Tuesday, June 30

My shopping trips

This one's for Jaimie... because she asked :)

When I take all 4 kids shopping I almost always bring the triple stroller. Occasionally I've done it without the 3rd seat, but not on purpose!! Brianna sits in the 3rd seat (front) about 99% of the time because 1- she'll sit up the entire time, and 2- she doesn't chew on the front bar of it :) And those would be what Emma and Micah do when they sit there... for very short periods of time.

Kristopher is great and he walks with me or rides in the basket of the cart until there's no room for him to sit well in there. I usually get him involved and ask him to get specific things or I'll hand him things to put in the cart. He likes helping and it gives him something to do so he's not just wandering around with us and bored.

If I only have Emma with me, as I occasionally did during the school year when the other 3 were at the church, I would push her in her wheelchair. Unfortunately, the new wheelchair is a little harder to steer with one hand... but it's ok, I can throw a foot or elbow in there on occasion and we make it work!

I always push the stroller or wheelchair and pull the cart. We might look like a parade, but my kids behave wonderfully at the store and like being out and about! Sometimes I will go after the kids have had dinner, or even after bed, if I wasn't up to it (or have time for it) during the day and we need groceries. Those trips are about 30 min shorter, on average, and I don't get home quite as exhausted, but since the kids are always so good when we go as a family I think it's a good experience for them to continue to have.

I'm sure once school starts I will be grocery shopping while the kids are at school most of the time, so we'll enjoy these outings while we have the chance to make them!

PS On the rare occasion that we ALL go out to grocery shop or to stores, we usually bring just the triple and one of us takes the cart, the other the stroller, but if we're going to be walking around at a mall or outdoor shopping center, we often bring the stroller and wheelchair because it allows everyone a better 'view' and also lets us split up the kids between us a little more if we're trying to feed them or whatever :)

Monday, June 29

Our kids' names

Right now we have:
Emma Hope
Kristopher Isaiah
Brianna Elizabeth
Micah Daniel

Hope that helps :) Thanks for all the great suggestions, keep 'em coming!

Names names names...

Anyone want to suggest some NAMES??

We'd like something fairly recognizable, definitely gender-specific (girl), and not super popular as far as a name that's either the new top 10 or one that there are always 10,000 in every school classroom (Jessica, Jennifer, Amanda...).

And for a middle name, we want either a Biblical female, or another 'word' that has a Biblical backing, such as Emma Hope :)

So... thoughts??

When is the best time

for a 5 yr old to decide to pull up your shirt in public to 'show' someone the baby??

Of course it would be at Lowe's with a weird man talking to us that had me creeped out BEFORE K decided to show off my tummy.

Ah... the joys of 5 yr olds. YIKES!

PS... it only makes it better that I wasn't wearing maternity pants, but rather low-rise shorts that still fit... yeah... timing..

Our weekend...

Yesterday was one of those days I'd rather just forget happened. I didn't sleep the night before, had gotten 'close' several times then would wake up in pain from my hips and not be able to go back to sleep. Emma woke and clinked her head against the crib for a while then as I'd decided to get up and take care of it, she'd stop. Only to start about 20-30 min later... My stomach was upset, my mind was whizzing, I was in pain, and there was just NO sleep.

No sleep doesn't go well for me now. So I sat in bed while life happened around me, upset and irritable and not the best company. After Kristopher conked heads with Emma while playing with Daddy he decided to come sit with me, though and we built a K'Nex robot that he'd gotten for his birthday. A few more projects with direction and he'll be able to do them alone. This was his first real attempt at it but he loved using the screws and nuts and little wrench and screwdriver to put together something 'real' and have it turn out nice in the end. Still a little above him for some parts, but he really did great.

Mike replaced our disposal yesterday. It's been a year+ since it worked right... and the past 4-6 months we've not used it at all, just cleaned it out occasionally but kept a 'catch basket' over it and pretended it wasn't there. $100 and about 30 minutes after he got home from Lowes we now have a new, working, garbage disposal on our sink. And yes, he took all 4 kids with him to Lowe's. He is a good guy :)

On Saturday I got a few of my "honey do" projects done. Yes, *I* got them done, but that's ok, they're done! :) First we went to NINE stores. Yes, literally. We were looking for a clothes rod to add a second row to a closet, cross-bars for the van roof rack, and a few other little things. Wal-Mart ended up providing us with a re-stock of baby food and some popcorn chicken for lunch. Nothing we were looking for. Target I picked up a pair of cute sneekers for Micah in the next size up marked at 75% off... so they were $3.50, and a beach ball for the pool along with a small milk to mix Micah's bottle. Nothing we were looking for either. Lowes we finally did find a closet bar, brackets, and middle support. Then we went to 2 auto stores, a bike store, a hardware store, Sears' auto dept and we stopped at the library because it was on the way and I'd just finished my last bargain buy book. I got a new book to read-- which because I sat around yesterday is now 3/4 of the way read. I also picked up a Paddington Bear book to read to Kristopher and we borrowed "Underdog" (DVD) which is being returned today. Oh, and a drive through Dairy Queen for some Blizzards and ice cream cups :)

So... afternoon came and we hadn't bought cross bars for the van. Hadn't found a single set actually. Mike used some 2x4s and got the kayak onto the van, though. It worked! For now... I installed the "door stoppers" that latch that I bought 2 months ago and never had the time/energy to install. I also put up the closet rail with some help from Michael. He screwed the 'adjustable' rail in place so that it couldn't resize itself and fall down.

Then, Mike got a trip out on the kayak and enjoyed himself. We'd bought him a life vest on Friday night when we went out- Outdoor World didn't have the cross-beams for the van either... We also picked up a life vest for Kristopher because it's inevitable that one day he'll convince Daddy to put him in the 'luggage' spot of the kayak and take him out on the water.

Today is a "therapy day". Emma's teacher comes for her last ESY class this morning and then E and M both have therapy at the center this afternoon. Emma has a 45 minute PT session and Micah has a 30 minute OT and a 30 minute PT session. Thankfully they overlap by 30 minutes :)

This evening Mike starts his LAST CLASS for his Master's! In 8 weeks he will be FINISHED!! He's so glad to be closing in on being done. SO AM I! :) He'll be done with classes 2-3 weeks before the baby is supposed to arrive. None too soon! Which also means that she will be here in just 10 weeks. WOW. 3/4 of the way there!

Friday, June 26

And I lived to blog about it...

This week we've had company three times :)  Tuesday was a monthly 'get together' with other young families that are local.  The families that can come, do, and we've had 6 or 7 families participate in the last 3 months.  This time there were 3 other families and ours, totaling 5 adults and 10 kids.  Brianna and Kristopher being the oldest by a good year and the other 8 kids were all (almost) 2 to 4 years old!  We had a great time, though, and lived to tell about it...

Then yesterday we had Mike's birthday with 2 sets of grandparents.  Not a lot of company, but when 6 becomes 10 it's still a full house :)

And today, we had the CHAOS directors over with their families to swim and "Hot Wash" (go over how the program went and what we liked and didn't like about it, suggestions for change, etc..).  There were 8 kids and 7 directors, and I asked two friends to come and help with my kids- one in high school and one that's college age.

