Sunday, February 27
Eli Project is a Christian Ministry intended to care for the orphans however God calls them! It is a wonderful ministry which I am glad to support!! It's a separate ministry from RR though the two ministries are on friendly terms :). If you haven't visited their website yet, click on any of the times I've said Eli Project and go check them out!
And now, I couldn't say it better than him, so here it is in Chris' words :) Thanks for sharing your heart and ministry with us Chris!
And so... for your viewing pleasure, a group of adorable little people who live in the home of our good friend Shelley Bedford... did the drawing via video!
A HUGE THANK YOU to all who contributed and shared this give-away! We are all amazed by God's goodness and His faithfulness to provide the finances to bring Masha home! A BIG THANK YOU from the Dickinson family! Their dossier has been submitted and they expect to travel in March to go meet her.
Gift card winner will be announced tomorrow.
Saturday, February 26
Lynae's taken off talking and understanding here lately! It's great to be able to say "I need to do _________" and be able to put her down and her understand why... WOW! :) LOL
Brianna's now potty trained in the daytime enough to be in underwear except for long drives. Those, we're still using the pull up... but mostly for security than real need.
Aleksa is also daytime toilet trained, for the most part. She's having occasional accidents but I think they're mostly avoidable and will disappear soon.
Michael and Kristopher have taken up running at night. We live on a dead end road and after they cross the highway there's a sidewalk that's pretty far off the road. They've been going about 3 miles in... well, a long time. But they're still pretty new to it and they're enjoying it, which is the best part!
Today my dad brought by a rejuvenated Leapster. I'm thinking he might have been just as much in love with Leapster (and its calming effects) as we were, but my parents were also the ones that originally purchased the Leapster for Kristopher 2 years ago. In case you're wondering, they're on sale at Target. HUGE thanks to my parents for that. Kristopher asked if it was his birthday still and we just rolled with that :). We're very grateful and we know that it will get a good 20 or more hours of use on it before the week is up!
I have a bunch of videos that I'm putting together of the kids around the house. Just random stuff, but I love seeing other people's kids "in action" so to speak to see what they're really like. There's always such a difference between how words can describe a person and how a video can. So I tried to get video of all the kids but I KNOW that I didn't. I decided to share anyway with what we've got. That'll be posting soon (it's uploading now).
I know we're long overdue for another Q&A and since we've brought home the new kiddo's I'm sure there's a stack of Q's in my 'starred' emails... but I haven't sat and answered them yet (ha, NO idea why... ;) ). So... here's your chance to post up beforehand if you have a question. A few requested posts that are coming up are about how people treat my kids in public places, how we 'like' or 'don't like' people to respond to us (strangers) in public, how our routines have modified since adding 2 more to the family, an update on our schooling situation for next year, our favorites and flops of toy recommendations, and brands brands brands (and off brands). So... if you don't have a question but rather want to see a post on a subject, feel free to comment or email me and I'll try to do it. I admit I EASILY forget things, so if you've made a request previously and I haven't posted, email me and check on it. Chances are good that I didn't think it was weird, but rather just forgot to do it :).
The iPad give-away was a HUGE success, as I'm sure you've seen if you've watched the Chip In this week. We also raised money via mailed-in donations and had a total of over $11,500! Aiming for $5,000 for airfare and really having very little faith myself (I was praying to at least make $2,000!), I am amazed at what God's faithfulness really looks like. God knew the need of the Dickinsons in order to go get Masha, and God used our little step of faith with finances to do something big. I'm amazed to be a part of it and look forward to seeing the winner announced (via Shelley Bedford!) tomorrow!
I spent about 2 hours trying to find the bottom of our 'closet' room today while Michael's mom came over and found our sink and counters! Since everyone's been sick, including myself, all the laundry had been getting washed but then it was being piled up instead of put away. Add some chaos to that in the form of Brianna going in there and dumping two bins (on two separate occasions!) of clothes that had been pulled out as being too small... and them being mixed in with the current stuff, and it made for quite a job! At the same time as I sorted and folded and put away clothes, I also arranged clothes (shorts and t-shirts of course) for 5-6 days in everyone's hanging baskets as well as setting aside clothes (long sleeves and long pants!) for our upcoming trip to Philly for my sister's wedding.
Kristopher learned how to hang shirts today and I'm not sure why I didn't teach him earlier! He's great at it and said "I feel like I work at a store where they hang up clothes!" while he asked if he could hang any MORE shirts (you should see how many he hung!). He also learned to fold towels, which we've worked on before and still needs a little guidance. I do have a stack of towels that looks much better than my pile did, but it's a little more leaning tower and a little less Eiffel than I really prefer :). Ah, well, HE HELPED and that's great news for me :).
The same suitcase that I took to Ukraine for me to have with ALL my things in it for an entire two months, I was able to pack only the clothes for 3 days (not even including pajamas or diapers... etc) for all of our kids.
Ok, that's all my randomness for now, but I'm sure I'll have more later... and videos! :)
Friday, February 25
I WILL BE ENDING THE CHIPIN AS SOON AS I WAKE UP IN THE MORNING IF IT DOESN'T CLOSE ON ITS OWN BEFORE THEN!
We are $999 away from meeting our final goal for Masha! Let's see just how close we can come to it! I have faith that it CAN be met! $10 here, $25 there... every little bit helps and it CAN be gone!
For anyone that shares from NOW UNTIL MIDNIGHT, I'll double your 'chances' at the $25 gift card because this is crunch time!
Drawing will be SUNDAY, so don't forget to come back and see who won! I hope it's YOU! :)
Though I'm pretty sure I never actually pressed your power switch and the down volume button was really our only interaction, I loved you just as much as Kristopher. Brianna really was growing a fondness to you, and her anticipation of ownership was palpable.
It's so sad that it ended this way... I'm sure Lynae didn't realize that she was putting you in a watery tomb when she threw you in the bathtub.
Rest in Peace, little Leapster 2. You will be missed...
