Thursday, December 31

Bringing in 2010

In 2000 I turned 18, graduated from high school, moved out, and got engaged.

In 2001 we bought our first home and got married.

In 2002 I started working in children's ministry.

In 2003 I graduated with my bachelor's degree in elementary education with a minor in psychology from UCF. I also started a 5-6th grade ministry at our church.

In 2004 I became a mom for the first time when Kristopher was born, I held my first (and only LOL) formal teaching position, Mike graduated with his bachelor's degree in HR managrement from UCF, and we sold our home and bought another.

In 2005 I was pregnant with our second child.

In 2006 (January) Our first daughter was born, she was diagnosed with Down syndrome in March and had open heart surgery in June.

In 2007 we moved yet again, Mike started his master's degree, and we committed to adopt a (yes, ONE) child with Down syndrome from Ukraine.

In 2008 we traveled for our child which became children, I spent 7 weeks in Ukraine- Mike 4 of those with me, and Emma had throat surgery, Micah was hospitalized, did Emma's heart surgery, and finally sold our house (from the last move).

In 2009 Mike finished his graduate work and Lynae our 5th (and 3rd bio) child was born.

A decade in the making...

And now... Mike's finished with school. No adoptions in process. No babies in the works. We're settled in a house we love. No big job changes that we can really SEE. No big things in the works. Nothing. Nowhere.

So we're waiting with open arms and wondering what season God might have for us next. He doesn't usually have us wait very long before He sends us on the next thing. We're ready. We've already said Yes. Now we are just waiting for what that means.

I just realized

I don't even have a TV that gets ANY channels at the moment... any Internet feeds of the ball dropping?? Hmm... will go hunting sometime after the kids are down. Gonna watch the ball drop.

Wednesday, December 30

Q&A from the last few days

Oh where's the video of that ???? Sounds very cute!!
No video this time (of Brianna 'disciplining' Micah while he laughed) but thanks for the idea :) LOL

oh my gosh - Brianna is 4 already! wow she is getting so big :)
I have to ask, are the kids riding in the dark?? Is that so they don't get sunburned :) :)
Actually... Brianna will be 4 on January 3rd, but Mike will be in Kenya so we celebrated early :) And it was dusk, maybe 5:15? We went outside while dinner was cooking.

What day was her birthday? Ragan (my oldest) birthday was on the 29th. Looks like a fun day for her. Can you believe how fast they are growing? Kind of sad. B's hair is so long, you did a great job fixing it.
Brianna's birthday is January third, and yes, they grow FAST! I must admit, my sister is the 'braider' and french braided both Brianna's and Emma's hair several times while she was visiting :)

Oh that is so NOT fair. Can I move there too, please??? I am sooooo over the cold weather now. Done with it...but trying to have a good attitude :)
Would LOVE to have you move here Adeye! And anyone else that wants to come... There are even two homes for sale in my neighborhood. What fun it would be to have some neighbors that share our hearts. I love some of my neighbors right now (ok, love ALL your neighbors, but you know what I mean LOL) and many of them I have known since I was 7 and my parents built this house, but what a joy to have another adoptive family w/ kids with Ds in the neighborhood would be!


Fresh from the tree

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Delicious.

I made a gallon and a half of orange juice and another half gallon of  ‘citrus’ juice today (mixed together orange, tangerine, and grapefruit juices).  All fresh from the trees in the yard.  Another perk of December in Florida :)

Tuesday, December 29

Pictures

Nope, not Christmas :)

Outside playing on bikes…

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And a few from a big girl’s FOURTH birthday party!  We had a very informal celebration.  Micah and Emma wandered in and out from the porch to the living room and somehow escaped all the photos!  But they were here, and Emma enjoyed some cake too :O)

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But I did get these two shots of Micah and Emma today.  Micah saw his bottle sitting on the table when I went back in for breakfast and took it.  He tried to drink it standing, then went somewhere to relax a bit and drink! LOL  He’s a smart fella!  And Emma… well, she’s in time out.  And the papers she’s holding are pieces of ones that she shredded.  We’re having to “undo Christmas” in her now.  She is shredding EVERYTHING she finds.  It’s not SO bad most of the time, but we’ve lost a few books to this and she just doesn’t stop!  So she saw me and immediately took her hands off the papers.  Even tho I just wanted a picture :)  She’s going to learn not to shred!  she REALLY IS!!

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Monday, December 28

No No NO!

I'm listening to Brianna tell Micah no No NO! over and over again... She has one hand on him almost pinning him down (tho he's much stronger than he is) and is right up in his face saying NO!

And he's laughing.

Hysterically.

Man those two are a lot of fun! :)

What a fun "after Christmas" day!

Yesterday was such a nice, fun, relaxing day!

We started with an earlier morning than anyone was really wanting, but after the kids were up they just played while I laid down on the couch, Mike on the floor, and the came up to me or sat on him and just hung out for a little while. Mike was nice enough to get them all breakfast while I laid down for a little longer- Lynae had kept me up quite a bit the night before.

Around 9:30 Mike and Kristopher took showers and I got the other 4 kids dressed and shoes on and we headed out for a quick visit to Target. Though we were going for a few things for Mike's Kenya trip, a birthday gift for Brianna, and to look at and price another thing or two, we also took a quick glance through the after-Christmas sales :) We did find some more of the big foam mats for our playroom that were 30% off which was worth it since we'd looked at them several times and this saved us almost $15.

We'd brought bottles and such, but the man that packed the cooler forgot baby food... so we ended up going back home instead of going out to a quick lunch and to another store or two. So when we did get home we had a quick lunch and put Micah and Brianna down for naps. Brianna has learned how to get out of bed at nap time though she'll sit in there for a little while before gracing us with her presence :) We all had a little rest time, and Mike built the new 'cube' that I got for Christmas to add to the one we have by the front door. Now we have double the storage there, which is great!!

