A Happy Post

I thought today everyone might appreciate a bit more of a lighthearted post.  :)  So, I went through my phone and found one favorite picture of each kiddo from the last few months or so.  Fun, right?!  No.  Not fun.  Do you realize how hard it is to pick just one picture for each kiddo???  I guess it’s just motivation to post again in the near future.  Right?  Ok, so here goes…

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This is such a fun picture of Hope.  It captures her personality really well.  Her little tomato chair that she sits in, we usually set on the floor; that way she is at the same level as the other kids when they play on the floor.  She gets more interaction that way, can pick up her own toys, etc.  But the chair is getting too small for her!  (Sad day, must find a new one…)  So now if she’s wearing her shoes or braces we have to strap the seat portion of it into a real chair.

The first time we did this for her, she was a little bit nervous.  Kind of that jittery excitement you get when the operator comes and straps you into a roller coaster.  And she was telling us all about her thoughts.  She’s smiling, but she’s also talking in this picture!  She was making her very specific sound that lets us know if she’s sort of enjoying something and sort nervous about it.  So yes, I just love this picture.  Makes me smile.

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After taking this picture I started thinking maybe we need to sign Jacob up for a modeling career… I love how perfect he looks.  And the great thing is, he wasn’t posing at all.  He had no idea I was even taking a picture.  He’s just doing his thing, playing in the sandbox (which is one of his favorite outdoor activities) and practicing his newfound ability to stand without help.  I can’t help but love it, his thoughtful look, his thick flowy hair, the casual stance.  Just love it.  :)

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I almost hate taking photos of Evie right now because she looks so old in all of them!  She’s had a growth spurt recently and I don’t think my Mommy brain… or emotions… have caught up yet.  Of course I don’t actually hate taking her picture; I love her pictures.  She is growing into such a lovely young lady in every way.  In this picture she is holding some test strips that we just finished using for a science experiment.  I took an environmental science course this summer (It was my last gen ed course for my bachelor’s degree.  I only have a few elective credits left after that so I figured I’d better knock them out and get it done.  I’m so close…) and she did almost all of the experiments with me.  It was super fun, and we had a great time doing it together.  Nature, science, medicine, all things she has always loved.  So it was great to get to share that with her.  Her happy smile says it all.

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I picked this picture out of just sheer cuteness.  Between his hip new glasses (they were the only blue pair that Stephen liked in the whole store that Mommy and Daddy could both live with lol) and the fuzzy little guinea pig – there’s just so much cuteness!  I’m sorry, I mean handsomeness.  As my boys remind me all the time “We aren’t cute; girls are cute!  We’re handsome!”  Evie got guinea pigs for her baptism birthday this year; this is the younger one, Penelope.  Stephen also loves the guinea pigs and holds them quite a lot.  He needs a little more guidance… ahem.  But he’s getting there.  He has a genuinely soft heart, and I think this picture captures that sweetness quite well.  Make no mistake, he’s as rough and tumble as any boy, but there’s a soft, squishy, gentle side too.  <3

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Oh my darling not-the-baby-anymore Kyrie!  Jake hates it when I say that, but I told him he’s going to have to get used to it.  And by the looks of this picture, he really will!  Kyrie loves her girly things.  Shoes, jewelry, hair accessories, purses especially… all of it.  She got herself dressed up in this outfit (with heels later but they aren’t in this picture) and I couldn’t help but snap a shot of her.  We got her those toy glasses because she really really wanted a pair after Jacob and Stephen got theirs, and I figured this was safer than letting her try the other ones on!  I thought it would be one of those short lived toys that gets old after a week, but it’s been a few months now, and she still wears them quite a lot.  We all love Kiki to pieces.  She is spoiled by her older siblings, and not being the youngest will probably be a really good exercise for her. 😉  Speaking of which…

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Here is the first ever picture of Bambino!  Have you ever seen such a cute ultrasound?!  Lol… Ok I’m biased, but seriously.  So. Cute.  And it was just really good to see that adorable little baby and that adorable little heartbeat on the monitor.  We don’t typically do ultrasounds, but the midwife said it was too early to hear anything on a Doppler and I just needed a little extra assurance this time around.  It was a good decision.  All the kids were there too, so they all got to see Baby, and I feel much better knowing everything is going well so far.  Early February here we come!