(especially next week during our 22 hour drive to Philly... and 3 days in a hotel with very little entertainment... with 8 kids... and a long wedding reception... and no Leapster...)
The momma of the house who you fondly know as "turn the volume down or put on some headphones."
And 4 more kids went to the eye doctor today…
Brianna and James are now getting glasses, both are far sighted (which surprised me, I was thinking they were near sighted!).
Emma and Micah both are getting new glasses. Micah’s script didn’t change much (he’s far sighted too), but Emma’s left eye changed drastically (worse). Emma is near sighted and has nystagmus and strabismus.
We're up to 6 in glasses… and did I mention that Michael had an opthalmology appointment last week and he’s getting glasses too.
Now the glasses hunt will go from 2 pair to 7… *sigh*
I'll try for better pictures later, but we came home, ate lunch, and the kids laid down so haven't had much time for good pic's :)
Thursday, February 24
We're about $1,000 away from our final goal, which would cover all airfare, legal paperwork, transportation, and food and lodging for the family's first trip.
Please share, chip in if you can, and let's meet our fundraising goal!
Micah ended up only getting sick at school and was fine all day.
Emma got sick last night but has been good overnight and all day today.
James got sick last night but today has done fine including overnight last night.
Kristopher went back to school and was fine today.
Lynae is still spitting up some with Pediasure but that could be any number of things, and she is acting fine.
Brianna went back to school and was fine today.
Aleksa and Wesley never got it. (I don't dare say 'yet').
I have been awake for about 5 hours after sleeping all day and not sleeping at all last night. So far I'm doing ok, so here's hoping that after a good night's sleep I'll be alive and well in the morning.
After all, we have 6 opthalmologist appointments starting at 8am. And I get to dilate the kids' eyes before we leave, starting at 6am. Doesn't that sound FUN??
Aleksa and Wesley will get their new glasses, Emma and Micah will hopefully get new scripts, and James and Brianna are having their annual eye exams... we expect James to need glasses and maybe Brianna based on behaviors.
Time to feel better and get back to real life! It starts in about 6 hours...
(PS, thank you to Erin for watching Lynae tomorrow at the last minute since our babysitters all shifted around!)
Though I'm glad we celebrated your birth with a party a little early, so all was not lost on celebrating who you are, I had hoped to be the one to bring you that Happy Meal and to have lunch with you today. I had hoped to sing Happy Birthday and spend the afternoon doing something special.
Instead, others who love you stepped in and helped to keep your day special, and once again we'll have a "late celebration" to be your special time.
This year you've grown from a "little guy" into a "kid". Yeah, my terminology may be a bit weird, but really, at 6 you needed a lot more supervision, direction, and entertainment. Now, you're so much more independent in all of those things, and you've changed from being one of the little guys who I am doing everything for into a kid who often offers to help the little ones. You can cheer up any of your brothers and sisters with just a goofy word or action. You can figure out complex solutions to problems without any help. You're excelling in school in every area which your teacher agrees on. You've developed your own little personality which... really... isn't so little :). You have a sense of humor that people say "how old are you again??" which must come from your dad! You've taken a new level of skill in training up your body and pushing your limits by playing soccer this past year and now getting in to running several miles a day with your dad. You've become a little book worm like your mom, and have found ways to pass some quiet time as well.
It's hard to believe that it's been 7 years since you were born! I love you more today than ever before. I love you for being YOU. And I also love each attribute that you have. You're learning to be more like Jesus each day and to hear you tell me about ways that you're shaping your life is wonderful. I pray that this year you'll learn even more about each of the Fruits of the Spirit and will continue to learn and grow in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.
Happy 7th Birthday, Kristopher! With love from Mom and Dad.
A little tiny Happy Birthday to my big 7 yr old, Kristopher, today! Hopefully I will have the energy to write a post later.
And a big thanks to Grandma who jumped in this morning to help transport and to have lunch with Kristopher to make his day special since Mike's home tending the rest of the sickies and I'm.... well, not leaving. *sigh*
Wednesday, February 23
One evening Michael was getting James dressed for bed. He wasn't paying very close attention to what he was doing and as he sat him up I said "Mike, you're awesome." It had a tinge of jest in it... because he'd just completely dressed James in Lynae's pajamas that are not only PURPLE, but also 2 sizes too small for him.
Then, my sweet husband spoke up in a way only he can (lol).
"James, I'll dress you in purple pajamas every day if it gets my wife to call me awesome."
Then, last night he proved his real awesomeness when he went to WalMart and picked up a case of Coke for me. Except, he didn't just get the requested case of coke. No, he bought 2-24packs! That should hold me for a little while :). And, I just discovered that he re-stocked my little candy stash too! Not just the awful Valentine's candy that the kids bring home from school at this time every year (and gets thrown out a few months later...) but.. real candy that is good :). Like Reece's Peanut Butter Cups and York Peppermint Patties. Yes... good stuff.
And so, I wanted to say that my husband is awesome and if he thinks he has to dress James in purple pajamas for me to say it, I must not be saying it quite enough (though I did enjoy the laugh :) ).
Emma's throwing up, James was still throwing up last night and isn't much interested in anything to do with a drink today (but we're keeping him hydrated) and Lynae started throwing up again after a 24 hour reprieve. Maybe because she was sitting next to Emma when she did? No idea.
Michael, Brianna, Lynae, Kristopher, James, and Emma have now all had it. Can we be DONE now??
The winner is the first poster (I couldn't BELIEVE there were only 2 entries!! But... better chances for those two :) ).
Congratulations Sela Freuler! Please contact me at meredithcornish at gmail dot com so I can send a $20 gift card your way!
**NOTE: I haven't received shipping info for some Ukrainian chocolate give-aways back in the NAMING WESLEY contest... so if you didn't get your chocolate... I still have it and it's waiting for you!! :) **
46 people with $25 will meet the goal...
23 people with $50 will meet the goal...
12 people with $100 will exceed the goal...
6 people with $200 will exceed the goal...
4 people with $300 will exceed the goal...