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Believe it or not... it was fun :)  I am VERY grateful for L and B for coming!  They made it work!!  Three of the kids could swim well, 2 could 'somewhat' swim, and then my 3 littler ones don't swim at all.  And instead of all the directors getting IN the pool... we sat in the sun (nearby the pool to watch the kids) and sweat :).  Not exactly sure why we did that... but we did.  So having L and B there with the kids to monitor them in the baby pool (outside the babyguard pool fence) and to bring them into the big pool one at a time... it was wonderful!  THANK YOU L AND B!! (Oh, and as you'll see below, Mike came home for a long lunch and hopped in the pool with the kids too... and tried out Emma's new float)

Also, our PT loaned us a "head float" for us to try out with Emma.  She has such a long torso that she can tip every floaty that we've tried her in.  The infant ones and even one made for 3-5 year olds just don't cut it.  She's WILD.  And, believe it or not, she's STRONG!  I'm so glad to be able to say that :)  But, she's also FEARLESS.  She'd put her head under water and not come up again even if she could do it herself.

On Wednesday evening Emma's PT brought the float by and we have it to use with her for a week to see whether it's something we want to "invest" in for Emma. 

So... what do you think??

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Thursday, June 25

Mike's Birthday Party

Mike's parents bought him a kayak for his birthday :)

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My parents gave him a check so he could buy the cross bars for his roof-rack for the kayak and to get a life vest.

And from us... he got two cards and two Heath bars :) 

Ok, really, we have set aside for Mike to replace his very old desktop computer with a new gaming machine.  But it's a 'combo gift' for Father's Day, his birthday, and his graduation- which he finishes his Master's classes for in the end of August!  But he's decided to hold off until he's at least halfway through this last class (he starts the last 8 week course on Monday) before ordering the computer so that he's not tempted to play with it instead of study :)

We were going to have cake and then get in the pool... but the thunder and lightning swayed that decision and we just hung out inside tonight.  I didn't get a pic of the cake, but it wasn't all that exciting.  Just a white cake with white icing and 'confetti' on top.  But it turned out really moist so I guess that beats looks any day! LOL

Tomorrow night we're getting away for a few hours right before bedtime and going to a late dinner and I have no idea what else we'll go do.  This weekend we may go back to Sea World or... Mike might take his new toy down to the river for a little time on his own.  Maybe both-- there are TWO days in a weekend.

Happy Birthday Michael, I love you!

Happy Birthday Michael!!

Michael, just a few days old...

First moments with Kristopher... hospital - delivery room (9)

First time meeting his baby girl  DSC08458

Snuggles with his 'new' 5 yr old- first meeting EmmaUkraine 008

The Baby in Blue- first few minutes meeting MicahUkraine 012

I had planned to do this for Father's Day, but... I spent the day with this special Daddy instead of posting :)  But these moments are a little piece of what makes him such a great person- and a wonderful father and husband.  The look on his face each time a new little one was placed in his arms...

Happy 28th Birthday, Michael!  I hope you have a wonderful day!  There are four very excited kids who can't wait to help make your birthday cake and celebrate with you this evening!

Wednesday, June 24

Adoption updates

Jacob

Jacob is home! :)

The family that has been 'stuck' in the system because their son is in an institution is waiting on more paperwork but otherwise ready to come HOME!

A Dad is in Ukraine to bring their son home but is "stuck" there due to some issues with the CDC and a question about TB (which he has no symptoms of).  Please pray they can get home soon!

The families adopting kids in the Kiev area are all visiting their children and doing well!  One had some hiccups with unexpected behaviors of a child they'd committed to but they have adjusted their plans and are doing well.  Please continue to pray for these families!

Some of our TEN families that have their paperwork in Ukraine (or enroute) waiting for it to be submitted or waiting for a travel date have received their travel dates! The ones with paperwork snags have all been accepted now!  One family is still waiting on their submission and it keeps being put off later so please pray for them.

Our family in Haiti- missionaries now- is doing well and I'm sure appreciate your continued prayers as they live this 'new life' while they await the completion of their son's adoption.

One family is in Serbia adopting their little girl right now!

There are several families set to travel in July as well to several different countries.

Please keep all these families covered in prayer!!

Aches, bedrooms, and updates

I have always been labeled accident prone, but goodness!  At 10 or so I walked through our hallway on my way to bed and bumped a floor length mirror that was leaning against the wall... requiring about 10 stitches.

At 12 I stepped on a pinecone at church camp and ended up in a cast and on crutches for 6 or so weeks.  At 13 I was sitting on the bench in a basketball game and the play landed on ME.  I bruised the bone in my shin and was on crutches for a few more weeks.  At 14?15? I stepped in a 'drain grate' in the high school parking lot during flag corps practice (walking backward, and it was a 6" drop off) and once again was in a cast for several weeks and on crutches for a few of those.  I think there was another instance with flag corps that I was in a cast but... I don't remember the details off hand.

But this last 2 months... yikes!  I 'sprained' (I think) the top of my right foot doing... nothing.  But it still is achy about 6 or so weeks later.  Then a week or two ago I broke my baby toe on a door frame.  It swelled, turned pretty colors, and is just now about back to looking normalish though when I got in the pool to swim the other day I realized it's definitely still sore.

Add on to that the lovely part of pregnancy that some get to bypass but lucky me got it all a bit 'early' this time instead.  Basically (sorry if it's TMI, you've been forewarned), my hips/pelvis hurt whenever I sit or lay with uneven pressure on them for even a few minutes.  Which means I wake up in some excruciating pain several times each night and end up on my back and then I don't sleep well anyway.   What a pain in the... well, it HURTS.

And yesterday, while making baked potatoes for 20... I burnt 2 of my fingers.  Like, 450 degrees between my pointer and middle finger on my right hand.  Blisters.  Pain.

Do you know how much you use those two fingers?  Showering? Changing diapers?  Dressing yourself or kids?  Eating? Brushing your teeth?  Picking up kids?  TYPING?

Ok, I'm done complaining... for now :) (and yes, my toe and other foot are mostly ok now I just notice them every once in a while).

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This week I've been working on moving some things around for the kids' rooms.  My parents are working on a bed for Emma and when it's ready, I wanted to have a place to actually PUT it.  Unfortunately, the bed we have for Brianna is 'oversized' because it is a sleigh style and it doesn't fit well except for ONE place in the room... which means it won't work with the bunk bed (Emma's bed) as well.

Through lots of drawings, measuring each of the 3 bedrooms and all the furniture in the house it seems, and trying to also figure in that baby girl will eventually need some space too, we came up with something that will work WELL for our family right now.  YAY!

Kristopher sleeps on the top bunk in his room and the bottom is empty.  Micah has been in a crib in there.  Now Brianna's moving in to the bottom bunk!  That takes care of her bed (it's leaving via garage sale probably or to a friend).  Micah and Emma will share a room.  The bunk bed and 2 cribs will fit fine in the room that was the girls' room.  I'll leave E's crib up even after her bed is ready and it will be for the baby. 

I also am moving all the dressers and clothes for the 4 kids into Kristopher and Brianna's room!  I'm adding a rail (or... Mike is...) to the closet and the 4 kids' clothes will all be in there.  The baby's dresser will be in the closet in the 'crib' room along with the 3 beds.  I think this will make laundry a lot easier too with the 4 older kids' clothes all in one room!

So far Brianna has napped once and slept 2 nights in the bunk bed.  Micah slept one night and one nap in the room with Emma.  And... when Micah gets up at 6am... EMMA SLEPT THROUGH IT! :) :)

Lastly, while I'm on the topic, I'm mixing the kids' rooms together a bit more with coloring... The room that was the boys' is beige on 2 walls, light blue on the other two.  The girls' room is lavender on 2 and beige on 2.  I'm not repainting!! :) I'm making some bedding for baby girl that is lavender and brown and making both rooms brown, lavender, and blue all together.  Basically just some new sheets and pillows... But it will be nice to have a 'theme' through those rooms since the princesses will be coming down-- or moved to be just at the girls' beds anyway! :)

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Updates... Micah is doing better eating after a week of being home.  I think he's showing his stubborn streak big time!  But this morning I watched him dancing and clapping to a song and I saw this toddler there... not the baby he has been.  His walking has really helped him with other developmental milestones as well!