After all the kids were up and we'd finished up the things in the house that we were working on I threw dinner in the oven with an auto-shut-off timer and we went outside with all the kids. Lynae hung out in the stroller, Micah played with a foot-scoot little ride-on that he got last year for Christmas, Kristopher rode his bike, and Brianna and Emma both tried out their new tricycles! The girls both really really enjoyed their bikes! One of the bikes has a handle in the back that steers the front wheel as well. The petals on it will 'coast' like an adult bike so when the child is pushed their feet don't go around and around or get smacked in the legs :) The other is a 'regular' tricycle but both have a back to their seats and the second trike is built a little larger and fits Emma great- likely will for a while!

When we came inside we were greeted with a sweet aroma of cooked chicken with artichoke hearts and garlic. I popped in some veggies that steam in the bag and some garlic bread and we had a delicious dinner. Then we got all the kids baths and put the 4 little ones in footed sleepers and Kristopher put pajamas on and we all loaded up in the car!

We decided that since this year the days going up to Christmas were so rushed and we'd missed a few things we really enjoy doing, that we would spend the evening looking at Christmas lights!

So we put five little ones in the car, we drove through McDonald's and picked up a large french fry to split between us and some hot chocolate for Mike and I, and we drove- well after everyone's bedtime- all around town to see the lights :).

By the time we got home everyone was asleep but we'd already done medicine and brushed teeth, so we just carried them in and straight to their beds.

What a fun, relaxing, and sweet day we had with our kids! (and yes, I have a few pic's to share... they're somewhere with the Christmas photos...)

Saturday, December 26

Right now...

Emma's playing with a baby doll from Grandma
Kristopher has his new leapster game going
Brianna's playing with a Leap Frog Scribble and Write (mostly scribbling going on)
Micah's laying on a new book rubbing its cover (don't ask, he's just funny like that)
and Lynae's telling me it's time for everyone else to go to bed so she can have my undivided attention.

Mike's at church, they're having a meeting after service tonight about his quickly approaching trip to Kenya.

And I'm watching all of my kids in awe that God has blessed us so abundantly today and always!

Merry Christmas!

Our Christmas and the festivities leading up to it were a lot of fun! I hope you had a blessed celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ!!

On Christmas eve we let the kids exchange small gifts that they'd bought for each other. Kristopher earned 1/2 of his Christmas 'buying power' for the kids and he and I went shopping last week to pick things out for them. He even wrapped them all himself! Then we went to Mike's parents' house in the afternoon and had a big family dinner together. Afterward we went to church... which was an experience. In a 45 minute service we managed to have one kid spit up ALL over and another kid load their diaper (twice!). And Emma kept periodically yelling throughout. But we made it through! I hate to feel that way about church, but with 5 kids and 4 adults (Mike's parents were with us some of the time) it really did work out ok.

Christmas morning my sister was here for a short time. Lynae started SCREAMING while I was getting dressed- No idea why! So Elizabeth got up whether she really had wanted to or not :) The kids discovered that Santa had come and we had a relaxed morning exchanging gifts for one another and seeing if Santa brought what each of the kids asked for. This was Micah and Emma's 2nd Christmas with us, but the first year they really enjoyed opening gifts. Micah was still somewhat off in his own little land, but he would try and wanted to see what was in them if we were with him.

Of course this is Lynae's first Christmas and after that initial screaming fit she had a great day! She st with each of us, laid on a blanket to see what was happening around her, and loves the Christmas lights :) She did like the gifts she received too, which is always nice. And the good thing about big brothers and sisters is that they will 'restart' the music on a toy!

In the late morning we went to my parents' house and celebrated with five other bro/sis/sis in law, an aunt and two uncles! It was the most people to be home at Christmas in a long time! My one uncle wasn't feeling well so we did miss seeing him for Christmas. We all had a nice time visiting together, the kids playing with toys, the adults hanging out and talking, and Micah even got a nice long nap!

Unfortunately, yesterday I woke up with a bit of a sore throat and was careful not to share any germs throughout the day. Today I am achy and still have a sore throat, but DayQuil is a wonderful thing and I'm doing ok now that it's had some time to set in.

We had a blessed Christmas filled with family and friends! Eventually I'll get some photos up, but for now I'd rather enjoy my kids anad husband this beautiful Saturday! (Maybe at nap time :) ).

Friday, December 25

Irony

I get weird spam comments occasionally. Not enough to care so much. I just delete them and move on. Ironucally, this message was just left for me:

Great story you got here. It would be great to read something more concerning this theme. Thanx for sharing this info.
Sexy Lady

and of course there's a link which I've discarded.

But it wasn't just on ANY post... It was left on my post that it directly from the Bible with the story of Jesus' birth.

I wish "she" really did want to read something more concerning that theme. Yet somehow I don't think that's what the original author intended.

(these type of messages are left so people will visit their websites with... ick... on them. They're written "nicely" so that you might visit and not delete it.)

Thursday, December 24

The Message- Matthew 1

The Birth of Jesus
18-19The birth of Jesus took place like this. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. Before they came to the marriage bed, Joseph discovered she was pregnant. (It was by the Holy Spirit, but he didn't know that.) Joseph, chagrined but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced.

20-23While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God's angel spoke in the dream: "Joseph, son of David, don't hesitate to get married. Mary's pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God's Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus—'God saves'—because he will save his people from their sins." This would bring the prophet's embryonic sermon to full term:

Watch for this—a virgin will get pregnant and bear a son;
They will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for "God is with us").