Left Behind

Oh gosh… do you remember that series?  I cringe now, but they used to be one of my favorite books to read!  Such bad theology… and then the plot just went on forever and ever… and ever.  I mean really, how long can you stretch out the end of the world?  Ok, so this post isn’t really about the Left Behind books or end times theology.  But that’s what my title made me think of.

What I really wanted to talk about is the feeling of being left behind by people… people who are currently still present on the planet with you. 😉  I have been feeling this way a lot lately.  And while I know intellectually that it’s important not to compare my life to the lives of my friends and internet acquaintances, it’s so hard to do that in practice!  Sometimes my emotions just get the better of me.

image1 (5)How is it that I can have all these beautiful little children with me every minute of every day and feel like I am somehow lacking something or not doing enough?  That’s a great question, and my answer doesn’t justify my negativity, but perhaps it will help it make more sense.

When we were pregnant with Evie I started researching all kinds of things, and her little life really jump started my crunchiness in a big way.  I didn’t just want to parent the way everyone else did, not because I thought anyone was doing it wrong, but because I wanted to be super intentional about how we raised our children.  I wanted to know why I was doing what I was doing, and it’s been a great exercise, not just for parenting, but for my whole life.

One of the things I found while doing all this research was something called ecological breastfeeding.  I’ve talked about it before; we’ve done it with all our bio kiddos and I wouldn’t change a thing.  But something that has always made me a teency bit sad is the long spacing it provides between children.  For some families this is great, and it’s probably helpful for us too, but it’s been hard for me to accept at times.  I’ve always wanted lots of kids, and my other friends who have decided to be open to as many children as God gives them… well they typically were always pregnant before we were.  They have more children and they’re closer together, and I struggle not to envy that.  It’s ridiculous when I think about it.  As if having children was some kind of race and I was losing!  Wow.  Motherhood is so not about that.  It’s embarrassing to admit how childish I can be sometimes.

And then there’s the adoption, oh boy do I feel left in the dust on that one!  We have several friends that adopted around the same time (or after) we did and I know a few of them who are already going back for more!  I always dreamed we would be one of those families who did multiple adoptions, and started planning our next adoption as soon as our new kiddos were settled (which, of course, wouldn’t take any longer than six months).  But here we are, three years in, and still not planning any adoption any time soon.

Will we ever adopt again?  I hope so.  But I don’t have the answer to that.  Still.  After three years.  And that’s a hard pill to swallow.  It’s so good to see my friends and their strong families and their ability to bring home more sweet children that need families.  It brings me incredible joy.  But that little whisper of “Hey, if you had just done a better job of x, y or z you could be doing more too,” comes in and tries to steal that joy away.  I tell that voice exactly where it can return to… ahem.  But yeah, it hurts.

And then I went to one of my longtime favorite blogs yesterday.  I haven’t read an actual blog in several months (maybe longer?) but since I blogged again it reminded me, and sometimes I like to see how my favorite families are doing.   So I read this post from Adeye (who many of you know), and her family is just doing so amazingly well.  Her sweet lovies, as she calls them, are absolutely blossoming.  And yes, I know it’s the internet.  And yes, I know they have gone through the hard stuff.  And yes, I know I don’t know everything they are going through.  But when I see so much progress, I realize that our kids just haven’t gotten there yet.  We simply don’t have the earth shattering success stories at our house that many adopted families do.  And again… I start feeling left behind.

