was a good day.

Thursday, though? Oh, it was a day to punch people.

I'm pretty sure I'm going back to my old doctor. I had to stop seeing her when I got pregnant with Garrett because she stopped doing ob not long after Autumn was born. Don't get me wrong, I love the doctor she referred me to. I might not be alive today or even as healthy as I am without that doctor. But her office? Awful. I didn't have many problems with them during the pregnancy, other than an extremely grouchy ultrasound tech. But I think I've mentioned here that there was a ton of drama trying to get the results back on my genetic tests and my hematology reports that were going to tell us if we could/should have any more children. It ended with Mike parking himself in the middle of the office until someone finally told the doctor we had been mercilessly pestering them. The doctor ended up talking to Mike for like 2 hours and he was so happy with their interaction that he encouraged me to go back for my yearly check ups.

Then Thursday happened. They have a setup where you do triage and a nurse takes your blood pressure and weight then you wait again and the doctor's nurse comes to get you and then you see the doctor. Kind of annoying but whatever.

I went to the booth when was my turn in triage and the nurse went, "LONG TIME NO SEE!!! HOW IS THAT BAYBEE??"

I just sighed and closed my eyes. "Which baby?"

"THE ONE YOU JEST HAYAD!" (I don't remember if she really had a heavy accent but when I remember this in my head it helps to remember her in all caps and with a truck stop waitress accent)

"You mean the one who died?"

She was all, "ohmahgawshahmsosorry" which, fine. But then she decided. to. look. through. my. chart. to make sure we were talking about the same baby. AS IF I WOULDN'T REMEMBER.

"Don't you have another baby?"

"Yes, but she's five." (resisting, at this point, the urge to lose my mind)

An I'm sorry and move along would have been enough but then she's all quiet and serious and "did you get counseling?" Oh, my gosh! So not your business! I told her we were doing as well as could be expected and that we have a good support network. Then she changed the subject to ask if my shoes were comfortable. This moment needs a Japanese emoticon: (ノಠ益ಠ)ノ

I went back to the waiting room where, of course, there were about 400 million visibly pregnant women (more like 3 but hyperbole is more fun) and then nurse COMES BACK, touches my leg (for those of you who don't know me in person, I'm not really a "hey, you should totally touch me!" person) and goes, "I hope I didn't make you feel bad." By now I was pretty grouchy because one of the 400 million pregnant women was sitting right next to me so I said, "Well, you know, it's hard enough to be here with all these pregnant people so it was going to be no fun ANYWAY."

When I told the doctor what happened, she was properly horrified, called the nurse manager and they were both pretty adamant that there would be a reprimand and sensitivity training because just because someone's got an ob card, doesn't mean they have a baby to go with it. And I am not really mad (much) but I can't even imagine her doing this to someone less...I don't know...grouchy and more weepy than I am.

And, while I appreciate that, I believe I will be going back to my old doctor. I plan to write the doctor who delivered Garrett a nice note thanking her for everything and I'll send her an adoption birth announcement (when we get to that point, of course, and no, we haven't gotten any calls--wah!) but that I just can't do the yearly office visit.

And, hopefully that's the end of the Week of Drama. I would like to ask you all to pray for two things. Other than the adoption, of course. Autumn starts kindergarten Monday and I am so not ready. And I'm also trying to get her an occupational therapy appointment at a local private practice for her sensory issues. I'm having a hard time getting them to call me back. I want this to work with them because our insurance covers their group 100% and I am not sure what I'll do if they don't work out. The other places are out of network and we'd have to pay 30% out of pocket which we obviously can't do. She doesn't have enough of a "disability" to qualify for school or state intervention so that's out. I'm trying very hard to leave all this in God's hands and just handle what I can handle as it comes but I'm not very good at that, even after all this time of being shown that #1, I can't control the world and #2, God takes care of me. Thank you all so, so much.