Brianna isn't attached to my leg anymore and is back to her sweet self for the most part.  She's been a little better about eating too but it's always a struggle with her!  She understands SO much though and is doing great.

Kristopher is figuring out that his behavior has to get back on track and is doing a little better making better choices.  He spent quite a bit of time with me this last week which was good for us both.  He even went to see what Emma does in therapy and cheered her on down the hallway.  I hope we continue to see improvements there and I'm encouraged!

Emma has stopped the scratching and chewing again.  She was just all out of sorts while I was gone (based on the way her legs looked!) and for about 2-3 days after I got home still but she's 'regulating' again and doing well.  She had an awesome day at therapy on Monday and walked with a Kaye walker (with a lot of assistance) all the way down a hall and back.  This is HUGE for her because she's never 'accepted' any walking devices to get her moving.  She usually just shoves them away.  Every baby step keeps me thinking... maybe one day...

Mike had a nice Father's day.  We went to church in the morning and all the kids went to their new classes- promotion weekend was last weekend and there was an issue, but it was resolved.  Emma is going in her wheelchair to Brianna's class (3-4 yr olds) and the other kids are all in their age-appropriate rooms.  After church we had lunch and Mike mowed while I napped right along with the kids :)  Then we all got in the pool and even ate fruit pops in the pool.  We stayed out quite a while until dinner time.  I made potatoes, steamed broccoli, and a separate dinner for the kids while Mike grilled steak.  I made brownies on Sat for dessert.  It was a nice relaxing day.  His birthday is tomorrow so we'll have our parents for cake and then Friday night I get to take him out- just the two of us :)

 

Ok... enough rambling... for now.  Maybe more 'catch-up' updates later!

Monday, June 22

I win!

I love to win. Especially in cases with INSURANCE.

I've been getting bills from Vanderbilt hospital since October when we visited their ER with Emma for the bursting capillaries while we were in Nashville on vacation. Bills of over $1200 in total. Bills our insurance should have covered in full. And didn't.

A few weeks ago I finally gave in after it was sent to collections and I paid the 2 bills from the 2 departments and actually, it freaked me out a bit because I didn't realize there were two bills initially... one was for 1072 and one was for 172. So when I paid one and found a bill for the other I was afraid I'd been scammed. But then I did find out it was two separate bills and each was legit. Not a good way to wake up from a sleepless nap though.

Anyway, I also sent yet ANOTHER notice to insurance saying "pay it!!" after forking out $1200 in bills that *I* didn't really owe.

And guess what I got in the mail today?? Explanation of benefits (EOB's) for 2 charges from Vanderbilt hospital. Paid. In. Full.

Now... how many months do you suppose it will take for me to get back the $1200 that I paid out on those bills??

Saturday, June 20

Almost...

I was thinking today about Micah. We've been home from Ukraine for almost 16 months now. And we met Micah when he was about 16.5 months. Granted we didn't get custody of him for another month after that. He was 17.5 months when he left the orphanage for the last time!

In mid-August, right about the time that the kids all start school (13th), we will celebrate that Micah will have spent half his life in our care... and the margin just keeps getting bigger from there :)

Emma's milestones like this will be much broader since she was in an orphanage so much longer, but they are all ones to celebrate. It's a wonderful thing to know that we have KNOWN Micah for half of his life... and he's been in our care almost that long too!

Advocacy with kids

I talked in my last (super long) post about this week being our church camp for kids. Emma hung with me the 2 days we spent at the church, and the first day I was sitting in on the group Bible time as they presented first just a funny song with puppets then did an actual skit about the story the kids were studying.

I had Emma in her wheelchair sitting in the aisle right next to me since it was her first day with it and we were wanting to see how she does in it. A group of 3-4th grade boys were sitting behind me. First I thought, slip of the tongue. Then I thought, Ok, that's just not right- but then went right into a prayer at the front. But the third time I heard it... I acted.

The kids behind me were saying repeatedly "this is just retarded."

So finally I turned around and quietly said to the three of them "if you continue to use this language, we're going to have a problem." Or something along those lines. I left it at that. Granted, in this program it is very noticeable who the program directors on because we have a different color camp shirt- makes it easier to find us, which is the point. So these boys then knew they'd better straighten up... one of the camp directors called them out.

I knew that they had no idea WHY I didn't want them to say it... to them they may as well have been saying "stupid" or something like that. They didn't get it. But I also didn't have time to address it, and decided at the very least now someone has at least told them at some point in their life that their words are not ones that should be used.

Well... something happened that night that I didn't expect! I was waiting with Kristopher in a line for him to get on one of the jumpy toys at the family fun night and one of those boys got in line behind us. He then said "I remember you, we talked at Bible." Yes, yes we did... Then he said "and you told me not to talk like that because I said retarded." Yep, right again. "So what does retarded MEAN anyway?"

I told him in a sentence or two that all it means is slow, and that some people have a harder time learning things. But, that when he uses the word like he did, it is very mean to those kids that learn slower.

I didn't tell him about my kids- they were off with Mike. I didn't go any further than that... He said "oh, ok" and off they went on the bounce house. But sometimes, advocacy is nothing more than saying "that's not nice" and wow, what an opportunity to make an impression on a young kid- at HIS choosing...

Friday, June 19

CHAOS

As in, our church camp! This week was CHAOS at the church. Yes, we seriously call it that. I even have a shirt that says "CHAOS" on the front and "Dig It" on the back... the theme for the week.

It's not just a VBS with a fun name... it's literally CHAOS. In the time frame of 5 hours (9-2), we have 250 students on campus and over 100 teen and adult volunteers. Kids are grouped by grade (1-2, 3-4, and 5-7th grades) and during the course of a day they go to an opening program, a 'morning elective' (such as drama, dance, archery, sports fun, kitchen crafts, model rockets, and about 20 other choices, all different choices based on grade but each kid gets to pick where they go when they register), a whole-group Bible presentation, lunch (with hot-lunches available and food prepared for all the adults too), recreation or snow-cones (rotates daily who does which), music, an 'afternoon elective', and a closing program. Then all 250 kids are picked up by their parents in a car loop where each student is checked off exactly who they get in the car with and it's checked to make sure that they have been given permission to go with them.

So... literally... CHAOS.

This was the 5th year of CHAOS. We started off with 150 kids, 3 weeks of 3 days/week, and have quickly grown to 250 kids and having to close registration well before the start of camp. We've done two 5-day weeks for the 2-4th years of CHAOS but this year needed a 'break' and decided on one week, a little longer days than before (extra 30 min).

The first 3 years I was very hands-on with CHAOS. We met weekly for months in advance, planned, built, recruited leaders, and I led the 5-7th grade programming. One of those years was Brianna's open heart surgery and I helped from afar correcting computer issues from the Ronald McDonald House hours away. But last year... I was in over my head with my home commitments and didn't help with CHAOS. At. All. They started planning while I was in Ukraine and by the time I had a handle on the house we were only a few weeks out from camp. And Emma ended up having her tonsils taken out and I was again in a hospital hours away-- this time literally IN the hospital and completely out of the loop.

So this year... I tried! I really did... I went to the initial planning meetings and helped get some registration things together. We released the final packet in early April and from there I called and said "if you need me, call me." And I haven't gotten many calls :) During the time I had our little visitor with us I knew I had enough at home and with RR that this extra thing was the one I needed to set down.