So what do we do with these feelings?  They are real and painful, and even the childish ones have a reason.  We can’t dismiss our feelings out of hand because we don’t like them.  They demand to be dealt with, and by not dealing with them we are just asking for them to come back.  Constantly comparing ourselves to others is not a helpful practice, obviously.  But it’s impossible to not notice differences sometimes, especially now that our life is so segmented.  We don’t spend our time walking the neighborhood and getting to know our closest neighbors who likely have very different lives than we do.  Instead we have social media and the internet where we can find groups and like-minded people to talk to and associate with.  In these groups and pages where we have so much in common with everyone else, it’s hard not to notice the differences!

So what do we do about it? Disconnecting can be a helpful start.  I’ve said it before, leaving Facebook was one of the best things I ever did for myself.  But when these issues do come up, we need to look at them in light of Christ and His love toward us.  We know that even though some things in our life are not good, that He works everything for good anyway.  (Romans 8:28)  This is a really beautiful perspective with which we can frame our lives.

When we start feeling like the world or our friends or like-minded acquaintances are leaving us in the dust, how can we process those feelings and allow God to work good in that situation?  Humility comes to mind for me.  If I didn’t have these struggles I might think much more highly of myself than I ought.  I might begin to forget how desperately I need my Savior, how I am nothing without Him.  Pride is a struggle for me; it’s good for me to see others doing better or more than I do.  I can be thankful for those reminders, knowing that my Heavenly Father allows them for the benefit of my soul.

These feelings are also helpful reminders to practice thankfulness.  How can I complain about what we don’t have if I’m truly thankful for the many, many things I do have?  If I was recognizing the vast blessings I have in my life, I would not be able to sit and sulk about my circumstances or covet those of others.  I can be thankful for the reminder to be thankful.

Something I have been learning over this last year is that it’s ok to struggle.  It’s good to struggle.  I often say that hard doesn’t mean bad, and I think this new idea of struggling as beneficial is related to that.  When we see our failings, shortcomings or humbling circumstances we can see the problem… Or we can see the opportunity, an opportunity to practice humility and gratitude, an opportunity to work on ourselves and struggle against those things we see that we don’t like.  It’s in the struggle that we grow and learn and lean in close to God.

So, in summary…

Bad things happen.

God loves to turn bad things into good things.

Let’s thank Him for the bad along with the good, trusting that in the end, we’re going to get to see Him transform it into something awesome.

Little Bambino

Before I start with the post I actually wrote for today, I just wanted to give a huge thank you to all of you for the outpouring of love and support after my last post.  Ya’ll brought me to tears (well you and the pregnancy hormones haha) and you have no idea how much I needed to hear every single one of those comments.  Just knowing how many people we still have praying for us after so long, and how many of you care, is motivation for me to keep pushing ahead and seeking Christ and His will in my life and in our family.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  You all bless me so much more than you know!

I told my husband.  I did.  I told him, “You can’t call the baby Bambino.  We don’t know if the baby is a boy or a girl, and Bambino is definitely a boy’s name.”  But sometimes I get overruled (ok a lot of times I get overruled.)  He says, “This baby is a boy, so it doesn’t matter anyway.”  He’s very confident in his prediction apparently.  He also offered that we could call the baby Bambi if we happen to have a girl, which sounded like a fine compromise at first, until I remembered that Bambi was actually a boy… and by the time we would get to see our baby girl the whole point would be moot because the pregnancy would be over anyway.  Then there was that pesky pregnancy article I was reading that referred to the baby as “your little bambino”.  I tried, but there was just no getting out of it… so Bambino is the name-o of darling baby number six.  (Until said baby is born and then we can pick a real name, thank goodness!)

I have been waiting to post this until we had our first prenatal visit, which was supposed to be on Monday, and then it got moved to yesterday and then it got moved to next week soooo I don’t really know when it’s going to be.  And in the spirit of not taking forever to post again I thought I’d just write this up now and then let you know how the visit went later, after it actually happens.

So on to the fun stuff.  I’m nine weeks pregnant now, we found out at a super early four weeks.  I didn’t even think I was pregnant when I took the test, but I had been so abnormally tired and Jake had mentioned that I take one.  I brushed him off, but ended up taking one on a whim the next day anyway.  And sure enough, there were two very solid lines staring right back at me.  I was totally stunned.  Excited, happy, but way not expecting it!