We CAN do this together!!!
Tuesday, February 22
I did think I'd lost Brianna for a few minutes tho! I walked into the family room where she had been and there is Kristopher watching an old episode of Transformers... and no Brianna.
I'd moved James' playpen out to the playroom so he would stop screaming (he was sure he should scream at the top of his lungs for attention during nap time every time I walked into the family room). The three other little girls were in their beds, two little boys in their beds, and where was Brianna?
Not in my room, not in the foyer, laundry room, closet room, family room, kids' bedrooms... bathrooms...
No, she was next to the couch in the living room sound asleep on the floor... :) That's my girl! :)
Lyndi made it home last night and called me on her way to work today. Here's hoping none of her kids star up with this... though they were only exposed to Brianna while throwing up... thankfully! She mentioned that it's my 4 American born babies that have gotten the good stuff. My 4 Ukrainian born little ones appear to (at this point anyway) have avoided it! We have always said that our Ukrainian born kiddo's that spent time in an orphanage tend to have immune systems of STEEL! :) So, maybe they will avoid this after all.
As for me, I'm still upright and not puking too, so I'm hopeful that my alcohol baths (of hand sanitizer) are going to keep me from catching it... but I have been the one catching puke from all 4 kids, so it's more likely that as soon as they're all better I'll come down with it. At least it's a SHORT lived bug!
Before we started down the sick train yesterday, I actually had a great day with lots of accomplishments :). We saw off Lyndi and family in the morning then worked on getting things organized around here. We had a GREAT time with them, and I'm so glad they came! And contrary to Lyndi's indications otherwise, they really didn't leave us a mess :). I started in on laundry and dishes, since those were both just a little in need... then went out to the garage and figured out that we have a LOT of kid-stuff that we'll be doing a garage sale with in the next few weekends! Our neighborhood garage sale is coming up and that's likely our target date (Macrh 12?).
I made a long list of all the goodies that are leaving and sorted through a few more closets to find other miscellaneous stuff that could also leave the house!
Next I went on to finishing the living room. I'd started it a few days before Lyndi came down and it was to a 'livable' spot when they came. But it wasn't quite where I wanted it yet. Yesterday I finished cleaning it out, clearing out, especially, the walkway from the kitchen to living room. I used to have a desk that stuck out there a bit and it disappeared off to our bedroom now. That will help clear out that area so that Wesley's wheelchair fits through there MUCH better! It doesn't fit through our baby gate from the kitchen to family room, so we have to go through the living room to get anywhere in the house!
So now, the living room is rearranged to better meet our needs with the wheelchair and it's also 100% cleaned out and organized :) Our bedroom and guest room (where the 'junk' relocated) are another matter, for another day :)
Monday, February 21
Either way, tonight should prove to be an interesting night. I'm very glad for my pack-n- plays and that the carpet in the family room is just a big throw rug...
Saturday, February 19
Anyway, the goal that was set in the last few days here is MET! We have had several generous donations, including a large online and a $250 offline contribution made in just the last few hours :)
YAY for exceeding the goal!
Now, here's what God's used the iPad giveaway to cover:
$1000 legal fees
$2000 in country transportation
$2100 first trip lodging and food
Our next goal is another $1680 which is the cost of lodging for their second trip. The ChipIn widget may take a little time to kick in, but the new goal amount is set to $8,055! Add to that $4,285 of offline contributions... and the new total goal is $12,340. Just $1,290 to go to reach that goal! Still six days left.
I just talked to Meghan and she sends a huge THANK YOU to all who have participated through donations and getting the word out to bring Masha HOME! God is good!
About a week ago he had three little 'white head pimples' on his belly. Right before that he'd had one on his knee and then on his bottom. He'd had something similar twice before. The first time was at the hospital after he'd been there 2 or 3 days. He got one on his back, chest, and belly. They said no big deal... it was nothing.
Second time was one on his lip and one on his chin. They went away too...
Both times, if it was popped, it got big, a 'lump' under the skin, then eventually went down. No matter whether the head was popped or not, they would then turn purplish and go away, but not after leaving a mark for quite some time...
This followed suit. The one on his knee and on his bottom both got popped. Both got a big welt under the skin. The ones on his belly didn't, and they started going away.
The one on his bottom got worse.
Last night his bottom went from a welt to a large thing that looked like a cyst and was purplish on the skin like it was majorly inflamed. This morning we called the doctor's office.
James has what we believe is Staph. Not only that, but since he's had these same little 'pimples' 3 times now, it is likely MRSA. Fun stuff....
He is now on a heavy duty antibiotic and an antibiotic cream for his 'spots.' No one else has gotten it after all this time, but we are of course taking more precautions to be sure that they don't!
As far as school goes, the doctor said there's no issue with him going to school. I thought that was kind of weird, but considering the only spots are in his diaper and tummy area, I guess that maybe that's why?
Anyway, he seems fine, aside from the irritation when we mess with his bottom. Otherwise he's in great spirits and is allover doing well!
Just one. more. thing... poor baby :(
- 16 people were up, dressed, fed, and playing by about 9am.
- Everyone survived hanging out and playing (inside and out) all morning without too much intervention.
- Lunch was cooked, served, and eaten in 30 minutes. In case you're wondering, we used 24 tortillas and about 1.5lbs of shredded cheddar cheese to feed 13 people (2 boys and Mike didn't eat them) quesadillas. Yum yum yum :).
- We managed to make it an entire day only using 1 cup for each child.
- Everyone except James ate brownies to celebrate Emma's birthday and the only child that didn't finish theirs? Emma... go figure?
- We ordered and ate 90 chicken nuggets at McDonald's and 4 large fries. Then went to the park to eat and play and didn't even get eaten alive by mosquitoes (but it was getting chilly by the time we left!).
- 12 children and 1 adult have made it through the shower in the last 2 hours.
- 11 kids are in bed and asleep as I type this, one showering and the 'big boy' (Lyndi's Steven) is playing DS. Not too bad!