24-25Then Joseph woke up. He did exactly what God's angel commanded in the dream: He married Mary. But he did not consummate the marriage until she had the baby. He named the baby Jesus.

Wednesday, December 23

The Loux Family... prayer request

From the beginning of our time in Ukraine we were made aware of a family who was coming to adopt the little Misha. They were a family that saw so many obstacles in their process and continued to overcome them, but they were the real reason that I ever saw a need in the Ukraine program and stepped in to Reece's Rainbow. The Loux family completed their adoption and brought home three sons all with special needs. They almost simultaneously adopted 2 girls from the Marshall Islands. This family of faith and with the biggest heart for the orphan that I have ever met... has met today with tragedy.

Derek Loux, when driving home from a conference to learn about combating child trafficking, died in a car accident when his vehicle hit black ice.

Renee (his wife) and their ten children along with his brother John and wife Tracie and family are now mourning the loss of their husband, brother, father... and we mourn the loss of a wonderful friend and advocate.

Please be in prayer for the Loux family. This kind of loss is difficult any time of year, but two days before Christmas is so much harder...

www.louxfamilyblog.com

Tuesday, December 22

It can't be ignored

Once we know the plight of orphans...
once we know the treatment they receive...
once we know how many are waiting...
once we know the lack of medical care...
--- the lack of love...
--- the lack of therapies...
--- the lack of attention...
Once we know their life span...
once we know their destiny...
once we know that there's a way to help...
once we know that God can even use me...

What choice do we have but to act on it?

Or turn away.

Unfortunately, turn away is what many choose to do.

I consider it a huge blessing to help be a voice for these sweet children. To advocate for them both in this online environment of 'virtual life' and in my day to day life as we meet people along the street... in the mall... at the doctor's office... at the school... and we share our story. Our story. The story God wrote for us. The one He's allowed us to be a part of.

But more than just being a voice, more than living it out with our two adopted kids, I am touched more by the adoptive families that I work with and the children they are bringing home than I could ever return to any of them. It's an honor to be a part of God's plan for these kids to come into their forever families!

Now that we know, though, what do we do?

One of the parents I'm helping adopt right now posted a blog post about the orphan. About how adoption is often looked at as an 'ok' thing for people who can no longer have their own children. It's a great second try at parenting. It's a way for parents to have the baby they long for if they cannot birth their own.

Or maybe...

It's ok for a family that has decided not to have more biological kids. One that has that drive for a larger family but will not be giving birth again. Then the orphan is there to fill that void.

But the point she made is that the orphan isn't even a part of the story until there's a mother longing to hold one. Until then, it's about the parents.

There are 147 million orphans!! Seriously, One hundred forty seven MILLION.

And whether or not you're looking to hug one or hold one or send one a $1/month meal, they're still there. Still living out their reality and not knowing what life is like in a family or with people that really care about them.

Especially orphans with special needs that lay in their beds day in and day out with little or no interaction and often minimal nourishment.

So what will you do? How will you choose to act on the knowledge of these people suffering? How has your life changed knowing about the orphans? How might theirs be? What will you do with this knowledge?

The ICK.

I'm SO TIRED of the ICK!

Today we brought Emma, Micah, and Brianna back to the pediatrician to retest for Strep now that they're just finished with 10 days of Omnicef, a strong antibiotic. Guess what?

EMMA IS NEGATIVE!! WOO HOO! This is the first time since August that she's tested negative! Which is a good thing because we now KNOW she's not a carrier. Unfortunately, it means that every time she tested positive in the last 4 months (4 times!!) she really DID have strep and really WAS sick!

Micah and Brianna, however, both tested positive. I'd say this gives us an answer, but it doesn't. Not at all. Brianna did NOT just do an antibiotic. And both have runny noses and coughs. So even though we know that they just finished anti's and SHOULDN'T have Strep unless they're carriers, it's possible that they both really DO have it and that the last anti just didn't kill it off for Micah.

So now what? Now we do another 10 days of antibiotics for both of them. This is the FIFTH TIME that Micah has been positive for Strep since August!! The third round of anti's for Brianna. *sigh*. We're trying something else and adding another drug on the end of the antibiotics to see if that will help. I forget what it's called, but we'll try it... It's supposed to reduce Strep even in a carrier.

In a month we'll go back and have these two re-tested again. That is, assuming that they don't show symptoms and end up back in the office before then. And at that point if we're still showing trouble we'll be putting in a call to the ENT. It sounds like unless this disappears very soon, Micah and maybe Brianna too will bee losing their tonsils. Brianna's already had her adenoids out.

For now, we'll enjoy the antibiotics and know that as long as they're on anti's they shouldn't be contagious! So we can enjoy the Christmas festivities with family without the fear of sharing the love :). Here's hoping no one else gets it!!

Oh, and a few things I learned-- A carrier CAN still spread it. Wasn't sure on that one. But often they don't treat a carrier... In our case, it is a BIG DEAL to get rid of it even in a carrier because the other kids are obviously catching it and we can NOT have the kids all constantly sick! And even if they remove the tonsils and adenoids, it's not a guarantee that this will get rid of Strep. It can hang out in the larynx and other places in the throat too. But in my opinion... the tonsils are a pretty good place to start if we're trying to get rid of it! As much as I hate for the kids to go through another surgery :( It's still got to be better than being sick constantly.

One more thing. If it doesn't go away even after the surgery, the other suggestion is to pull them out of school. If they're healthy while they're home, then there's likely a carrier at school that they are in close contact with and that they keep catching it from. Since both kids are in the same class, this isn't that far fetched of an idea. I hate to pull them from school since it really is a great program and I love their teachers, I will if that's what it takes to get them healthy and to STAY healthy. We could also change classes within the school if we'd be allowed to. That might be something we look in to.