Morning sickness followed soon after that and has not let up at all since then.  It’s 24/7, and if I do get it to settle down as soon as I get up and move again the nausea comes right back.  The first few weeks were the hardest.  I called my doctor as soon as I knew, and I got in for a quick appointment.  Hashimoto’s can have fatal complications for the baby if not treated properly during pregnancy, so I was a bit anxious.  She didn’t want to do blood work until week six, and by that point I was having definite hypothyroid symptoms and thyroid flare ups.  My energy levels tanked; I was in pain; I was cold all the time, and just totally not functional.  I was so thankful when we did the blood work and she adjusted my dose; I quickly felt better after that.

I was really set on eating super well this pregnancy, but it hasn’t happened.  My food aversions/cravings have been all over the place; between that and the constant morning sickness (let’s just say my diet has been below average, even for a typical American).  My migraines have come back because I’ve been skipping so many meals, which makes the nausea even worse.  Can you say vicious cycle?

But I do feel like I’m slowly starting to turn a corner.  I can eat through the sick feeling now a bit better than I could a week or two ago.  Fruits and vegetables have become edible again and even meat sometimes.  So we’re getting there.  And I’m definitely committed to cleaning up my act on the eating as soon as possible for little Bambino.

I’m also hoping to avoid the bed rest and terrible issues I had at the end of my last pregnancy.  Me being out of commission is so hard on the family.  The kids are struggling with just my morning sickness impairments, bed rest would be (and was) unbearable.  Jake has been amazing, as always.  He has been cooking almost all the meals for the last month, because I haven’t been able to.  He works early and late so he can be more helpful during the day.  And, of course, he has to carry all of the children everywhere now and I can’t really help with that at all.  He’s done bedtime single handedly quite often.  And he’s even changes the poopy diapers because I usually can’t handle the smell!  He’s the absolute best husband ever.

So, in short, it’s been tough so far but we are muddling through as always.  God is very good.  Morning sickness is no fun for any of us, but we are thankful that baby is healthy and growing right now, and we are all beyond thrilled for a new little one in the house.  Even Kyrie seems happy when we talk about having a baby, although she does laugh at me when I tell her baby is in my tummy.  Oh well, one day she will believe me!  Oh and bonus adorable not-the-baby-anymore pic:

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Love you all, enjoy your weekend!

The Roller Coaster

I’m not sure exactly what it was that stopped my blog.  I was so determined not to be that adoptive mom that spent a year gushing about her babies and asking for money to bring them home, only to disappear into thin air once they arrived.  Not that I judged my fellow adoptive mamas who went through similar things.  Adoption is all-consuming – especially after the plane lands.  No one can possibly fathom what their new normal will be like, let alone if they will have time to take several hours out of their week keeping the world updated on their precious new additions.

I knew it was a struggle for a lot of people to keep up their adoption blogs, but I was different.  I blogged before the adoption.  I’ve been blogging since our first year of marriage.  Blogging wasn’t just an adoption necessity for me; it’s what I did!  So, naturally, I’d be able to keep up with it after we were home.  And maybe the real failure (as I see it) isn’t that I didn’t have time to blog.  Sure there have been periods of a few months where there literally was no time or no computer.  But it’s been three years now, and there have been plenty of times in between for blogging and updating.  So why not?  Why have I not continued?

There are so many reasons, between needing to not expend unnecessary emotional energy to just not being able to face my abandoned blog that I used to pour so much of myself into, to not knowing what to say in some of our really dark days.  But I think the reason that stands out the most to me (as I sit here not being able to remember how to even log into my blog admin account) is that our life is such a roller coaster and I didn’t know how to honestly take all of you on that roller coaster with me.