This week I missed Monday because I was still in MN (which the timing of that trip was based on my sister's schedule, not intentionally missing CHAOS). Tuesday was 'recovery' day and I couldn't walk back out the door and leave my kids in the nursery for hours after not being home for 5 days. They wouldn't have had it! (nor would I :) ). I did consider going up to the church for an hour and saying 'hi', but... Tuesday was a crazy day including getting E's new wheelchair, etc. that I wrote about.

Wednesday I went to the church from 9-1:30, rushed home for PT for Emma at 2 (and then was reminded her time had changed to 1 but her PT came back realizing I hadn't gotten the notice of the change written down and she saw her anyway), then packed back up and was back out the door by 4:30. I picked up dinner on the way and dropped 4 hungry kids and Happy Meals off to Mike then went to help set up games for our Family Fun Night. I left the church after 9:30 that night. By the time "home" was put back together and I glanced through my RR accumulation from the day... then slowed down enough to fall asleep... it was 1:30 AM.

Thursday I wasn't sure about bringing the kids to CHAOS (except Kristopher- he did go all week and was able to participate in the electives and such not just be in the nursery. He LOVED it!). They have another program in the nursery on Tuesdays and Thursdays and I knew there'd be more kids in the classes. Emma had been staying with me anyway. But a call out to Poison Control before Mike had even left the house with Kristopher was enough to make me know I wasn't leaving my children that day and that we had things to do at home. Or, FOR home anyway, like grocery shopping. 2 1/2 hours and many $$ later... the day did get better but it only involved the chaos of our own home.

So today, Friday, we went up to the church at 9, Emma and I hung out and worked on things for tonight's program until 11:30 or so, then I picked up all 4 kiddos and went to my parents' house. I dropped Micah and Brianna off there to take a quick nap and headed to Orlando with Emma and Kristopher. I had a few things to pick up over there including exchanging some tank tops I'd bought in MN and were a bit big and I wanted to pick up some fabric so I could at least make SOMETHING for baby girl's room... I made a complete bedding set for K and B while I was expecting... but... well... we'll see! When I got back to town I picked up M and B and brought everyone home, made dinner, and I headed back to the church!

The evening program went great, the kids seemed to have a great week and me... well... I'm kindof glad we decided on just ONE week this year :)

Though, next year, maybe we can have a summer program where I'm not pregnant, or in the hospital. There have been 2 since I started working with the 5-6th grades in 2004... but both of those summers (and probably next summer too) I still had babies that were nursing.

Anyway... Not a lot of blogging this week because, well, it's been CHAOS!

Tuesday, June 16

It's like teaching a dog to read

Today hasn't been an unbearably rough day, or really even a bad day. It's just been a day where, well... here you go:

9am call from mobility store, can they deliver E's new wheelchair before 11? Sure...
Shower, start to bathe the kids, and...
10am call from friends, can they drop off some things they'd borrowed? Sure...
Pull Micah out of the tub and dress him, pull Brianna out and...
They're here :) So little miss naked wonder visited a minute in the nude. It would have been too nice for her to wait in the family room...
10:25 IM on the computer from a mom in Ukraine
Dress naked wonder before taking that one, and
10:30 Mobility guy is here!
Fit the wheelchair to Emma's size and such
11:30 whew, it's done, a few more necessary adjustments, but time for lunch
12:30 nap time
1:30 I should be leaving the house to get K from church camp... but 2 kids are sleeping, call mom for a 'bailout'
Fast forward a bit to 4:30... I called Mike, got up to start dinner... and Micah face-planted onto a coffee table.
Blood everywhere, tongues sure bleed a lot! Ice to stop the bleeding and he chokes and gags then spits up some blood... still hoping that was all and he didn't aspirate any!
5:15 Micah is settled, dinner's not happening, and I call Mike to pick up chicken grom Wal-Mart on his way home with the sound of Brianna crying in the background... have I mentioned she's not really happy I left and is stuck to me today?

Now it's bed time... I have Emma laying on my lap as I type this all with one hand... and 3 more kids ready to get their jammies on and hit the sack. Next on the agenda: grocery shop. That is, if Mike finishes the lawn before I lose the gumption to go!

So, what's like teaching a dog to read? Emma. Some days. Like... today. I realize I've been gone for 5 days and she's not so sure about that. BUT YIKES. She's scratching and popping joints all over the place. Her legs are a huge mess of scratches from the past few days. Her toe is in constant motion popping in and out of place. Tonight at dinner she was shoving 3 pieces of popcorn chicken into her mouth at a time. She'd be told to wait and put her hands under the table and start scratching. I'd move her hands above the table and say wait. She moved them below. And above, and below, and finally she sat there with her hands level with her shoulders and stared at her food. Her ONE bite she had left of popcorn chicken. For 5 minutes straight. Yes, I eventually just fed it to her.

Some days I think that with the amount of back and forth we do- usually when it's to this extent it's for her safety-- like to keep her from drawing blood from her legs... it's just so. very. hard. to. get. the. point. across. sometimes. I know she understands it, at least sometimes. Because she usually responds. But yes, my little mini-vacation has brought Emma back a few steps even though sh was in her home with her siblings, her dad, her grandparents... and she probably had very similar days to her regular days with me. But it sometimes feels like I'm trying to teach a dog to read. Especially after a period of regression.

(Yes, I know she'll be fine in a day or two and no, I don't feel guilty for leaving. I needed it and she'll be ok. And I'll deal with it better because I did have a bit of R&R.)

Whew, ok, a bit about the weekend :)

Today's off to a good start, so here's a quick recap of the weekend with my sister :)

I flew up there on Thursday and when Elizabeth picked me up we went to find food and ate at a cute French restaurant that had a patio. The weather was great up there- about 70 degrees with very little humidity. Then we drove around a little and went back to the apartment. We hung out there the rest of the evening and caught a late TV movie.

Friday we went to the Mall of America and found some great sales including Old Navy with 1/2 off everything Men's :) Good timing with Father's Day, yes, but also Mike's birthday the same week! I also got cute American Flag shirts for the 4 kids again so I can do another photo! The treasure of being an American is still there, very much. I will always be proud to dress my two little ones that got their citizenship a year ago in clothes that say "All American", ones with American Flags, and similar things. What a neat way that God brought them not just to our home, but to a country that recognizes their worth (well, still a LONG way to go there, but still so VERY different from where they came from).

Friday evening we met up with friends of mine- Both families are from Reece's Rainbow and each brought their kids too! I met a sweet little Ukrainian princess for the first time along with her big brother and sister, and 4 other sweethearts adopted from other countries abroad (not through RR) and that family is considering a RR child in the near future. We had a nice time visiting and getting to spend time with these families!

Saturday we headed over to the Farmer's Market and bought some fruit and snacks then went outlet shopping. We didn't buy much but enjoyed the time together walking around and talking. I did get my girls cute sundresses at Baby Gap and found some $2 sleeveless t-shirts for Kristopher at Gymboree though :). We also went to a maternity consignment store that Elizabeth's boss had recomended. I found a nice shirt there and also... a swimsuit! YAY! LOL I've been swimming in a tank top and board shorts most of the time so it'll be nice to have an actual suit that 'fits'. Best of all, usually maternity suits are upward of $40 and this one was... $9 :) Love it when that happens :)

In the evening we went to see the movie My Life In Ruins. It was cute. Not a spectacular "oh, you've GOT to see it" but it was cute. We'd read reviews befoe going and we got what we expected- entertainment with a cute storyline.

Sunday we decided to drive over to Como Park Zoo and on our way out heard from another family up there that they would join us at the Zoo, so we met up with L and her daughter at the zoo for a few hours. Her daughter is just adorable, such a sweet girl and so articulate. She's 13 years old and it was a pleasure to meet them both!