- Tomorrow we're going to have breakfast and head out to Downtown Disney for a surprise trip to the Lego store for Steven (SHHHHHHHH! It's a SURPRISE!). His birthday was the 10th and he still hasn't a clue what his gift is going to be. Should be fun! YES, all 16 of us are planning to go :).
- Mike's parents brought us over some ribs from a function they were at (I didn't get details) so we'll be back here in time for supper! The Shupps are headed back to TN on Monday morning.
Sweet Emma, you came into our lives as a 'shock' and a surprise. When we met you we didn't know how much we needed you in our lives. You had so many surprises up your sleeve... some good and some bad... like the health concerns and difficult times medically and then the joy that you would take your first steps one day!
In the last year you've amazed us with your new communication and sign language, your sweet desire to be with us and be social, and of course your walking!
We are so proud of the sweet little girl you've become, of the things you've learned this year and the skills you're developing. Most of all, though, we are proud because you are YOU and we are so blessed to be able to raise you.
We love you SO MUCH! Happy 8th Birthday Emma!!
Friday, February 18
The Shupps are here! Well, most of them anyway :). Those of you that don’t know Lyndi and the clan, you may recognize the sweet little boy in orange at the front of the picture that is intensely focused on the Cars movie… that’s ‘my’ Patrick! The little guy I watched over the summer while his parents were in Ukraine adopting his new brother Freddie (Fedia). Lyndi and Patrick came back for the long weekend along with her three girls and another one of her sons. The two oldest boys (including Fedia) didn’t make the drive down this time.
We’re looking forward to a fun weekend!!
**As a special way of celebrating, we will be giving away an extra $20 gift card to one person who shares the iPad give-away post over the next three days! It's our way of celebrating three years home!
Here's my request: If you have been touched in some way shape or form by our Micah or Emma over the last 3 years, will you help us celebrate their lives by sharing the link below?? :) Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, email... however you might want to share! Post a comment here letting us know that you shared it and you'll be entered into BOTH this $20 gift card give-away AND the $25 gift card give-away that is a part of the original 'incentives' :)
Here's the link and a suggested post!
I've been touched by the love of an orphan-no-more with Down syndrome!
I am amazed at what God is doing through this! Online we are at $5,800 and offline another $4,000!
The grand total... $9,800!
I just talked to Meghan this morning and they are so grateful to everyone who has donated to help Masha come home! It's amazing to see the total grow.
Now... here is what your donations have provided:
legal fees: $1,000
transportation in country: $2,000
we are $1200 into our next goal of $2,100 for their first trip food and lodging!
The next goal amount for the Chip-In to show is $6,700! We're only $900 away!
Let me tell you a little more about the Dickinson family... They are not only a Christian family that stepped out to love two orphans with Down syndrome two years ago, but also a family who despite their financial circumstances in not being able to provide the entire adoption cost for Masha, stepped out in HUGE faith, believing that God was bringing Masha home despite their circumstances. Now, I didn't ask Meghan if I could share this so hopefully she doesn't mind :). I KNOW that they can provide for their children in their home ONCE they are home. No doubt about that! They are great with all of their kids and adding Masha will be a definite blessing to them and, of course, to Masha! But reality is reality. And international adoption is expensive.
Much like our experience with Aleksa, the western part of the country, where their Masha is, is a much more expensive area to adopt from. Aleksa's facilitation fees alone were $3,000 more than Wesley's due to the area she was in. The Dickinson's adoption is much the same, with a higher facilitation fee and a lot of unknowns about their travel and housing costs. They, too, will be the first to adopt a child with Down syndrome from the orphanage that they're going to!
At the beginning of this fundraiser, the Dickinsons had a mountain to climb to get to Masha. Through your generous donations, that mountain is becoming a hill! Please continue to SHARE this give-away with your friends and family, on FaceBook, blogs, wherever you can! The mountain is smaller, but there's still a ways to go.
Let's meet our next goal quickly! Let's get to $10,700! Let's show just how BIG our God is and how every piece-- big or small-- works together for the united goal!
We're looking for the ChipIn to reach $6,700 soon!! (ChipIn ends on Friday, 2/25!)
What I couldn't know when birthing our daughter is that she would need heart surgery.
What I couldn't know during Brianna's heart surgery is that we would do it all again for another daughter.
What I couldn't know at the beginning of our first adoption is that we would bring home two very different children.
What I couldn't know while in Ukraine the first time is that we would go back and do it all again.
What I couldn't know once home in '08 is that we would have another baby just a year and a half later.
What I couldn't know when having Lynae is that we would begin the adoption process again in 3 months.
What I couldn't know when adopting James is that we would be called overseas again very soon.
What I couldn't know when committing to Wesley is that we would bring home two children.
What I couldn't know when hearing that Aleksa is alive is that she would be in our home just a few months later.
What I couldn't know then, I know now. And although sometimes we wish we could see into the future and know and prepare for what's to come... I'm so glad I didn't know. Because I might not have believed that God could sustain us all through it all and bring our beautiful children all to the place we are today.
I'm so thankful for what I couldn't know, and thankful for what I don't know. I'm thankful that God reveals everything in His timing for the betterment of His children!
Thursday, February 17
Now to plan life around that :)
Wednesday, February 16
Thank you for praying! We continue to pray health over all of our children! :)
Yes, yes, life is busy and I’ve written what’s on my heart but not necessarily what’s going on in everyday life :)!
First off, Wesley and Aleksa are both doing GREAT! We are amazed everyday by the new things they’re understanding and ways that they’re adapting and adjusting. They fit right in with the other kids and we no longer have any safety concerns between them and the other kids (we were cautious for a while but now things are good!). I think the biggest caution still there is with Emma and Wesley because she’s very interested in him but doesn’t know her own strength.
