March (3/31/2008)
By March, Daddy had finished restructuring the Website, but Mommy had no time to work on pictures, much less to start writing the journal. And unfortunately March proved to be an incredibly busy and picture-filled month.

Dante’s second parent-teacher conference revealed steady improvement at school. His academic prowess was essentially evaluated as “Outstanding, goes beyond expectations”. His enrichment classes were mostly “acceptable, meets expectations”, with a few Outstandings mixed in. His personal, social and work skills had also improved and now also consisted of mostly Oustandings. The most interesting written comment from one of his teachers was that “Dante has the enviable ability of getting along well with everyone in the classroom.” We were very proud of him.

So it was a good thing that Dante’s new bed finally arrived.

Since Dante was giving up his old room to Izabela and upgrading to a new room, which used to be our library, Mommy and Daddy felt that to make the room feel more like an upgrade, Dante deserved to have his own bed, rather than sleep on the futon. We needed to wait until after we had the court date to know when to order the bed, and after enormous amounts of research and getting Mommy, Daddy AND Dante to agree on anything, the bed was ordered on August 7th, 2007 from a company called Kids Quarters, located in Florida. It was scheduled to arrive within a couple weeks of our return from Poland, right after October 15th. You must be looking at the title of this section and wondering “Aren’t we in March, 2008, now?” Indeed.

Delay after delay after delay. The bed was finally manufactured and sent to the shipping company, which was located in North Carolina, on December 21st. Apparently the shipping company doesn’t deliver to the West Coast very often. It was not until very late at night on March 6th (7 months after the initial order) that the bed finally arrived, sort of.

After taking stock of the gazillion pieces and boxes it came in, Mommy noticed the mattress had a hole in it. The whole thing just looked strange, but she fixated on the hole. Partly because, well, it was almost 2 am.

After consulting with Daddy, we decided we’d live with the hole because goodness only knows when they’d send us a new mattress. We marked the hole on the receipt and were going to “discuss it with the manufacturer”. They were supposedly already knocking off $180 from the price of the bed for the wait…

As soon as the truck left, Mommy went to inspect the mattress a bit further, as there were no obvious tags or anything on it.

To her great surprise, Mommy discovered the mattress had a sticker on it on the other side that said “Susan Hughes Order Number #9719”, and even better… it was a FULL size mattress (the bed is a twin). And realizing suddenly why the whole thing looked strange to her, Mommy checked the sales receipt and realized she had ordered a SPRING mattress, not what now became clear was a futon…

So Mommy called the guys on the truck, and they had just gotten down to HWY 203 after spending 20 minutes maneuvering their 50+ ft truck up in the Rimrock area. They were at a loss, but clearly we didn’t want Susan’s mattress. So Daddy kindly drove it down to them in the Jeep so they wouldn’t have to maneuver their monster back out here again in the dead of night. Perhaps someone in North Carolina couldn’t tell the difference between Hughes and Hays. Perhaps Susan Hughes has a twin sized spring mattress on her full sized futon and is very confused. Or maybe she still has another 4 months of waiting to get her mattress.

Daddy didn’t get home until 3:15 am because when he drove down there (with the wrong mattress), it turned out the truck’s battery had died. Being the nice person that he is, Daddy spent 45 minutes trying to jump a 50+ft truck with our Jeep. Needless to say it didn’t work. The guys slept there right off the highway.

So Mommy called Kids Quarters the following morning and spoke with good ole Edward, the customer service guy she’d been talking with for the last 5 months or so and told him the good news and the bad news. And he told her that he had bad news too.

Apparently as of March 5th, the company filed for bankruptcy. Nothing was leaving their warehouse, and no money was being refunded (the $180 he promised to knock off the delivery the day after it arrived would also not be happening). The mattress was $275.

So Mommy called the shipping company. After an hour or so, the woman called back and said they did in fact locate our mattress and that it would be on the first truck out here. Which unfortunately won’t be at least for another 3 weeks as most of their business is all East Coast. At least this was the shipping company’s fault, so they had to fix it. Of course they were going through the roof as well, because they just found out KidsQuarters filed for bankruptcy, which meant they wouldn’t get paid for any of their deliveries! In the meantime, we bought a used mattress on Craigslist for $50, which seems to be doing just fine.

Dante put his bed together with Daddy’s supervision and final tightening. Along the way they discovered that the bed was not actually the bed we had ordered (!!) and was missing the slide. After much disgust with the situation, everyone finally came to the conclusion that it was probably a good thing. We had known the slide part of it would eat into the room real estate a lot, and as we were planning on getting a playground structure, Dante agreed a bigger outdoor slide would be more fun than a small one in his room.

The bed was put together just in time for Dante to show it off to some of his friends at Izabela’s 2nd Birthday party. In an attempt to keep things under control and small, we invited people who had toddlers Izabela’s age. Since many of those had siblings Dante’s age, both parents came as well, and we once again found our home filled with lots of people. We prepared many activities for the little ones, and this time Dante helped Daddy MC the events, while Baba Yaga entertained the predominantly Polish parents with tea. It was wonderful to have so many friends share our joy at having Izabela in our lives. We thank you all for being so supportive.

Izabela’s Birthday was immediately followed by Mommy’s knee surgery, which went so well that Mommy didn’t feel any pain until 2 days later, at which point she realized just how strong the anesthetic had been, and was happy to spend another two days doped up on Oxycodone. Recovery progressed without incident for the time being.