From there we met back up with friends from the dinner on Friday night. They have 2 daughters with Ds and an older son. S and I talk regularly online so it was great to meet her children and see the house she's been working so much on! Her gardens are beautiful! I wish I could do half as much to my yard! :) After a few hours of hanging out we all went to the local Ds picnic. (Thanks L for the phone call reminder!)

At the picnic... wouldn't you know... there's another mom that I've known online for probably 2 years and she's there with her husband and 5 kiddos. She's also expecting a baby just a few days away from jellybean. We hadn't met before but it was great to meet her and spend a little time with her and a few of the kids... most were off and busy :). After talking with A for a few minutes I noticed another familiar face. K and her family were there too! Two years ago when I went up to MN we met up with her family but they were camping this weekend and didn't think it would work out to meet up, but they'd come home early and decided to go to the picnic :) I can't believe how big her boys are now!

This weekend was great, lots of fun visits, nothing major in the way of plans, just lots of walking and hanging out! It's always nice to get a little break here and there and I thoroughly enjoyed my time away! Thanks, Elizabeth, for letting me come up and for taking off work to hang out this weekend!

A few pics from our zoo trip are on Elizabeth's blog, and here's a quick shot of the two of us... we, um, forgot to get a pic together until we were at the airport and I was leaving!

Monday, June 15

I'm home

Life's busy. Got home today to a bit of chaos... nothing unusual. Tomorrow's a new day and one I'm going to have to wake up EARLY for (considering my sleeping in the past few days and being in a different time zone) so I'm going to bed now :)

Friday, June 12

Enjoying the R&R

I slept until 8:30 this morning... it was lovely.

And either my sister's couch is better for my hips than my bed at home, or not hoisting and bending all day has given my hips a nice break... because I slept so well without tossing and turning last night and without any of the hip pain I'd been having.

We walked the Mall of America today, shopped a little, and met up with friends at Applebees for dinner. It was nice!

Tomorrow is some consignment shopping (or looking at least) and then on Sunday we'll be visiting with friends again and maybe catching a movie. And sleeping :)

I miss Mike and the kids, but I'm enjoying the break and I know I'll be going home refreshed!!

Wednesday, June 10

Making up for the day or productivity

Today we have done NOTHING. The girls didn't get out of bed until 9, we just finished BREAKFAST at 10:30 and that's because at 10 I finally said- EVERYONE IS EATING NOW! :)

I've done some RR work this morning and the kids have been playing and enjoying the 'free' morning. And I finally caught up on that adoption updates post! ;)

Time for baths and getting dressed!!

Thankfully today's only 'appointment' is here at the house at 2pm (PT for Emma) so a lazy day is certainly ok today :)

It's about time! Adoption updates!

So many updates that unfortunately will be skipped-- that month with an extra little one and the days since, well... time got away from me. We're glad to have the OLMSTEAD and ADAMSON families home with their children! Also, the LITCHFIELD family is home with their new daughter and the LINDSAY family is home with their daughter as well! :)

We have so many families in Ukraine or about to travel! Now you can see why it's been so busy around here lately!! :) SO MANY families and sets of paperwork that have been done in the past 2 months!

One family is in Kiev ready to come home very soon with their new son!

The family that has been 'stuck' in the system because their son is in an institution is there NOW for their court hearings! UPDATE: They had a successful court decision and are bringing their son home soon!!

Another family, Dad left this morning to return to Ukraine to bring their son home, court is completed and it's just the final paperwork that needs to be finished.

There are FIVE families with SDA appointments in the next few days.. AND... 4 of the families will be within close proximity to get their children (location-wise) so they should all have companions while overseas!

TEN MORE families have their paperwork in Ukraine (or enroute) waiting for it to be submitted or waiting for a travel date. Some of these families have hit 'snags' with needing additional or different documentation or because their child's special needs are not recognized as such by the Ukraine government. Please pray specifically that these dossiers will be pushed through and the families are invited to travel soon!

Our family in Haiti- missionaries now- is doing well and I'm sure appreciate your continued prayers as they live this 'new life' while they await the completion of their son's adoption. They have found that a piece of their adoption which should have been done at the beginning to expedite this point in the process was not done, so their process continues and we pray they are able to minister even moe while there awaiting their son's finalization. What a blessing that they are able to be his parents while they wait for it to be 'official' since he is living with them and has been since they arrived!

One family is in Serbia adopting their little girl right now!

There are several families set to travel in July as well to several different countries.

Please keep all these families covered in prayer!!

Tuesday, June 9

THE WINNER IS...

#11... Sheila!

Congrats! I'll arrange to get you the Bountiful Love: One Family necklace soon!

Thank you to all the contributors, together we raised $100 for Brady's fund!

They're Home!

See, this is how far behind I am on adoption news.... these kids are all HOME!

Dana and Eve
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Monday, June 8

To do tomorrow:

  • Bath for Brianna
  • Grocery shopping (so Mike and the kids can last the weekend)
  • Micah's ENT appointment (follow up)
  • Afternoon visit- friend coming over
  • Draw a winner for Brady's Give-away!

Things still waiting:
  • adoption updates- SO many to do!
  • think about packing for Thursday

Why I got very little done today (not that I need an excuse...):
  • Door frame meet toe.
  • Ice.
  • Bruising.
  • Pain.
Hopefully tomorrow my toe will feel better!

The bed...

I've written a few posts about the bed that my dad is making for Emma, but here's the latest update.

My parents have a bunk bed system now set up in their garage that my dad is working on 'renovating'. Essentially, it is a pre-made regular bunk bed which consists of two 'stackable' twin beds. The head and foot boards already had 'rails' that mostly enclosed that space so that Emma won't be able to climb out the ends. What my dad is doing to modify it is creating a 'lift' under the upper bunk so the opening of the bottom bunk is high enough for an adult to sit on the lower bunk. He's also altering that 'lifted' portion of the head and foot boards to match the original style but provide that additional safety for a certain little girl.

Then, he's making a 'side rail' for the side of the bed that will be up against the wall. This is just to keep Emma from falling between the mattress and the wall. It will be the entire length of the bed and ai think it will be 'removable' so that we can change sheets and such without it being in the way. Not all that sure on that part yet. And here's the part I'm still a bit iffy on understanding, they're making a doohicky for the open side of the bunk. It has something with canvas pockets which hold lengths of wood- 1x3's or something similar- inside the pockets that go the length of the bed. Then there's a mesh that holds each of these boards together, and slots on the side of the bed for them to 'lock in' to. The idea is that the boards hold up the mesh and give it stability, and as many as are needed can be put up (or taken down) to make the side-height what we need at that time. I think.

We did talk with the Department of Children and Families to make sure it was an acceptable solution to our needs... to which they wouldn't give us a very straight answer. We talked to someone that is a previous employee, and she said that if they have a problem with it, they would work with us to fix the problem as long as there were no other issues in the home. We also intend to get a note from our pediatrician that says that Emma requires a special needs bed which will keep her from climbing or crawling out of it for her safety.

I haven't actually seen the bed yet at all... but I will at least post some pictures when it's done! The cost of this bed should be under $800 I think instead of the $6-9,000 that we found special needs beds for. It's starting out on a $500 bunk bed frame that is VERY STURDY. The additional supplies I think will be less than $300 (and lots of man- and woman power, thanks Mom and Dad!).

Brady needs a family- Give Away!

Brady is an adorable little guy with blonde hair and blue eyes... he's waiting in an orphanage in Easter Europe for a his forever family to find him and make him theirs. He is 4 1/2 years old and will be turning five in September, which makes him just 2 months different in age than the little boy that was just staying with us.image

This little boy was chosen to honor that little boy that has touched our lives. Click Here to read about him.