Aleksa is understanding new phrases in English and can follow simple familiar directions. Here are a few examples:
Take your shoes off
Put your shoes on
Put your shoes away
Do you want________ (she answers ‘da’ to EVERYTHING though…)
Let’s go bye bye
Say ‘hi’ (and she will! :) )
Give that back to ____________ (she recognizes the family members’ names)
As you can see they’re all simple short basic phrases, but they’re something we’re building on, and the fact that she is responding to all of those is just awesome! I think she is very capable of learning quickly and look forward to seeing who she becomes in the next months to come! She is a beautiful little thing with a sweet heart and a desire to please.
Now, that’s the good stuff :). Here’s the hard stuff. She’s 8. She’s lived in an orphanage for 5 years and a mental institution for 3. She’s never had a family, she’s never lived in a house, she’s never had responsibilities or expectations. She’s never been taught to do something for herself and she’s never been expected to talk or reply.
What do those things ‘look like’ right now? She cries. A lot. She cries silent tears that break your heart. And at the same time, though I know it sounds mean, they can be downright annoying too! She cries if I’m in the kitchen and she isn’t. She cries if she’s in the kitchen without food. She cries if someone else takes longer finishing their food than she does and she doesn’t have more. She cries when we grocery shop because she’s not eating. She cries a lot over food…
What do we do about it? Sometimes, all I can do is say “no, you’re fine, eat later… go play.” And hope that she decides to find something to distract her while I prepare a meal. Other times we sit and rock. Not often do I hand her food for crying at the doorway.
There’s more than one set of ‘rules’ at our house… because not all our kids are anything like each other and different levels of trust gain different abilities to roam. So it’s not a hard fast rule that no one eats before meal times. Lynae often goes to her high chair early because she’s hungry! Brianna often WANTS to but we discourage it. Both of them are BIRDY eaters, picking a little here and there to eat and they would eat at 4 and that’s it for the night. Aleksa is not a birdy eater. She eats quickly, everything, then cries for more. If we allowed her to eat before meals and then gave her a meal, she would eat and eat and eat… and that’s not a healthy habit to start. If we give her food ahead and not as much at dinner, she is finished way WAY before anyone else (since she already scarves it down too quickly) and again… the tears. So, we try to push the little girls off until dinner and we encourage them ALL to just wait until the meal is served. But… it’s hard. And no matter what we have tears.
Another hard area has been toilet training, though I think we’re at a good place for the time being. Aleksa has gone all weekend and this week in underwear again and stayed dry. I’ve sent her to the toilet frequently and when we didn’t, she wet. But so far so good and I hope to have only 5 in diapers before too long! (Brianna is full time in Underwear too!)
Aleksa still has some things that I’m sure she just doesn’t understand with toileting, though. For instance, that a person must finish peeing before standing up to wipe. I ask if she’s done and she signs ‘done’ to me then stands up as pee runs down her legs into her pants and socks and shoes… Or she doesn’t wipe anything off of her bottom and throws the rag in the trash (we are using wipes because of this issue!) and pulls up her pants before you can get to her…
Little things, things that ‘irritate’ not things that we can’t live with. Things that put you on a last nerve but don’t make ANY difference if you’ve had a good night’s sleep and are able to just go with the flow :). We are doing great- she is doing great- and we are SO glad to finally have her home with us!
I will freely admit that I never once thought I’d adopt an 8 year old and I knew immediately when we committed to her that it would be hard. And it is. And I know that many of the things that I posted about in the “whispers” post would be said of us if I got on and posted in my frustrated moments with Aleksa. But reality is this: She is an orphan no more! She is a child of MINE and a child of God! She is loved, will always be loved, and we will deal with little quirks as we go. SO MUCH of her world has changed in the last few weeks. Today is 2 months since I got custody of Aleksa. Five months since I first had contact with Alla. She’s doing GREAT!
Wesley has many fewer behaviors and such to update on since we’re still learning each other. He wants to be on my hip a lot but is glad to be in his wheelchair too. He’s happiest if I have him where he can hear me and ‘follow ‘ me around the room by hearing my voice. We got him a little recliner for his birthday and he’s got a ‘seatbelt’ in it now which helps him not to fall out of it. He’s loving it as well! It’s great to have the ability to put him down and have him HAPPY. A big milestone!
He also is responding to verbal cues now such as “hands down” or “stop spitting”. He then laughs and does it again…. there’s something we need to work on!
We just scheduled Wesley’s hip surgery today for April 5th. It’s sooner than I was thinking it would be, but that’s good to get it in there before we get hit with awful heat in the summer. He will also be able to take advantage of more water therapy if he is cast-free in the hottest months.
Lynae is a bit jealous of Wesley so one goes on each hip :) Brianna and Aleksa are dancing a bit to figure roles out too, but they- so far- have been great too.
**I tried to post pic’s tonight but Mike cleared my camera memory card, so they’re gone for a little while :)
God gave you that child because He knew you could handle it. I never could do what you do.
You chose the road you're walking, so it's your own fault if everything's not what you thought it would be.
I told you it would be hard and here you are coming crying back to me when you didn't have to have/adopt the child in the first place.
You adopted them, you take care of them. It's not up to your community to help you to raise those kids.
If you knew life was going to be this hard for you wouldn't you have turned around before you adopted that child?
Your friends don't like you anymore because they think it's too loud at your house when you're on the phone.
Don't complain about your situation, you got there on your own.
Whatever problems you're dealing with- just remember that someone else has it worse.
Why would you ever encourage anyone else to intentionally do what you do and adopt those kids when looking at your family it's obviously hard?
Did they tell you your kids would be like they are before you adopted them or did they lie just to get you to take them off their hands?
Sorry, I can't help you because quite frankly your son scares me.
I don't see how your husband hasn't left you yet after you got all those kids. Isn't he tired of it all?
God might want us to take care of orphans, but He didn't say to invite them all back to your house. He only meant to make sure the ones closeby don't starve.
Why would you go adopt a kid over seas when there are so many waiting kids in Foster care in the USA that need families? Other countries should take care of their own kids too.
Are you ever going to stop???
Are they all yours???
And the most profoundly STUPID comment that I have ever heard (and yes, was directed at me though some of the above are ones friends shared with me)...