Some roller coasters were less serious, like “Hey, Hope is sleeping so well now!” To… “Oh nevermind, we aren’t getting sleep anymore.”  And some were more serious, like our constant progress and regression with Jacob’s attachment and behaviors or the myriad of diets and supplements I’ve tried in attempting to manage my Hashimoto’s.  There was a time where I have been able to fit on a single sheet of paper a list of every single food I could eat, because I had restricted my diet so severely in trying to feel perfectly well.  Other months I haven’t been attempting any basic vitamin protocols or healthy eating habits because I just can’t cope with any of it anymore.

How do I explain to my readers that yes I’m on the GAPS diet, no I’m not doing that anymore, well now I’m just going to do the Whole30 again, maybe I’ll add the AIP protocol too, and oh I found some more food sensitivities… well, no I’m not even trying anymore.  It’s frustrating enough to live that reality without actually having to broadcast it.  From some recent reading, I think I’m probably not alone in this up and down autoimmunity journey.  Healing hasn’t been straightforward or simple, and when I think I’ve found the magic formula for wellness I end up being disappointed, frustrated and exhausted from the work I’ve put into it.  And so I stop trying, but the next bad wave of sickness comes and the guilt seems to push me into trying something, anything, to fix it.

The same has been true with our children.  Things get better for a while, and then they get worse.  Homeschool goes, and then it doesn’t.  Nothing in my life is consistent or even has a noticeable upward progression.  I’m sure Jacob and Hope have made progress.  I’m sure they have.  But I can’t see it.  I am told by everyone how much potential they have, and I believe it, but there’s that nagging feeling that neither of them will ever reach that potential because I can’t seem to unlock it.  How do you explain that to people?  “Oh yes, the potential is there, but it won’t amount to anything.”  Most times honesty just isn’t an option, because people won’t understand or refuse to believe it if you told them.  And trust me, I’ve tried.

Everyone will tell you that special needs parenting is isolating.  Having a chronic illness is isolating.  Being a pastor’s wife is isolating.  If there’s one thing that I apparently can do really consistently, it’s isolate myself.  My online community used to be my foundation of support, but it was draining me more than it was helping and I had to let go.  I got rid of Facebook, and I’ve been much happier.  I stopped blogging because I couldn’t handle sharing the repeated success/failure/success/failure, up and down insanity that is our life.

When Jacob and Hope came home I stopped reading “normal” family blogs.  I could not relate to my friends anymore with typical children, their joys and struggles are just as real as mine, but they became so foreign to me.  I remember once feeling the way they describe, but I knew that I’d never live that life again.  And after a while even the adoption blogs and the special needs blogs stopped being encouraging.  Our struggles don’t seem to fit into anyone else’s box.  I try looking for help on the “moms with chronic illness” corner of the web, but they don’t understand all the other pieces of our puzzle either.

In real life it’s the same.  No one gets all of our puzzle pieces.  We are the only ones who can make our life work, and it’s hard to find anyone who can even help because they don’t know how the pieces fit together.  Our life is complicated and delicate and in a constant state of flux.

Speaking of which, we are expecting again.  Baby #6 is on the way, and as excited as I am about that, the fatigue and morning sickness, not to mention my other chronic illness symptoms are a new source of guilt and frustration.  I’m back to incapacitated most days, and it’s a hard pill to swallow.  I’m watching little successes, habits and routines I’ve spent months building just slip away again.  And there isn’t anything I can do to stop it.

I don’t want to just sit here and vent, because especially lately, I’ve been able to see just how much I have.  I’ve been doing a lot less taking for granted and a lot more of being thankful for what we can do as a family.  Maybe that’s why I was able to muster the courage to write this post.  We aren’t in the dark days of transition that we were in right after the kids came home or during Hope’s hospital stays.  Things are much better now.  I am way more functional than I was just prior to receiving my diagnosis.  We have five beautiful children and one on the way, and our marriage is rock solid.  We have all the things we need and many of the things we want.

Things are well.  But well just looks so different for us, and it is fluid.  I don’t know how to convey our family’s story in a way that doesn’t make people just shake their heads and wonder why we seem to be stuck on repeat.  Perhaps I’ll figure it out and come back to my long lost blog, and writing to you delightful people, which is something I really did used to love.