I have a beautiful necklace that was donated to help raise funds for Brady! It says "Bountiful Love, One Family" on it and has a tree with branches in the center. The necklace is Sterling Silver and has a tag on the back of the box that says $50. I hope we can raise that much and more for Brady!

He looks like he'd fit in just fine with my crew, blonde, blue eyes, and a slim build (though Micah's broken that mold ;) ). Unfortunately we're not in a position to bring him home and he needs a family NOW. Will you put a foot forward to help find him a forever family and donate to his chip-in? One person that donates will be gifted this beautiful necklace.

Each $5 donation will be a 'chance' at it.

HURRY, this is going to be a quick fundraiser, just 2 weeks and I'll announce the total as well as the person that will receive the necklace. It will be a random drawing :) If you'd like an extra 'chance' to win this necklace (after you've made a donation), please do any or all of the following and leave me a comment here letting me know that you've done so:

  1. Post a link from your blog, facebook, myspace, or twitter (one 'chance' per website)
  2. Email 5 friends and include me as the 6th (mkp1982@hotmail.com) with a link to this give-away

Winner will be announced on Monday, June 8th!003

The Scoop on Medicaid

Ok, I've had a few q's on this one... so here goes my attempt at an explanation...

First off, EVERY STATE IS DIFFERENT. Some states, like Georgia for instance, allow ANY child that has a definitive diagnosis to be covered, and it does not take into account the parents' income.

Florida, however, DOES count the parents' income and our assets. So since we live in Florida... the rest of this is just about what I learned this weekend about FLORIDA.

Now, keep in mind, that this is from talking to a "high up rep" at a conference, not from going through the application process and actually having it work.

What we were told is that there are three different types of Medicaid eligibility. One is when you are on SSI (based on income and assets as well). SSI is 'harder' to get, so those on SSI automatically get medicaid. Then there's Medicaid for families and children which is NOT based on disability. Then there's medicaid for the aged and disabled. THAT is what we need to make sure the kids are 'categorized' as when we apply. It has a different set of criteria than the one for families and children. In fact, we were told that if we don't write anything in the 'comments' section of the paperwork, our paperwork will automatically go onto that 'track', and the qualifications for that will be used to determine our kids' eligibility.

Instead, he said we need to write in the comments section "Emma, Micah, and Brianna need to be determined as disabled and processed as disabled individuals." Now, this goes against a thread of "why label your child", but reality is that as an adult, our kids WILL need disability services to help them out, and they HAVE to have the determination of disability done as a child for Social Security and Medicaid if they are going to get any help as adults. So whether we do it at 2,3, and 6, or each of them at 16, the result is the same... but they may be able to receive a little help NOW as well.

So essentially what he said is that with our family of 7 with three people that are disabled, there is a process to determine what income is allowed, and this takes our total income, subtracts a little here and a little there because it's earned income and because we as parents are allowed to have a TINY bit. Then the rest is divided among the children that are disabled and if that final $ determination for each child is within the income allowances, then we would qualify based on income. (We have always qualified based on income for our family of 4 then of 6, so this isn't an issue for us, but it may be for other families.)

Then there's the issue of assets. This has always been where we were denied. They don't count the house and one car. This is good, but we have 2 cars. And both are in our names, one is paid off (we try to keep very little if any debt- our big van is our only debt apart from the house now). So one car is not counted, but the other one is counted toward our assets. The second car and any bank accounts that we hold are all put into a big pot. We were told our assets could be no more than $3k. Period. Total.

And that is where we said "How in the world do you live with a household of 7, multiple doctor's appointments each month, one person working full time, and yes, owning a home, with less than $3k between your second vehicle and accounts? If the second car is worth less than $3k, then I'd hope we have some money we put away for repairs, because it likely will need them regularly! And what about home repairs? We know we'll need a new AC system in the next few years and we are slowly putting away to have that... eventually... But we're hot allowed to have any accrual accounts? What about our home insurance and taxes that we pay yearly. No, they don't come out of escrow because of the type of mortgage we have. So we put that money aside monthly in order to have it when it is due. That's a pretty big chunk of $, but it's not "ours," it's as if we're paying it to a mortgage company it just only leaves our hands annually. Our auto insurance is done yearly on one vehicle as well. Do we need to set up the (more expensive) monthly plan in order for that money to not count against us in the time we are holding it until it's due? I believe these things we're doing are helping us financially, but in the great scheme of things, it sounds as though having these types of billing (saving us money and making our monthly payments work out ok) might actually be working against us. What about all those things our kids need that aren't covered by insurance and we still need to purchase? Like the glasses that Micah needs and the new lenses for Emma? And that special needs bed my dad is building for us?

Essentially, though, it comes back to this, told to us by the nice man at the conference... The asset limit is for one couple with one disabled child. For each additional child there is another amount of assets allowed. And the $3k is for family based medicaid, not Medicaid for the aged and disabled. See where I'm going? Our family is allowed a certain amount of assets (we are told $6k) and then each additional disabled child is allowed another amount in assets ($5k). So according to this man whom we hope is very knowledgeable... our family could have $16k in liquid assets (including the worth of our car and our bank accounts) and be eligible for Medicaid for the three children that need it.

All of this to say... if you are denied Medicaid coverage, but you do feel your children and family would greatly benefit from it, make sure that your application was processed as being for a disabled person, not for a child/family. Make sure that you have all your ducks in a row when you apply- copies of everyone's birth certificates, paycheck stubs, social security numbers, adoption papers (if applicable), bank statements, mortgage paperwork, monthly bills, and anything else I might have left off which would be helpful or better yet, necessary, in determining your eligibility.

I was also told by a helpful person (not the Medicaid man) to make sure our bills are paid up when we apply. For instance, we have $1k in medical expenses that we haven't received the bills for yet, so we need to make sure those are paid so that the money we have for those doesn't count toward our assets-- it's not ours, it's owed. Might also be helpful to do it right after taxes and other things that are generally paid by 'escrow' aredone. Yes, we need to talk with them and make sure that we are allowed to accrue money and find out how that works (or possibly set up an accrual account separate from our regular accounts as an official escrow type thing so that the money is marked as 'designated' instead of just being within our regular bank accounts).

I hope this might be useful to someone out there!

Sunday, June 7

Is it almost Monday already?

This weekend has flown by!

Saturday Mike's parents spent the day with the boys and Mike and I took the girls with us to the Family Cafe in Orlando. This is an annual "special needs conference" put on by the state of Florida. They even provide help with childcare/hotel stays for those that live further away (I think). We are less than an hour away so we just went over for the day. It's neat to see all the families there interacting and getting information! We went last year with all 4 kids but this year decided to try to go to some of the actual conferences (rather than just the expo hall which we went to last year-- looking for ideas on a wheelchair and van).

Mike attended one about abuse when we first got there (boring but he said it was 'ok' :) ). Then we had lunch and walked through the Expo hall a while. And later on Mike went to a Down syndrome "round table" and I went to a medicaid eligibility conference. Both were good. I talked with the medicaid guy afterward and it sounds like I just need to get a hold of the right person in there because there's no reason our kids should have been denied-- and better yet, they would be able to get coverage on a few things that we're having a hard time doing. Basically, we need to give it one more shot. We'll see if I find the energy to do it again.

Met some great people, some fun stories to share (maybe one day!) and then went by Babies R Us and Carter's on our way home. We decided on carseats for the kids (after being able to really see and feel them!) and I bought some Carter's things on super-clearance (70% off!) that are the very FIRST things I've bought for the new baby :) I think I did pretty darn good waiting 6 months!