For now, off to more antibiotics, and we'll spend our Christmas break trying to kick this ick!!

(PS. they've had 3 different types of antibiotics and this is round #5. We did one twice, then a different one, then another different one, and we're back to the 2nd one again with some other 'added' drug whose name escapes me and we have to get insurance prior approval for... no idea...)

Mike’s Master’s Commencement!

Down in West Palm Beach some friends from the world of the Internet were having surgery.  Coincidence?  Maybe, but it was wonderful spending a few hours getting to know Debbie better and to learn more about her and her family!  Debbie has adopted twice from Ukraine and her second adoption, a daughter, just completed some pretty intense limb surgeries and is still doing rehab for a few more days.  We found a ritzy area to grab a Starbucks and walk around.  The picture is a bit fuzzy, but here it is…

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Graduation was fun, Kristopher and Lynae went with us and here’s the Ham…

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Here are Mike’s parents and Lynae

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Notice something missing??  I only have a quick video clip of Mike walking, NO PICTURES!  My battery died.  His parents took pictures but I don’t have them yet…

Pictures with Santa

Kristopher and Brianna went to a breakfast with Santa last weekend and Kristopher got his picture taken with Santa!

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And while we were in West Palm Beach, my parents took care of Micah, Brianna, and Emma, and brought them to see Santa too!

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(this is a picture of a picture, the original doesn’t have as much glare!)

A visit from friends!

Last Monday we had the privilege of meeting someone that I’ve emailed with many times and who shares our heart for adoption…  I shared earlier about our get-together, but here are some pictures!

Linda with her new baby Beth- she’s just a week younger than Lynae :)

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And with Miss Emma…

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This one, Right to left is Linda with Beth (and a stuffed dog courtesy of Kristopher, he says the dog has Ds too so it should be in the photo and Linda is just too sweet!), Melissa (Missy) with her son Erik, and Me with Brianna, Emma, and Micah.  Missy and Erik live here in our town and Erik is from the same orphanage as Emma and Micah :)  SMALL world!!  We didn’t really know each other very well until her paperwork was sent my way to help her adopt and she didn’t know about our adoption…

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I think Mike took these other pictures (with Missy’s camera LOL) while we were trying to get everyone together… they turned out pretty cute- thanks for sending them to me Missy!!

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Wednesday, December 16

More conversations with Kristopher

We were listening to Christmas music in the car and one of the songs has John 3:16 in it. So I turned off the radio for a minute to take that teaching moment and once again work on Kristopher memorizing the verse. We copied through the verse once then I sang him a children's song version of the verse. We talked about what it means. Then, he responded.

"Mom, God made our heads out of rocks that he covered with heads, that's why they're round. How did God make rocks? How about sand? How'd he make that? Oh, can you turn the music back on?"

I know he hears me :) And I love the thought process of a 5 yr old boy! LOL

Mom...

When will we have another new baby that looks like Lynae? Because she's beautiful and always smiles at me and I want another baby like her.

Goodness, the things a 5 yr old can come up with! I don't think he's having jealousy or adjustment issues with the new baby, what do you think?

(and the answer was no, not right now, Kristopher! LOL)

Catching up on photos…

Last week Brianna was holding Lynae and both were all smiles!  It won’t be long until Lynae catches up with Brianna.  I’m guessing they’ll weigh the same by the time Lynae is about 18 months old.  Brianna is only 23 lbs!  Lynae looks chunkier in this picture than she really is, but she’s a good size for her height, 75% in weight and 90% in height for her age!

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Here’s how bad Micah was feeling last week… With a 104 fever I can’t blame him!  He fell asleep sitting up.  Granted, he does this quite a bit in his crib when he’s not sick too!

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Kristopher went through the house posing people with Christmas things and taking their pictures… Here’s Lynae with a small stocking and me with a Santa hat… Gotta love a 5 yr old’s creativity!

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His self-portrait (not bad actually!)

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Micah came out a bit fuzzy but still cute with the antlers.

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Emma’s hat has a character on it like Cat in the Hat, which was close enough to the Grinch that he said it’s Christmassy.  No, there wasn’t a rhyme or reason to Emma being Grinch.  It was just the one he actually got a photo of.

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Brianna didn’t want to participate so he put this container on his t-rex’s face and called him Rudolph

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Decorating the Christmas tree…

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I was amazed that Micah wanted to help!  He found where Brianna was getting ornaments from and went right over, picked one up, and set it on the tree!

Here’s Linda with Emma while they discussed a baby doll :)

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And here’s the real-live baby doll wearing a hat her great-grandma crochet’d for her!

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All the kids got one, but I only got pic’s of Lynae and Emma…

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Isn’t this sweet? Brianna is watching the Christmas tree with her ‘friends’ :)

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Tuesday, December 15

an update all around

This weekend went by quickly and proved to be just as busy as it sounded like it would be. Yesterday and today have been far more relaxed though!

Saturday Mike had a great time kayaking and was able to make it back in time to change his clothes and join us for the Special Olympics Young Athletes meet. In the morning Brianna and Kristopher went with Mike's mom to have breakfast with Santa and seems like they had a fun time there. I spent the morning getting the house picked up and making cookie dough and candies for the holiday's baking and gifting.

After the SOYA meet we had a little down time before Mike took Emma and Kristopher out to the Christmas parade. The lieele ones and I decided we'd stay home and I was able to finish up baking the dough from that morning and we played, got the kids bathed and in bed at a decent hour. During the parade Mike's mom about got run over by our float (she fell and ended up under the trailer) so even when Mike and the kids got home there was another period of busyness with phone calls and such related to that. Thankfully she is fine and just bruised up a bit.