My Little Health Nut

I have finally found my crunchy buddy.  She is sweet. And adorable.  And little.  And she is a huge health nut!

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This is the kind of picture Mommy takes when you refuse to smile for me. One day you’ll figure it out. ;)

Kyrie is starting to eat solids pretty regularly now (yes just starting).  Before she would nibble a little here and there but she wasn’t consuming much of anything.  She ate more for curiosity than for hunger and more for fun than necessity.  My babies nurse a lot.  For a long time… for those of you who haven’t figured that out already 😉

In any case, she was very grumpy after missing lunch today until I found her some food.  Yay for new milestones! And now that she is eating at pretty much every meal, I am quite pleased with the choices she has begun making at the table.  And also a little shocked.  She loves cucumbers, apples, bananas, green beans, blueberries, broccoli, celery and just about any kind of meat.  She is also a huge fan of cheese and split pea soup.  This month has been a wee bit stressful, so I haven’t been encouraging her good habits at all… I have been more of an appeasing parent.  If the baby’s crying, offer a cookie.  Desperate times call for desperate measures, right?

Well, apparently not, because usually she will refuse the cookie.  Or she will accept it and just hold it for a while until something better comes along – a nice juicy carrot for example.  She isn’t much interested in bread or cereal, with the one exception of rice krispies, but the cocoa puffs were totally a no go…  And she will steal vegetables from any adult who is eating anything resembling a salad.

I’m a little confused, because despite my attempts at endearing my children toward healthy choices at this age, I have mostly failed in doing that until they were a bit older.  And yet here comes along Kyrie, for whom I had not tried at all, and she has just decided for herself that she would rather eat the veggies than most anything else.  Perhaps I have finally found a little health nut to join me on my crusade!

If nothing else she is motivation for me.  I want her to keep loving those foods, and it helps me stay on track with eating well knowing that if she sees me with those things, she’ll continue wanting them too.  Today is Day 6 for me of another Whole30 round.  I did the Whole30 three years ago and had great results.  And even though I have an autoimmune condition now and the dietary recommendations for autoimmunity are generally much stricter than a basic Whole30, I knew I needed to start somewhere.  And this month I certainly didn’t have the time to do anything stricter than this.

I’ve been a little surprised at how much it’s helping anyway, even though I haven’t taken out the typical autoimmune culprits (like nightshades, nuts or citrus) or my own food sensitivities like bananas, eggs and avocado.  I already can see the inflammation going down, my face is less puffy and my clothes are fitting better.  I have not had a migraine since I started, which is an awesome improvement, because I wasn’t going more than a day or two without one for the last few months.  I think that’s in part due to my increase in appetite, since my migraines were caused by not eating often enough.  But I have a much healthier appetite now, which is hugely helpful.

I have only had a couple headaches and dips in mood, but they didn’t last very long and were quite manageable.  So overall I’m feeling very optimistic and hopeful.  And I’m just praying that my lab work coming up confirms what I’m feeling! Tomorrow we start therapy again, woohoo!  And I will have some exciting (well exciting to me anyway haha) updates on both of the kiddos to share.

Iced In (Theoretically)

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All the kids’ therapy was cancelled today due to an ice storm hitting Missouri… although we haven’t seen any ice as of yet.  I know they were hit by the storm down south, but we woke up to sunny skies and the most threatening thing that’s happened are a bit of gloomy clouds.  I’m totally ok with it, however.  I’ve been so productive today!  Having a day off from therapy has been just what I needed to get my energy back apparently, and Jacob’s PT said she could add a couple days on to the end of the program, so we aren’t actually losing any of our really important therapies!

I feel like we have “started school again” about a million times this school year, but we are off of our Christmas break officially and starting slow with Bible memory work, reading and math.  The kids are responding really well to the added structure.  I’ve also got a load of laundry done today, did some paperwork and we have been doing our therapy homework with Jacob.  He took another step for me today!!! I was so excited.  Hopefully I can get one on video one of these days!