Today was a 'lazy day', church, lunch, naps, playtime, dinner, playtime, bed!

Tomorrow's therapy day... now to get the kids to actually SLEEP instead of just laying in bed talking :)

Brady's Give-away!

Hi all, just a reminder about Brady's Give-away! Is anyone else having trouble viewing the Chip-in? I know it reached the 'goal' last week, but I didn't know it might be showing as closed?

If anyone wants to donate toward Brady's fund email me at mkp1982 at hotmail dot com and let me know so I put your name in the give-away and I will tell you how you can make your donations to RR outside of the chip in. Thanks, K.N., for letting me know this may be an issue!

Saturday, June 6

This is it

This is why we bring these kids home. This is why we fundraise for their adoptions (hint hint, Brady's fundraiser ends Monday). This is why we try to advocate. This is it...

This is the institution "our Misha" was at from his transfer until he was adopted by the Malone family just a few months ago. I have to wonder if the girls' orphanage they mention at the bottom of the article is the one that "our Sasha" was in... the one we pleaded to bring her home from...

Read. Understand. PRAY.

http://www.worldnextdoor.org/2009/04/romaniv-boys-orphanage/

Thursday, June 4

Patience...

"You sure have your hands full"
"You are a saint"
"It takes a very special person..."
"I'm glad there's people like you, I couldn't do it"
"You must have a great deal of patience"

If you have a child with special needs- especially if you have more than one- you probably get these statements from well-meaning strangers pretty much every time you turn around. You go to the grocery store, park, doctor's office, restaurant, mall, or school and you hear them over and over again.

"You sure have your hands full" A smile... "Yes, but in a good way"
"You are a saint" A smile... "No, but I serve a wonderful God."
"It takes a very special person..." A smile... "God can use all kinds!"
"I'm glad there's people like you, I couldn't do it" A smile... "You'll never know unless you try!"
"You must have a great deal of patience" A smile... no reply to that one. PATIENCE? REALLY?

As I drove an hour this afternoon to get to the ophthalmologist's office I was replaying the morning in my mind. Emma and Micah were in the car with me and my mom had come to watch Brianna and Kristopher so that they didn't have to join the parade at the doctor's office. I was considering the fact that Emma busted her lip this morning, just as I was getting the kids' lunches on the table.

She had one of Brianna's "loveys" in her mouth-- AGAIN-- and was in the playroom when Kristopher made me aware of the fact. The other 3 kids made their way to the table knowing that food was coming but Emma usually has to be sought after unless she's in the room and sees that there's food. I went out to her, told her to take it out of her mouth, told her firmly that she's not allowed to chew on those (or anything else for that matter...) and walked back out of the room to put the other kids in their seats, letting her 'discipline' sink in a moment before being 'rewarded' by being picked up and by food- her favorite thing in the world.

As I walked into the kitchen she started to cry. Her pitiful "life's got me wrong" cry that says she knows she's in trouble and doesn't like it. I ignored her for a minute as I finished what I was doing then walked the 4 steps to where I could see her. I looked at her and said "that's enough, you're ok" and she stopped crying, smiled her little crooked smile, and I went out to get her, tear streaked cheeks and all. Then I noticed it. The busted lip.

My patience was through-- I'd used it up in telling her 20x to take the loveys out of her mouth. I'd used it up further listening to her scream for being disciplined. And then I realized how much of my days I spend asking for forgiveness for being impatient... for not empathizing... for not doing what should have been done... And I hadn't responded appropriately to her- noting that she had been hurt and was wanting to be consoled.

I glanced back at Emma, sitting in the middle seat of the van within my view, happily playing with her shoes and looking out the window as we drove. And I once again recognized that I don't have that "great deal of patience" that everyone says that I must have.

Fast forward an hour and a half and I was getting back in the car after a LONG visit at the doctor's office. Both kids were seeing the eye doctor and after his initial look at their eyes, the doctor put numbing drops and then dilating drops in their eyes. Emma, who generally screams when touched my anyone she sees as being remotely doctor-like, did pretty well. She wasn't happy, but she didn't break down. Micah, however, screamed. And screamed. And screamed. The doctor said to me at the time of the drops that "kids with Downs sometimes have more disorientation from these drops so be aware that they may be uncomfortable from that."

And as I got back in the car and pulled out of my parking spot with 2 new scripts for stronger lenses and a still-screaming 2 year old, the later words of the opthalmologist rang through my head... "remember I told you kids with Down syndrome tend to react more to these drops? Well, a rare side effect is a temporary psychosis, and I believe that is more likely what your son is experiencing."

"He'll fall asleep in the car, he'll fall asleep, any minute, he's going to go to sleep." But he didn't. Not in 45 minutes of the hour drive anyway. Not for the 10 minutes we stopped to drop something off (side note: Thank you Teresa for being willing to come outside in the rain, and thanks for the sleepers and t-shirt too! We are blessed to have great friends and I hope you enjoy the book!). He fell asleep 15 minutes from home and even still he whined and cried in and out of his sleepy daze for that 15 minutes.

When I say Micah cried or screamed, I don't mean a calm nice sweet 2 yr old cry. (Is there one of those??) I mean an "I want to climb out of my skin, I'm so irritable and cannot figure out what I need or want and I'm going to scream until I have no voice left" kind of scream. It was awful. For him. For me.

And as I drove I thought- Wow, even when Emma broke down upon reentering the exam room, she was easily consoled without having to be taken from her wheelchair after just 5 or 10 minutes (a rare thing- she's usually full-out tantrum and takes 20 minutes to calm after a doctor has touched her). And I pictured someone looking in to that room... though the door was closed so they couldn't see in... and seeing Micah on my hip thrashing and screaming and just completely out of sorts, and Emma next to me in her wheelchair crying her eyes out at the cruelty of the world for making her go back into this room. (Which, by the way, has concrete floors and a high concrete ceiling-- great for aesthetics, as well as sound amplification.) And I pictured this onlooker thinking that this is what it's like to have children with special needs. You sure have your hands full. You are a saint. It takes a very special person... I'm glad there's people like you, I couldn't do it. You must have a great deal of patience.

And I realized in a new way today that patience is not something that you have. It's something that you ask for. Over, and over, and over, and over again. Just like forgiveness... for having lost that patience.

We're home now, Micah went to bed and was ok when we woke him up a little over 2 hours later and he ate his dinner and is now playing. So much for bed time tonight... I'm just glad he's back to himself.

It's 8:50am

And the dishwasher is running (thanks Mike!), the washing machine is going, the dryer is going, the Mommy has showered and dressed AND is eating breakfast, the kids have all had clean duds and had breakfast, and our shower has been scrubbed.

So does that mean that if I do nothing the rest of the day I can still call it accomplished???? :)

Wednesday, June 3

More random stuff

It's so nice to have this "summer" break and not have a specific timeline for every day all lined up with school and therapies and doctor's visits and such. On the other hand, it makes blogging more difficult because it's just a lot more random :) But ya know... I kindof like it that way!!

Thanks for all the suggestions for baby seats! I'll be checking out the safety info online, but right now I'm leaning toward getting a Graco 32 for the baby (holds 97% of one year olds and is a carrier) and closer to March we're looking at the Graco Nautilus to replace our two seats that will expire. The Nautilus does NOT require that the vehicle seat back be level with the child's head. The APEX DOES. Thanks Lyndi for looking that up for me!! I look for safety and ease of use in carseats, so 'hidden' things like that which aren't advertised but are big caution statements in their manuals are always good to look for :) Also, thank you Kristin for letting me know that the Graco 32 does in fact have the guides to be used without the base! I think we'll plan on a trip over to Babies R Us in the near future to see one that we can 'play with'. According to the specs, MICAH would still fit in it! Though I'm pretty sure I won't be toting it around as a carrier after the child reaches about 20lbs... Micah's 27 now and definitely more than I'd want to carry. Love that the seat is still useable though so we don't have to buy a separate convertable carseat for just a few more months of being backward facing.