And then it was Easter, which as you all know, is Dante’s favorite holiday. This year Dante and Izabela attended egg hunts in Monroe, Duvall, and then at Baba Yaga’s house on Saturday. Izabela got quite into the spirit of things as soon as we explained that the Easter Bunny had made a mess and the eggs needed to be cleaned up. Izabela loves the activity of cleaning up and chants “clean ak, clean ak” endlessly to herself, despite Mommy’s attempts to try to convince her that the word is really “up” not “ak”.

At her first hunt in Monroe, Izabela felt it more appropriate to clean up eggs and deposit them in the baskets of other toddlers rather than in her own. It was quite comedic to watch the dear little heart as she gave away quite a few of her eggs, much to Dante’s dismay. He lost no time in teaching her the benefits of keeping the eggs to herself when he presented her with a chocolate from within one of the eggs. As a result Izabela, who adores chocolate, became fervently engrossed in keeping her eggs to herself and had a hard time sharing them even with Dante. Dante’s age group hunt was messed up in Monroe, due to a miscommunication between hunt leaders, so he ended up going on an older kid hunt, and since the older kids were faster than he was and he didn’t return with very many eggs, Mommy and Daddy did not object to his sneaking into yet another, even older, hunt.

At the Duvall hunt Izabela knew what to do, and did a great job collecting her own eggs. So great, in fact, that it turned out she had a winning ticket inside one of the eggs and she ended up winning an adorable huge stuffed bunny. Dante won a bag full of candy and activities, so everyone emerged triumphant. Dante, of course, had the most fun after the hunts were over, as he combed the oldest kids’ area in the woods for eggs that had been too well hidden.

Baba Yaga’s house was also littered with eggs. And after they were all found, Dante decided he had to hide eggs for Baba Yaga to find, too!

But Easter cannot be complete without a home visit from the Easter Bunny. Dante, who had been anticipating his visit for months now, basically since right after Christmas, had an idea. Instead of writing a letter to Santa Claus, of whom he was still mildly afraid though he would be the last to admit it, he decided it would be more appropriate to write a letter to the Easter Bunny. He informed the Easter Bunny that he now had a little sister and that she would need to look for eggs in low places, but since he was bigger, he would like his eggs hidden in higher places. The Easter Bunny did, in fact, find the letter, and responded with one of his own. So Dante’s searches frequently involved getting on top of Daddy. Izabela, only really accustomed to having to pick up eggs lying on the grass, and mostly being able to see eggs hidden in Baba Yaga’s house, took some time getting used to the idea that she would actually have to go look inside of or under things to find her eggs. With Dante’s help (he did, after all, know a great many good hiding places from previous years) she found all her eggs, too. It is even possible that by next Easter this year’s candy will have actually been consumed.

The day after Easter was the Bellevue Children's Academy Pre-K and Kindergarten Science Fair. Unfortunately we were told the "instructions" the Friday before Izabela's birthday. By Wednesday his project proposal was due. Dante and Daddy decided on a topic, and Mommy had run to the store to get the required poster-board. But the rest of Easter Day was consumed with scientific endeavors. The project was the culmination of a lot of talking, experimenting with marbles, and basically 6 hours of actual write-up/presentation. The "experiment" was Dante's idea as we all know he adores his marble rollercoaster from Dziadzi. Daddy refined the hypothesis a bit so there wouldn't be a zillion variables (Dante wanted to do enough different momentum transfer experiments to fill several weeks of Physics Labs at Stanford). Dante built the track after Daddy convinced him it didn't need to be 2 feet tall (and thus very unstable). Daddy monitored everything and made sure the scientific process was being followed. Dante did everything including figuring out how to use double sided tape to get the papers to stick to his presentation board. It was a good learning experience for Dante (who learned about the scientific method), as well as for Daddy (who learned a great deal more PATIENCE). Dante’s experiment, model, and write up were well received at school.

BCA also celebrated this month by having an all school party at the Bellevue Skate King roller-skating rink. Dante, who had never been skating before, discovered he really enjoyed it even if he did spend more time on the ground than actually skating. Not many of his classmates were there, but he did find Avny, with whom he spent most of his time laughing in the center of the rink, doing what amounted to slapstick comedy (every time she was up, he was down, and vice versa).

Somewhere during all of this Izabela had her two year wellness visit, at which she received more shots and clearly impressed the doctor with her progress. Dante also received the last of his vaccinations, and was ecstatic that he would not have to get any more until he turned 11.

Near the end of the month, we were finally able to schedule our first Adoption Post Placement Report Interview. After months of trying to find a date mutually agreeable to us and to our Home Study social worker, who was constantly out of the country, he referred us to someone spending more time locally, and we were able to agree on a time with little difficulty. The interview went very well and as it took place at home, Izabela was comfortable in her surroundings and warmed to the social worker almost immediately. She and Dante spent the entire time bouncing around in the ball pit while the adults attempted to talk. She was in constant smiles, which for her is rather unusual. Perhaps she sensed what was going on more than she let on.

Last but not least, our landscaper, Paul Sayers, was finally able to begin work on our epic hedge maze. A week of clearing, leveling, measuring, re-measuring, planting, and 196 schip laurel bushes later, our hedge maze was planted. And as luck would have it, it immediately began to snow and it was time to bring out the sled again.