Sunday morning we went to church and the last group to go to Kenya spoke about their trip, then this next group to go was prayed over and 'sent off'. Mike'll be in Kenya for 12 days pretty soon. He's going as a leader on a college group trip but while he's there he's also finishing a project that he started a few months ago getting the pastoral college set up with a computer lab of sorts. He'll also be helping a radio station with some networking while he's down there. He's really looking forward to it and I'm not dreading him being gone too much :)

Sunday afternoon Mike's aunts, grandma, and some of the cousins came by and hung out for the afternoon. It was nice to be able to visit and have our kids free to roam and play. It's always hard to bring them into someone else's home that doesn't have any young kids and be able to let your guard completely down. This side of the family usually gets together on Christmas day in Orlando/Sanford (an hour away), but we decided to invite them over this weekend instead of trying to attend that this year. With all 5 kids we know they'll want to play with new toys and just lay low and not have to be in the car for an hour each way and be told 'no' constantly in someone else's home! It was great being able to visit with everyone and we hope to be able to do this again in the coming years!

Monday we got a surprise! Well, we set it up on Saturday, but a wonderful "online friend" came over, one that I'm SO glad to have been able to meet face-to-face and spend some time with! This sweet woman is a single mom to FIFTEEN. Yes, she's that good :)

My real connections to her are because she has a child that I had and I have a child she almost had! Confused? Not hard to do! When we went to Ukraine there was this doubt in our minds that we'd be able to get Sasha's referral. So RR was 'holding' Daria from anyone committing to ger until we knew we'd be able to get Sasha. When we did get her referral, we didn't realize that there was still a chance that we wouldn't get to adopt her and RR's hold of Daria was released. This sweet momma committed to bring Daria home knowing that she was in pretty bad shape and she jumped right in to try to get her.

Just a week later (or less) when we realized there was no way for us to bring Sasha home, L released Daria knowing that we were THERE and could bring her home quickly. Daria then became Emma and it was great to be able to introduce my daughter to someone else that log]ved her enough to commit to bring her home! (God's timing... Ukraine soon closed to allowing singles to adopt and L would not have been able to bring her home... isn't God amazing?)

We had a great visit with L and two local RR friends came by with their families to meet her as well. It was a lot of fun! I've been told I've never met a stranger, but with some of these RR families, L especially, I don't feel like she was a person I met for the first time... she and I may as well have been friends for life. It's so interesting how the Internet can make friends of people that live on opposite sides of the country (or world!) have such a kinship!

Today was just back to school, work, and play! Tomorrow is Kristopher's field trip to the supermarket then to sing at a local nursing home and have lunch at the park. Lynae and I will be joining them for the day and it should be fun!

Lynae and I have taken naps together twice today now... the weekend wore me out! But I don't think she's going to be quite as excited about going to bed as I am, even if it is getting late!

Friday, December 11

Graduation Banquet!

Tonight was Mike's graduation banquet and 'hooding ceremony'! We had a nice time with several of his classmates and professors and spent 5 hours driving and enjoying the evening. It was a lot of fun and I'm so proud of Mike for all that he's accomplished! His graduation commencement ceremony is next weekend.

While one of the professors was addressing the students speaking of perseverance he said that he thought the most he's ever seen a person go through and still graduate was the girl sitting at his table that had given birth just days prior (literally, baby was born on Sunday!) and had just finished up her classes. I won't minimize that ONE BIT, but it also made me think- what has Mike had to overcome to finish his degree?

Well, let's see, he started his master's classes in August 2007. We started our adoption in September 2007. Then he took a class off in January-March of 2008 because he and I were out of the country for 4 weeks and then he was home with the kids without me and still working for another 3 weeks of that. His next class started a week or two after we brought the kids home, mid-March 2008. Then in April 2008 we received the terminal prognosis for Emma after her heart cath and spent the next 2 months trying to convince doctors to do her heart surgery. Oh, and the day after that cath we spent a week in the hospital with Micah with pneumonia. June 2008 we spent 8 days in St. Pete, Mike was there for at least 4 of those, having Emma's tonsils and adenoids out (not a major surgery in general, but for her it was a very high risk surgery!).

And in August 2008 he started his second year of the program. He had kindof a busy first year, wouldn't you say? Well, August 2008 we said goodbye to Emma and handed her over for her open heart surgery, praising God when she came through WONDERFULLY! He spent 2 days with us in St. Pete and I was there for a total of 6. In January 2009 we found out we were expecting another little blessing. Along with that Michael doubled up on his course-load (already full time and now going double-time) to make up the class he'd missed the previous year. Now he had 2x the course load, full time work, a sick & pregnant wife, and of course our 4 kids. Considering the previous year, this one was pretty calm! But as Mike finished his last class, his last finals, four of our kids started school! He finished out his program just days before we welcomed Lynae into the family.

I'd say he endured quite a bit, and his perseverance (and yes, I'll say it, mine too!) was tested and he still came out on top! Congratulations Michael!! We're very proud of you!

I know he doesn't read my blog very often, but I will make sure he gets any comments you might want to leave for him. Those of you that have followed us from the beginning... this blog was started just a month or so into his Master's program, so you know very well what he's made it through this last 2 years!

Micah and Brianna

Today I have 3 kids home since there's no prek on Friday for my 2. Brianna is usually good to play in any room of the house without making too much trouble. Sometimes she gets out toys and doesn't want to put them away, but that's about it. Oh, and books. She's notorious for emptying our book bins. But I like that she'll sit and look at all the books once she did that so it doesn't bother me so much. And she'll help clean those up.