Today we had PT here at the house for Emma and she did pretty good! I also sat down and (finally) made an appointment for Emma to see a good orthopedic doctor. I've been meaning to for a few months, well, pretty much ever since our visit with the not-so-great orthopedic doctor a while back, and finally did so today. The reception person also talked briefly to our PT and will be calling me back next week to arrange a set of x-rays to be done before our appointment in late July.

Aside from just being non-ambulatory, Emma has severe pronation in her feet, a general laxicity in her ligaments all around, knee hyperextension, unknown hip stability (likely better described as instability...), a twist in the lower leg bone between the knee and ankle, unusual ankle alignment and flexation, and apparently a leg-length difference of about 1/2" in her femur. I look forward to having her looked at with someone that not only is highly recommended, but that has a special day of the week set aside for children with special needs so that he has adequate time to spend with each one :). More later... probably after our visit in late July!

We also decided today not to attempt a family reunion that we have been considering. It's in mid-July and happens every year in Pennsylvania. We have always had other big things preventing us from going (well, ever since we found out that they were doing this...) but this is the first year it was really an option for us. Unfortunately, we still won't be going. We'll start planning now for next year, hopefully, though and then we'll have more time to financially prepare for the trip as well as not having Mike's school that he would miss (and that we are paying for still). Also, the baby will be here and 10 months old at that time which is probably a better time to travel. We'll have to find something else closer to home to do as a family this summer if we want a little get-away!

This morning we had some good friends over for a playdate :) Kerry's 5 little ones and my 4 had a good time playing together! I got to snuggle with her youngest, 4 months, and Brianna was in HEAVEN getting to sit and pat his back and tickle his tummy. Such a fun age (both of them LOL)! Emma is very curious about babies but has very few 'gentle' touches in her system. She gets about 2 or 3 gentle pats in on a baby's tummy or head and then it's FULL FORCE after that. I think this has to do with her own sensory needs and the inability for her to process soft touches very well. She's needed very firm touch and pressure since we brought her home and she tends to project that onto others too. She's also pretty sure that no one is supposed to wear socks and wanted to take his off :) . She did really good, though. I always enjoy visiting with this family and it's so nice that the oldest 8 kids will all play nicely together! Each of our kids 'line up' within a year of each other- hers each being a bit older than mine, except Micah and her 4th child are just a few days apart. The babies will be about 7 months apart too!

Tonight we have speech here at the house and maybe a dip in the pool, and tomorrow Emma and Micah go back for eye doctor appointments. Their prescriptions are 1 year old but they had checkups 6 months ago as well. Hopefully their scripts stay the same!!

Tuesday, June 2

The Home Duties

Now that school is out and we have just 2 days with any commitments during the week that are reoccurring, I've been attempting to get the hous into a bit better order (yet again, yes, it's a constant thing I'm sure!) and as with any 'down time'... my thoughts go back to... COOKING.

It's not that I don't like to cook, or that I don't do ok at it when I do cook... it's not that I don't have the TIME to cook, because I could often take the time to do it. It's mostly the fact that although there are 6 of us in the house, only 3 of us will eat a majority of the things I would cook. Emma's our one cild that eats any and everything we put in her mouth (including things she puts in her mouth like 3 day old cheerios she finds hiding in the crack of the highchair). Kristopher will eat a majority of things, but sometimes getting him to do so makes dinner time a battle field. Brianna is a SUPER PICKY eater and though we make her try things, she doesn't eat a whole lot to start with so after forcing in a few bites, we generally go for a 'staple' we know she'll eat. And Micah's still on bottles and purees...

I just sat down with a stack of cookbooks that have been taking up space in my cupboard for the past 2 years and aren't pulled out except when I'm making something I know is tried and true and just need to remember that one other ingredient or ratio. Including 4 magazines of Kraft Food & Family magazine. I went through those and 4 cookbooks... I marked pages in the magazines... and I realized that the things that I picked out as potentially good for at least a majority of the family are all sandwiches, super-simple veggies, and "appetizer like" sides. Starches, fresh deli-meats, fresh fruits, simple veggies, and some dairy and cheeses. I looked at chicken dish after chicken dish after chicken dish... beef, tuna, pork, and other meals at length... ingenious pasta casseroles after another... and it still came back to the basics.

So maybe I should just get a ton of deli meat and cheese, the fresh fruits and veggies, some bread, rice, and potatoes, and see just how many meals we can make that differ slightly from one another?? I'm pretty sure the kids and I would be just FINE with that. Mike, on the other hand, might not be quite so happy... But really, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, pizza, mac'n cheese, crackers, PBJ, corn dogs, and french fries really do get old. Maybe deli meat will too after a time.

Any summertime favorites? Easy dishes your (picky) kids love that are easy on the time-table and on the budget?

Pool days...

Micah's getting to be such a TODDLER now!  He's up and walking, FULL of smiles, and though his upper respiratory system has taken a beating here lately, he's just so full of joy that you can't help but smile around him :)

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And did I mention mischievous??

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He looks so big up and walking around!

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For some reason Brianna hasn't been so thrilled about the pool lately.  So after a time I went and got this lawn chair out and set it up for her away from the activity.  She was really happy with that and still joined in, but just wasn't her usual happy self. Ah... I'm sure we all have days like that!

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She did hang out in the little pool a bit- careful to only sit on the SIDE and not get into the water too often.

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And even if she didn't want to sit in it in the pool, she was proud of herself for getting the swim ring and perched herself up in her dry floaty!

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On the inside of the baby fence, glad she's not being put in the water though

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And a pool day isn't complete without some icees... Brianna actually ate hers on her own!  I was surprised (but then realized 1/2 of it was on the pool deck next to her chair LOL)

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Kristopher has become so independent in the pool!  He's had some major anxiety around water for good reason- he got into the pool when he was about 2 1/2 while Mike and I were both standing right there.  He walked down the steps into the jacuzzi and when we turned around he was floating in the middle kicking his feet to turn around to get back to the steps.  About caused Mike and I both heart attacks but after a good cough or two he was just fine.  As you can imagine, though, he's been a bit more trepid around the water than most 5 yr olds.

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Kristopher loves to play on the steps and even in the deeper area of the jacuzzi with his toys.  He'll get in the big pool as well but prefers his feet on solid ground.

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Michael was melting Micah's icee in the pool and Kristopher thought that sounded like a good idea too...

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Emma just LOVES the water.  Before I had the camera out she and I spent about 30 minutes doing therapy in the pool.  She was floating on her back with little assistance, but then would get bored and thrust her head backward underwater.  She doesn't mind going under, so rather than this be a deterrent to doing that again, she then did it over, and over, and over... Not quite what I had planned.  I did start letting her hold on to me rather than me hold her and she would kick around then let go.  She'd go under for just a second then grab back on and pull herself up again.  I think the pool is going to be great strengthening for her this summer!

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Doesn't she look prissy here?  She really is a dainty little thing at times but most of the time she's more like a bull in the china shop :)  And just to show off her moves, she loves to rest on her crossed legs for a minute or two when she's tired of sitting up!

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She didn't love the icees... In fact, the next day we had ice cream and she didn't care for that either.  Now that she's doing good with refrigerated coolness we'll have to slowly work up from there.  Plus, she needs a trip to the dentist to make sure her teeth aren't part of the sensitivity issues (I think they are!)

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