Hope has homework to do also, but she went back home with Daddy this weekend so I’m not in charge of that.  He went home early for fear of being iced in so far away from church.  So we miss him a lot, but hopefully without all of our distracting selves he is getting a lot done. :)

I am still feeling really positive about therapy.  I’m mostly excited about what we are doing with Jacob in physical therapy and I’m mostly excited about what Hope is doing in speech and occupational therapy.  Her therapists yesterday suggested some interesting approaches to therapy with her, and we are going to try those out next week (stay tuned!!).

For Jacob, they ordered quad canes (with four points) for him to try and also single canes to try.  His tripod canes are just so big and bulky at the bottom that it’s hard to walk without him running into the base.  And an added bonus is, if we move to a smaller base it will be another step in the direction of independent walking – which is what we are shooting for!  We get to use them in therapy for a few days and decide if we want them before we buy them, which is super helpful.

And now I have a really grumpy baby… toddler… I know, I know.  But I’ll still call her the baby anyway, and she’s grumpy, so I’m going to sign off for the day.  Stay warm and safe everyone!

 

Happy Birthday Solnyshka!

Somebody’s turning twelve today!!  Where does the time go?!

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Some things change and some things stay the same.  Her smile hasn’t changed one bit.

I hope your birthday is as bright as your smile sweet girl!

You are my Solnyshka,
My only Solnyshka.
You make me happy
When skies are grey!

You’ll never know dear,
How much I love you.
Please don’t take 
My Solnyshka away!

Love,
Mommy

A Restful End

Wow has it been a whirlwind of a week.  We drove up here early Tuesday morning for the first therapy evaluations, checked into the Ronald McDonald House, went back for more therapy evaluations, somehow fed the children in between, went back to the RMH for dinner and loaded Daddy, Jacob and Hope up in the van to spend the night with some local friends (since we only had room for four of us in our room) and had a bit of a fitful and restless night.

Woke up Wednesday morning, still trying to get our schedule down.  Quick breakfast, therapy was bright and early, we were behind all day long for some reason and that day wasn’t any easier or slower than the last.  Jake had to drive back home for work during the day, lots of craziness and optimism about how therapy would go.  Got to check into a bigger room so we could all stay together, moved everything out and over.  More business, a little better sleep.

The day before last we had another very full round of therapy sessions, lots of coming and going and trying not to be late.  Did I mention it was SO COLD this week?! Of all the weeks to have below freezing temperatures the Good and Gracious Lord decided that this was the best week to do that.  I love Him, but I just don’t understand Him sometimes… Getting five children and two wheelchairs in and out of a van multiple times a day when it is so cold is… a growing experience, let’s just call it that.  It’s an exercise in being thankful and learning to appreciate the good things.  Right?  Right.

Then Jake had to leave that night to go back home again, and we had a break from therapy yesterday morning, a bit of a breather, or so I thought.  Stephen woke up very sick and with some concerning symptoms.  My bestest friend in the world who is coming to stay with us and help out this month (YAY I AM SO EXCTIED!!!!) had her flight delayed by about seven hours and I was just telling myself that God was in control.  Somehow all crises were averted and all therapies took place and Jacob took his first ever independent step and we seven, tired and sick and stressed, piled back into the freezing van to come back to our “home away from home”.

And then a quick dinner and good-byes to Daddy again as he left to do the Epiphany service (a blessed Epiphany by the way!!) and then Candy Land and bedtime stories and cuddles and sleep.  And another long evening of being alone.  It felt like I should have been sitting at home with some sort of delicious celebratory dinner and giddily (is that a word?) talking with my hubby about how our son is going to walk and how proud I am of him and what amazing things this will open up for his life.

Concordia Seminary 2009

Concordia Seminary 2009

But the anticlimactic ending it is.  Restful, quiet, peaceful, but nothing exciting or fitting (it seems) for the miracles that are unfolding in front of our very eyes.  We have heard more than once, from more than one person, that if Jacob ever walked independently it would be a miracle.  And I agree.  Yet, I will have to probably wait until the end of the month to actually go home and soak in all the goodness that’s happening, to have that celebration with our family and the love of my life.