This morning I got sidetracked from household stuff because I received some paperwork I've been waiting a few weeks on from Ukraine. I needed to set up documents for 4 of our families and one family that's ALL we were still waiting on. So while I did that Brianna played in the living room. Then she went into her bedroom.

I was a little late when I looked in her room and noticed that out of the 4 dressers in the room, 2 were empty from her height on down... and there was a mountain of shorts, pants, and capris on the floor! Oh my I thought... and I checked into the living room. Just as I'd suspected, all the clothes (3 loads worth) that I'd sorted last night lay in one big heap on the floor. No longer sorted or folded. So much for everything I did get done yesterday.

So this morning I've re-sorted, re-folded, and re-put-away a LOT of clothes. Oh, and I've re-decorated half the Christmas tree too. So much for not getting into things? I guess she wasn't happy I'd told her the playroom was too cold? She did get "her way" eventually and Micah and Brianna are both having a good time out there now!

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A few days ago when we decorated our Christmas tree we tried to make it a 'family affair' but knew better than to bring Emma and Micah in to sit there or to encourage them to touch the tree for this half hour and never again. So I opened the door from the playroom to the living room and we could see them- they could see us- and Mike, K, B, and I began to decorate the tree. Lynae was sleeping :).

Micah decided to come check us out and watched for just a minute. Then he went over to the pile of ornaments Brianna was picking from, picked up an ornament, and went and set it on the tree branches! Who'd have thought? What a smart little cookie! So Micah ended up helping us decorate the tree too :)

A little shout out...

If you've been reading here long you know the story of our adoption and our intentions to bring home a 5 yr old boy and girl. Sasha was unavailable and we canceled Misha's adoption because another family was going to adopt him. When Misha's family got to Ukraine he'd been transferred to a mental institution and they couldn't swing an adoption from two locations. Another family was traveling soon and stepped up to adopt Misha. He came home in March of this year! His new name is Micah and he's adjusting well to family life but not without its difficulties due to the time he spent in an institution.

Now there's another little girl. One whose story is very much like our Emma's story- a family went over to adopt Emma but did not for reasons of their own. Ruslana has had the same outcome, a family came and met her but for reasons of their own did not bring her home. That was just a few short weeks ago. Ruslana was due to be transferred immediately. Just as God sent us to Emma while we were in country, God had already prepared the hearts of another family to bring Ruslana home!

The Malone family, now momma and papa to Micah (Misha), are adopting Ruslana!

Please take a look at their blog and prayerfully support them on their journey to bring her home! If you can step in for them financially, I know they would appreciate it as well. Their adoption funding HAS TO be done by God alone, they have to raise their entire adoption funding ($20k) in just 2 months...

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Thursday, December 10

Want to give the gift of life?

Olga is another little girl that I met while in Ukraine. She is an adorable little one with Cerebral Palsy. A family that adopted from our orphanage is holding a matching funds fundraiser for her and I just wanted to spread the word a little. Here's Michelle's message:

Matching funds all day tomorrow (Friday, December 11th) for Olga‏ as we celebrate the anniversary of Mary's gotcha day!! Dec 11th she was declared ours and we hers :)

Come celebrate with us and please link to this if you can. One day only, all donations matched up to a total of $100. It is our great desire to see Olga's fund SWELL and our fervent prayer that a family will commit to her by Christmas Day.

http://fromnctoukraine.blogspot.com/

Michelle

I'd love to see this little one have a family on the way!

More random thoughts

Calling your brother Daddy is cute- after all Micah and Michael sound very similar. Unfortunately people have no idea what she's talking about or think she's confused when they talk to Brianna!

Calling a bib a boob is only cute for a little while. At least it's Micah's bibs that she calls boobs. Not Lynae's-- or the boob part might be more mistakingly appropriate.

Nothing good can come out of chewing on the coffee table. And no, we don't have a dog any more. It was a child. Or two.

On that note, isn't it ironic that I just bought the dog anew bed and new nail clippers? Thankfully I didn't save them for Christmas and she enjoyed them her last few weeks with us!

We have an orinament on the tree that looks like our dog did as a puppy with the date of her first Christmas on it. Kristopher is a strange child and asked if we could write "she's dead" on the bottom of it. I think he's afraid Santa won't be aware and will bring her a gift? Not sure but we did talk Kristopher out of that one.

Emma wants very much to stand up and take a step. Maybe by next year she'll be running around with the other 4. Yikes, I'll have 5 runners next year! At the moment she can't quite figure out the weight shift and balance and strength all at the same time. This girl's got some gumption though, so be watching for that 'first steps' post. I'm sure it's coming soon!!

I'm usually good for a bit of randomness...

Last week was aunt's birthday- Happy Birthday Aunt Birgitt!

Last night I went shopping for Christmas and got home near midnight. I do believe I'm finished.

If you are considering buying a tricycle anytime soon, check out Walmart.com's Radio Flyer products. I wanted one with a parent handle that steers the front wheel to help my kids learn to ride. It also has a seat with a back on it. $60 marked down to $42 and now it is $25. With tax and shipping Brianna's getting it for $31. Yippee for great sales, go check them out!

I like the DK My First products for my 3 littles and found learning cards, like flash cards, that are textured. They have several sets available for about $10 each set of 16 different places online. At Sam's Club they have a 'pack' with these cards AND a book for $11 together. Love it! Find a friend with a card if you don't have one :) There were 3 different packs available at our store.

The "Tag Junior" is a really cute little gizmo that we bought for the 3 littles (but we're giving it to Emma). I didn't realize, though, that you HAVE TO have an Internet connection available to download each book that you buy. And the gizmo holds maybe 6 or 8 books at a time, any more than that store on your computer to be shuffled on or off.