Why didn't she stop having kids after the first one was born retarded?
First, let me say very clearly and very STRONGLY...
Those words are not from God, and are NOT a 'message' from God. Those words are meant to kill, steal, and destroy and those things come from only one place (John 10:10).
Next, let me share this:
God intends for everyone. EVERYONE. EVERYONE. to take care of the orphans. James 1:27 says that pure and faultless religion is that which cares for the widows and orphans. It isn't a "take this, leave that" type of salad bar. It's something everyone is told to do.
Just because you listened when God called you and someone else hasn't been called in the same way doesn't mean that it is any less his responsibility to care for orphans than yours. It doesn't mean everyone should adopt. It doesn't mean no one should. It doesn't say take care of the orphans next to you. It says to care for those in their distress.
So here's what I'm claiming. When it comes to your disabled or adopted children, if it is not edifying and does not build up the Kingdom of God and His people, then let the words of others roll off of your back like oil on water because their words are not spoken in the Truth according to God's Word.
And. Right, I'm not done. :)
And, if you need help, even if you've "chosen" this road. Even though you're the one that didn't terminate your pregnancy, didn't walk away from the disabled child. Even though you're the one that chose to adopt a special needs child-- or five. Even if your own choices somewhere are mixed up into the family that you have (or if they aren't!) remember... always remember... that asking for help is not admitting defeat. In fact, it's very different.
Asking for help means admitting you cannot do it alone.
If I remember correctly, God doesn't intend for man to be alone and therefore He created woman. God doesn't intend for us to raise our families alone. He doesn't intend for us to wear ourselves down until there's nothing left to give because we won't ask for help or won't accept help if it's offered. He doesn't intend for us to put ourselves into the darkness because we've not had any sleep and we feel like we can't ask anyone to help us out since this "is our problem". God doesn't intend for us to end up in dark places because we're caring for a child with a disability or because we're caring for an orphan. He says to DO. And He knows we need help.
God won't give you any more than you can handle.
God DOES give us more than we can handle. ALONE.
He always gives us more than we can do by ourselves because without that dependency on Him we might not know to call out to Him.
God never gives us more than we can handle WITH HIS HELP.
And if someone that you've asked for help is feeding you those lines at the top of this post, remember that they are not speaking out of God's Word. They're speaking out of their own selfish hearts. Forgive them, and look to another source that has a close walk with God and will help you or find the help you need.
You don't have to be alone, and you don't have to hide. You're answering a calling that God's placed on your life and He doesn't intend for it to ruin you, but for it to bless you in the direction that He wants to direct your life.
You see...I consider any little bit of 'alone' time I have or time with other adult women (which just DOESN'T happen usually) to be treasured. So taking it every week seems like a lot. But it's not.
Here's where God's working on me.
God didn't give me eight children so that I could say "Thanks God, and don't forget that I need you in order to do this! But today I don't have any time for you because of all the other responsibilities you've given me."
I appreciate it so much when my Kristopher comes up and says "Mom, do you need help?" Admittedly, it doesn't happen often ;). But when it does, I'm always glad to say "absolutely!" and to give him a set of tasks that he can help me with. Put a new bag in the trash can, clean up the backpacks, empty lunchboxes, clean up the books in the living room, pull the sheets off the beds, change the laundry over... there's a whole list of things that he can do which he's pretty independent in and are very helpful to me when he helps out with them.
The thing is, when he's doing all of that, I'm coming along before or after him and either preparing the way (by taking the trash out so he can put a new bag in) or coming behind him to do the next step (by putting new sheets on the beds) which he can't quite do yet. I'm not sitting back watching him do all the work and glad to have him out of my hair.
When he's finished, I don't usually say "Good, now go to bed." No, part of the joy he has in completing such menial tasks is in knowing that he has helped me, and that he's going to be praised in the end for it. A pat on the back, a hug, and an encouraging word are all he's usually seeking, but sometimes a special treat or a snack, a promise of an extra few minutes before bedtime to read a book or something similar might be just what he needed.
When God asks us to do things for Him, he's right there with us preparing the way for us and finishing up when we've done what He asked us to. He's not sitting back thinking "Glad I got her out of my hair!" and never even paying attention. And we need to seek just the gratification of knowing that He will be pleased, that He will, in the end, say "well done, good and faithful servant." Sometimes he gives us an extra reward or recognition for the tasks we've done, but often it's simply "well done."
In the same way, he wants to spend that extra time with us too. He wants to invite us to share a special treat, he wants to let us sit and read with him an extra 5 minutes before we go to sleep.
He gives us things to do for His Kingdom-- sometimes little and sometimes big. Sometimes ongoing and sometimes temporary. Whatever the things He has you doing for him, those aren't the only thing that He wants. He still wants to spend time with you, for you to make time with him.
God didn't give me 8 children-- many with a lot of needs-- in order for me to spend every minute of my day feeding in to them and ignoring God (or my spouse for that matter). No, He gave us those responsibilities and joys knowing that there was still time for us to spend in communion with Him before the day is over.
And this week as I tried to get the Bible study pages finished before Wednesday's meeting, this was a big resounding "gong" that went off in my head. It's not about having a study 'done' by the meeting. It's about making and taking the time to spend with God every single day.
Healthy living also means community, and God is teaching us through not only His Word, but others' interpretations and applications of the Word. This time with other moms... it's priceless. And my relationship and walk with God will be stronger because of it! How would God be drawing me away from a closer communion with Him? He wouldn't be.
He doesn't call me selfish for attending a Bible study...
so where would those thoughts come from?
Tuesday, February 15
Monday, February 14
Considering we have six special little heart kiddo's in our family, I thought I'd do a little post about those six special hearts in the order that we learned about their hearts :)
Brianna was diagnosed with an A/V Canal, which has several other names as well... Atrioventricular Septal Defect or AVSD are the other two common names. This condition meant that she had a combination of 4 defects. A hole between the upper chambers of her heart, a hole between the lower chambers of her heart, and two valves that were both malformed. She had an additional ASD (hole in the upper chambers) and also had a small PFO which I didn't even know about until after the surgery :). A PFO is also called a Patent Foramen Ovale. Patent means open, and the Foramen Ovale is a passageway used by a baby in utero to bypass the lungs with some of the body's blood since it wasn't necessary for oxygenation. An Open Foramen Ovale means that it didn't close as it was supposed to soon after birth.