I un-package most of my kids' toys before Christmas. I know it means it's harder to wrap, and it also means that they don't get to see the pictures on the box. But the joy they have in being able to open a gift and play with it without having to hand it back over to Mike and I to undo the 30 zip ties and 20 wire twisties before letting them play with it is well worth it. This year I'm especially glad I did because I didn't know about the Internet thing for the Tag Jr. and now I was able to set it up with the book E's getting with it for Christmas as well as the 2 I bought and set aside for later... so when I do give those to her they're already on her device.

I decided not to un-package Kristopher's toys this year. For a few reasons. 1. He has more patience than the younger kids. 2. He likes looking at the boxes and in fact would store EVERYTHING if we would let him. 3. He is the only child that will walk into the room and look at the 'big present' and wonder if it's his. And mostly, it will be. Not because the toy is bigger but because the box is 4x the size of the toy :). 4. I already undid twisties off of 4 kids' toys, I was tired of un-packaging by the time I got to his things!

Yes, we really do only give the kids 4 gifts for Christmas. 3 from us (since Jesus only got 3 gifts for his birth...) and 1 from Santa. We also have a few stocking stuffers including a (cheap LOL) DVD for each of them, a small musical instrument (all 5 are part of a 'band in a box' percussion kit), and a personal-hygiene item (toothbrushes, pacifier, diaper cream, hairties...). They each have 1 or 2 small toys in their stockings too. Santa doesn't wrap the gifts he puts in our stockings, but he does wrap the presents he puts under our tree. What's your tradition with wrapping and Santa?

Traditionally every Christmas I give the kids all new Christmas pajamas on Christmas Eve and sometimes an outfit to wear to church. Mike always gets a new dress shirt. This year they all have pajamas and I only bought a Christmassy PJ for Lynae. And I gave Michael his new shirt before our staff dinner last week. So no Christmas eve gifts this year!

While I was setting up the Tag Jr. on the computer I realized it's the same website I needed to use to set up the Leapster 2 that Kristopher has to get it connected to the computer. I set it up and I'm impressed by the software! Kristopher is working on 2nd grade skills on a lot of his Leapster games (it told me this) and he's doing really well on most skills. Pretty neat!

I've been writing this post on and off for 20 minutes while doing other things and now I have to go get the kids at school!

Tuesday, December 8

Alive and well

Micah's fever broke last night- well, the high one anyway. He was running 103-104 even with Tylenol so we added in Motrin and finally overnight came down to about 102. He's still in the 100-102 range with meds but that's MUCH better! He's also breathing easier and has eaten breakfast and lunch today (bottles, but hey, I'll take that). He didn't drink more than 4 oz all day yesterday and that was thickened liquid because he aspirates thin...

Emma is back to her good cheery self and her runny nose has stopped so her nose is healing where it was just raw from her picking at it and being wiped.

Brianna stood by the door for 5 minutes while everyone was getting ready to leave this morning to make sure she wasn't being left home. She enjoys school and I'm SO glad she does! Yesterday wasn't so much fun for her around the house because Emma and Micah were sick so she wasn't allowed to play with them. All the kids pretty much watched movies for the day :) Awful parenting, I know. But would I rather them infect each other? Nope! Movies it was!

A wonderful friend called out of the blue yesterday and asked if she could bring us dinner tonight, not knowing that our home was all sick. She dropped it by already and I'm so thankful for God's provision of even the little things for us all. A home-cooked meal and all I have to do is put iti n the oven. Thanks Lorna and family!! I hope we can all get WELL and have a play-date soon :)

Today I'm cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. Getting rid of all the germs and putting away a lot of toys and getting rid of others. Seems like we do this every month or two, but it's necessary! The kids slowly get more toys out and we have to go back and start putting the ones that aren't getting played with away. And no better time than when I'm already Lysoling everything to get rid of the germs anyway :)

This Friday is Mike's graduation banquet for his Master's degree. Yes, he finished classes in August... but commencement isn't until the 19th of December :) So dinner on Friday it is.

Saturday Mike's going kayaking for the first time with a group since he got the kayak in June. I know he's glad to get out in it again too as it's been probably 3 months since he's been out at all... hmm... that correlates with something else that happened in our lives doesn't it? (Lynae was born LOL). AND, Saturday two of the kids may be going to a breakfast with Santa with Mike's parents. AND, Saturday is another Special Olympics Young Athletes meeting. Mike won't be back yet, but we may try to go anyway. There's a reporter that will be there and we've been asked to be interviewed (at another time, not Saturday) if we can make it on Saturday they're doing pictures. I'm sure they'd like to have a good turnout for the photo day. AND, Saturday is the Christmas parade! Emma has been asked to ride on the church's "diversity float" in her wheelchair. I think that's awesome since it shows the church is not only saying sure, we'll deal with having your kids here... but they're actually inviting other children with differences to be a part :) A step in the right direction!

Sunday... we have Mike's extended family all coming for a pre-Christmas party. Busy weekend? I think so! So, sick kids or not, I have to have the house ready for a lot of company before Friday afternoon or it won't be happening :)

Next week is the last week before school gets out for Christmas, so there's of course Christmas parties and Kristopher has a field trip on Wednesday. (and that's my Sister-in-law's birthday!) We also are going to Mike's graduation (some of us) down in Palm Beach that weekend.

Back to the little ones, time for naps :) Then back to cleaning!

THANK YOU for praying for Micah and Emma yesterday. They are well on the mend and Emma will go back to school tomorrow. I'll keep Micah home tomorrow and we'll see how it goes after that. GOd is good!!

Monday, December 7

We're home

The list...

Emma has Strep (surprised?)

and Micah has Strep
and Croup
with Stridor
and an ear infection
and possibly pneumonia

Antibiotics,
nebulizer treatments
and a cream for Emma's poor raw nose.

We'll go back Thursday if Micah's not doing a LOT better, and we'll go in next Fri as soon as they finish the anti's to retest Strep.

fun fun fun...

And the SICK comes around again...

We have had just one bout after another of sickness here lately :( Starting in August (a week or so into school...) Emma and Micah have had Strep 3 times, and Brianna at least one of those... she wasn't tested the other 2 times.

Emma and Micah finished antibiotics up last Monday. Today I was going to bring the kids to the doctor to be tested for Strep to see if they still test positive after a 10 day antibiotic regimen. Maybe one's a carrier...

Saturday Emma woke up with her face plastered in green snot. And with little bumps on her face. Just like the ones she has when she's been dx'd with strep two of the times.

At 5am we woke to Micah crying and struggling to breathe. After a nebulizer treatment, tylenol (101 fever to go with it), a nasal aspiration, and of course a clean diaper since he's had diarrhea since going ON the antibiotic 17 days ago... he's now sleeping loudly in the playpen curled up on his Boppy pillow.

So today we'd already planned on a doctor's visit, but we really thought it'd be a well visit...

Micah really isn't in good shape and I'm hoping he's ok to keep treating at home and doesn't need to be admitted to the hospital. Yeah, he sounds that bad. Since he's sleeping and breathing ok now we didn't take him to the ER, but it's definitely been a thought. Especially knowing the dr's office doesn't open for another 2 hours... it's not completely out yet.

Brianna, however, seems to be fine. I say this without her being awake for the day yet, so here's hoping that doesn't change when she gets up.

Please pray for the kids, it's so hard on them being sick so much. Physically they feel awful and it also gets them off their routines with school and makes a lot of other things difficult as well. And honestly, I'm SO TIRED of having to go to the doctor's and of administering antibiotics and of sterilizing my house... and... and... and. I'm done. We need to figure this out NOW. Not wait for them to get sick another 3x. My guess is the antibiotics aren't wiping out the Strep all the way. Or we have a carrier. But if it's NOT one of my kids, then they're getting it at school and that's a whole new issue. There's non way that it's just random that the kids have all been sick THIS MUCH!

Saturday, December 5

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ME!!

I just got a check in the mail to REFUND me the $999 that we paid when our Vanderbilt ER visit was sent to collections and we paid it while fighting the insurance company :) Granted the ER visit was over a YEAR ago... I'm VERY HAPPY to have that $999 back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 2

Christmas Shopping

I'm not quite in the mood to Christmas shop. I'm much more in the mood for tossing things out. I'd rather empty the toy box into a charity bin than add to it. I love the educational toys we have, and I'd like to pitch all the ones that aren't :). Not because the kids can't play without learning.. I don't mind that! I just don't think they need that many toys.

This Christmas I've bought some new games for K's learning system and a toy or two as I saw them that were VERY usable and very on sale. I know those few things will be used and enjoyed. But...

We have not just Christmas, but then 3 days later we'll celebrate an early birthday for Brianna (bday is Jan 3rd) and then in mid-Feb we have Emma and Kristopher's birthdays just 5 days apart. So it's not just Christmas, it's Christmas and birthdays all together.

Usually the kids get to open 4 gifts at Christmas. Three from Mom and Dad (after all, Jesus got 3 gifts, why do we need more?) and one from 'Santa'. Their stockings are filled with practical things like toothbrushes, a hair brush, and maybe a special soap or bubble bath.

I understand the idea of getting gifts at Christmas and though I do think it's very 'commercialized', I do enjoy that part of the holiday. Seriously, I love to give. So maybe this year my kids will find a new carseat (Kristopher), some big-kid-absorbent-underwear (Brianna), a few therapy pieces like a small trampoline (Brianna and Micah) and a tricycle (E, M, and B), and possibly some educational software (all 4!) under the tree. They're all young enough that I doubt they'd be disappointed!

But of course, I'll ask anyway... where do you shop? Any favorite online spots with great useful things for the kids? Knowing a bit about my 5 littles, do you have any suggestions for things they may like that won't end up in the garage sale bin by March? And, of course, economically speaking... things that won't break the bank. After all, there are five of them :)

Tuesday, December 1

Catching up on pictures!

When my sister, Elizabeth was down she handed Brianna her sunglasses in the car, so cute :)

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Random pictures of my mom and dad with the kids.  Micah is REALLY a good snuggler :)

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Just a baby girl being cute :)

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Kristopher with some Indian friends at their Thanksgiving program

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Brianna and Micah at their Thanksgiving ‘feasts’.  Yes, drinking bottles/sippy cups and eating crackers.  That’s a feast to them! :)

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This just cracked me up.  This is a filebox FULL of diapers.  Just enough with a few to spare to get us through 4 days.  Seriously, that’s a LOT of diapers!

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Some photos from the car ride up.  The girls were holding hands, so sweet (and it was EMMA’s idea!) and Brianna fell asleep cradling her groovy girl :)

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Dinner at Applebees with my oldest brother, Bruce and his first time meeting Lynae, Emma, and Micah! And a pic of him with Brianna just because… Kristopher didn’t climb on his lap so he missed the photo string :)

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Emma got her new glasses yesterday!  Her new Specs4Us are awesome!  She did great with them last night but didn’t make it quite through a full day of school today.  It’s a new script too so a few things to get used to.  I think they’re adorable though :)  Micah’s should be ready on Friday!

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