Brianna had open heart surgery at 5 months old weighing almost 8.5 lbs and looking like a newborn baby. She did GREAT through the surgery but ended up with an infection before being released to come home. Then, due to her continued weightloss, we fought for about 5 days trying to get her to eat before we conceded and a feeding tube was placed. After 19 days in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit, Brianna came home :). She has done wonderfully since then and now has annual heart checkups.
Our next cardiac kiddo was Emma. Emma also had an AV Canal, but due to her age, we were initially told after her heart catheterization that surgery would NOT be recommended because of the increased pressures in her lungs called pulmonary hypertension or PH. The PH is due to the heart functioning incorrectly for 5 years. We were told in no uncertain terms to bring her home, enjoy her, and she would likely pass away within the next 6 months. We did go home, but we didn't just sit back and say "ok, then that's all"... Instead we went to our cardiologist (locally- not the one that did the cath) and she looked Emma over. Her words were that she met Emma a month previous and now she had a light in her eyes that wasn't there. She needed that surgery. Our cardiologist pleaded our case, Emma's case, and a team of doctors agreed to see how things went with a full tonsilectomy and adenoidectomy then scheduled her heart surgery for soon after.
After preparing to be in the hospital for weeks and even up to 6 months, Emma had surgery on a Monday and went home the same Friday! She far surpassed all odds and is now a happy and thriving 8 year old (almost... Saturday she'll be 8!). For a girl who they said would never see her 6th birthday, that's a special day to celebrate! Emma sees cardiology every 6 months due to the PH, but her levels continue to decline and she has only minor regurgitation at this point!
It's very possible that Emma will require another heart surgery in the future, but for now everything is holding up ok and not deteriorating, which is a wonderful thing!!
Our third cardiac kiddo was Micah. He really only barely squeaks by as a cardiac kid, but he still is seen by cardiology. He was born with a thickened cushion in his heart. This could be because of the 'irregularities' that kids with Ds often have, or his mother could have been a diabetic which would also cause that. We have no idea, so we just watch it year to year. He goes annually for monitoring but otherwise is doing great!
James was our fourth cardiac kid, and at that point we felt pretty confident in our cardiology team and were secure in taking him in without regard to the heart. He has some minor sounds and had an ASD and a PDA (similar to a PFO but in a different area. PDA means Patent (open) Ductus Arteriosis and is also supposed to close after birth) which both closed spontaneously (without surgery), and he has PH. So he is seen every 6 months but otherwise is doing great :)!
Aleksa was, we thought, our last cardiac kiddo and we thought she may be clean and clear as well. But... not so much. She has what is likely a PDA but by 8 years old it should have closed by now. She will go to cardiology in 6 months and we'll see if it's something that needs to be operated on.
Our last surprise was that our baby girl, Lynae, who otherwise has no outstanding heart issues, has what appears to be a PDA. It's not uncommon for young kids to have this, and it generally closes by 3 years old. To be sure it closes, she is now followed by cardiology and will also see the doctor in 6 months. Hers may require closing if it doesn't close on its own as well.
Sunday, February 13
Then, we had a birthday party where we invited 12 friends and family members to share in the celebration of Wesley, Kristopher, and Emma's birthdays (turning 6 7 and 8!).
Now, you can't really tell that the room was once clean because it's covered in wrappers from toys, cards, and under the table is a good amount of birthday cake.
At least the cubbies are all organized now... right? :)
Pictures coming later! We had a great time celebrating and are so thankful to our friends and family for joining us!
To the Hollands: Kristopher said "I had a GREAT time!" (and he MEANT it!) and then... he said "but it would have been even better if the Hollands were here..." :) Just wanted to let you guys know he loves you and missed you. We COMPLETELY Understand why you couldn't make it! But that was too sweet not to share. :)
Saturday, February 12
See that ChipIn on the right? It reads (for me, though I know it doesn't update in 'real time' very well...) $3,660. Our matching money has officially been MATCHED by an offline donor. In fact, the matching money and two other donations have all together totaled another $4,000 in donations!
Yes, that means that right now the fundraiser is at $7,660! The Dickinsons' airfare is COVERED! Praise God!
The next goal was $1,000 for Masha's Visa, Medical, and Passport, and that is also COVERED!
In calculating airfare, we neglected to include the dynamics of the Dickinsons' specific travel plans. They will be doing the same thing that we did-- Both parents traveling and coming home after court then Meghan and a friend will return and bring Masha home. In this, we have left out about $600 in airfare, so that is another goal we've added, AND ALREADY MET! :)
A new goal has now been set to raise $2,000 for transportation in-country for the Dickinsons. We are only $940 from meeting that goal!!
I believe we will meet that goal too, because we serve a BIG GOD and He has great plans for bringing Masha home :)
Please KEEP SHARING! I noticed that the amount of FB posts has gone down the last few days and there's still almost 2 weeks to go in the Chip In! Don't forget to leave a comment when you post of FB or on your blog! Let's help the Dickinsons bring Masha Home!
Friday, February 11
First off, the month of January was exceedingly difficult with the overwhelming number of appointments that we had. That in and of itself in any one month was just crazy! Add on two brand new kids meaning that three children (Lynae included) had to go to every appointment even though they only needed to attend about half made it even busier. Add on to that the medical 'scare' with Lynae and Brianna meaning extra bloodwork, extra doctor's visits... extra stress... and it was just crazy.
February has been MUCH better! It's only day 11, but it has gone exceedingly better in terms of busyness! Admittedly, since Michael and I were both so wrung out from January (and December and November...) February was the time when we both were able to let down a little and other things-- like the lack of time together-- then hit the fan. Thankfully we had a wonderful retreat this week and right now, I can really truly say that life is GRAND!
That's not saying it's easy...
Our daily routine has definitely increased, and some of the 'gains' the other kids have made has certainly added on to the workload for us, but it is all worth it at the end of each day! (when we fall into bed exhausted!! :) ).
We get up around 4:30 each morning... not out of a need to be up at that hour but because that's the hour that Brianna has been waking at. If she doesn't, Lynae will! I typically go lay on the floor in Brianna's room or in the guest bed in Lynae's room depending on who's crying... (or talking!). Sometimes Mike will get up and get Lynae a cup of milk or start a movie for Brianna if it's later in the morning too. Either way, our morning usually starts well before the 6am alarm!
At 6 we get up and Mike gets in the shower. I start getting the kids up and onto their little potties in the bathroom. As they come off their potties I get them dressed and shoes, glasses, and hair brushed. By the time I've managed that x7 (Kristopher is pretty independent in it and showers with Mike often times) Michael's back out and gets some cereal out and drinks for all the kids. They move on in to the kitchen and start eating and we get morning medications together for James, Micah, and Lynae (Wesley's is in his drink and the other 4 don't have morning meds-- YAY! ;) ). If I'm so blessed as to get a shower that morning, I'll escape during breakfast.
Once breakfast is winding down we start in with brushing teeth and checking to see if the weather means coats, jackets, or just their clothes and whether a jacket needs to go into the backpack. We get ice packs into James and Micah's lunch boxes and make sure Kristopher's and Emma's folders were signed and everyone's papers from the previous night were taken care of. We gather any supplies needed for school like more diapers or changes of clothes. Then everyone comes to the foyer and gets jackets/backpacks on and goes out to load up in the car!
After school once we've managed to get everyone and everything into the house then whoever wants an afternoon snack goes to the table for some crackers or fruit or something along those lines. After snacks the kids go play for a little while and I unpack backpacks. All of the kids have a folder or note home daily and there's often a set of clothes that someone dirtied as well as lunch boxes for James and Micah. Once the backpacks are emptied it's time to refill them! :)
We get home about 2:30 so by 3 the kids are in and the backpacks emptied. The kids all take a trip through the toilet before going off to play. While the kids are occupied... if that's really possible since by that time Wesley usually realizes that he's not being held and Lynae wants to be connected to my hip! If I haven't made dinner 'in advance' then I try to start looking at dinner around 3:30. Of course there's plenty of laundry changing and dishes to do in the mean time as well!
By 4:30 dinner's close to being done and I start putting the kids back through the potty routine before dinner. Michael usually comes in at about 5:30 and sometimes we're at the table just waiting to put the plates on the table... sometimes we're not quite to the table... and sometimes the kids are just about done eating. Since James and Micah are both on cups now, there's a little more involved in getting those two to drink and James is sometimes needing it held for him to finish a drink. He's not exactly motivated about eating...
Around 6 everyone's generally finished eating and on bath nights we get the tub ready and tag-team to get all the kids bathed and into pajamas. By 6:45 we start on night time meds and brush everyone's teeth again. Brianna gets a breathing treatment at night so we get her started and usually turn on a 20 minute tv show (on Netflix, we don't have cable).
By 7:00 seven of the kids are on their way to bed and Kristopher is allowed to stay up until about 7:30 most nights. Part of his discipline involves losing or gaining time at bedtime though :).
Once the kids are in bed there's still some more to do. We look up the next day's weather and get everyone's clothes out and ready for the next morning. Then we get Micah and James' lunches ready for school and put them in the fridge. Last isn't completely necessary but definitely helpful, and that's getting breakfast stuff out such as 8 cups and bowls so that breakfast will go that much smoother the next morning.
And then comes laundry and dishes and picking up toys and the house... and somewhere in there is "put your feet up, relax, and blog" :). We generally try to start the end of the routine by 9:30 so we're in bed by 10:30 at the latest. We're usually in bed by 11 ;).
So... yes, life is busy! But it's wonderful, and the amount of hugs and kisses and cuddles and smiles we receive in a day generally makes it all worthwhile. And on the tough days without all the good stuff we still make it through simply because our God is bigger than today's troubles and we know that the new day will bring new light.
We are grateful that we also serve a God who forgives us when we ask for it and who we know has hand-picked these children for us and us for them. Since God is SO BIG, we don't have to worry that we've walked into something we can't handle. Since He's SO BIG, we can know that despite our downfalls, we were meant to parent each and every one of our kids. Since He's SO BIG, we can go to sleep knowing that today was worth every snot smeared shirt, every tear filled meal, every misplaced anger, every goof up toward our spouse, every boo boo, every split-up fight, and every timeout that was doled out the entire day long.
Isn't it great serving a God we know has seen what our day looks like even before the sun rises and who prepares us for each and every task that He has for us?
Now, if only he'd zap down that housekeeper we would not only be GRAND, but maybe you could see my floors too :).
Thursday, February 10
Also, answers to a few questions about the child, family, and such...
Q: Is this Masha (9) from RR?
A: No, this is a little girl with Down syndrome named Masha, not listed on RR but with the Eli Project (click for info!)
Q: Does the family have a family sponsorship page?
A: YES! :) It's on the Eli Project website as the Dickinson family (click to link there!)
Q: Are YOU adopting Masha?
A: NO! :) The Dickinsons are friends of ours who adopted two beautiful children and came down to the national conference in Orlando this summer. We had the pleasure of meeting them and have decided to host this fundraiser because we believe in them and their ability to parent Masha! We also see the great need and want to 'pass it along' when we can to help other families to finance their adoption of special children just as others stepped up to help us bring our kids home!
Don't forget to SHARE the iPad post and donate while the matching money is available!
Wednesday, February 9
All dressed up with a special someone to go out with :)
All of these pictures were taken INSIDE the hotel! Yes, literally INSIDE… Under a roof, climate controlled… It was really pretty and we spent a long time just walking through the atrium.