As for today, I woke up the usual way, by my adorable little alarm clocks that God gave me.  It’s still dark, the world isn’t as awake as my children are.  I’ll get them all dressed and fed and we will head out the door to go meet Daddy at home.  It’s the weekend, no therapy tomorrow, as Jacob says it’s a “rest day”.  I will get Evangeline and myself ready to go and say good-bye to a dear friend of ours.  A sweet lady who sat behind us in church for the last three years and was always ready to greet us with a smile.

We went and visited her in the hospital on Christmas, and she told me so many things I hadn’t known before.  We showed her how Jacob could stand up all by himself now, and she was so happy.  She said that she had been praying for him to walk since the day we brought him home.  She said such kind and lovely things about our family and blessed me more with her words than she could have possibly known.

Such a lovely woman of God, and it seems so anticlimactic to end the earthly life of such a sweet soul with a funeral and a burial… There is nothing exciting or breathtaking happening today, just a quiet, fleeting good-bye.  Yet, even now we see, dimly and through a dark glass, but we see.  This isn’t really the end, not yet.  The celebration is yet to come.  The Resurrection is nearer now than it has ever been, and that will be anything but anticlimactic.  Her life is not over, it is safe and hidden with Christ, and though we are not celebrating today, we will be soon.

Today we give thanks for a restful end, and we await the glorious culmination of the promises to come.  One day soon we will have that greatest of all celebratory meals, with all our family, and with our One True Love.  We will be home, and all will be as it should once again.  For now, we rest and we wait.  We wait even more anxiously than before for the coming of Christ.

May your weekend be restful and quiet and filled with the love and mercy of our Lord.

Therapy Therapy Therapy

Today I promised you I would talk more about the therapy program we are doing.  It’s pretty cool actually.  I have known about it for a long time, but we were just now able to get accepted into the program; we wanted to have Jacob and Hope do it at the same time (for which, the reason should become quite obvious as you read on), which meant they needed two open spots, which is even harder to get.

Fortunately for us they had just hired a new physical therapist and she had a totally open schedule, so they booked us right in!  The therapy program they have here is amazing.  They have great equipment and very experienced pediatric therapists who are used to the complexity of Jacob and Hope’s needs.  But because it’s a bit of a drive from us, it’s not been at all reasonable for us to do our weekly therapy here.  At the same time, the therapy close to us is not adequate in any way for the kinds of things our kiddos need.

The intensive program has been a godsend for us.  Jacob gets 2-3 hours of physical therapy every day and Hope gets one hour a day (she can’t tolerate quite as much).  Not only does this allow us to fit a lot of therapy into a shorter time frame but it also helps build new habits, because we are working on them daily.  Whereas before, in order for Jacob to progress I had to be working with him at home constantly.  That was not a good situation for our relationship or for the family in general.

In addition to physical therapy they are both also receiving speech therapy and occupational therapy while we are here.  So that totals to 2-3 hours of therapy for Hope each day and 3-5 hours of therapy for Jacob each day.  It has been so amazing.  This is only our third day and already Jacob has almost taken his first independent step, he jumped for the first time ever, he learned how to do buttons and we are tweaking all of his equipment and supports so he’s walking much better too.

Hope was tall kneeling earlier today, which was SO cool!  She also used an communication device to ask for more bubbles (she presses a button, the ipad says “more”).  She used it at least twice on purpose!  They are so happy with how visually attentive she is and are optimistic about her ability to learn to communicate her needs.  We really couldn’t be more thrilled with that.

While we are doing this marathon of a program we are staying at the Ronald McDonald House (which is just so amazing).  I had no idea how much their organization does for families!  We are being so well taken care of here, and I would definitely recommend to everyone to go donate or volunteer at their local Ronald McDonald House Charity.  They found us a room that actually accommodates our whole family.

My dear husband is staying with us, because it’s just impossible for me to juggle all five kids and the therapy schedule without him here.  He goes home some nights and days because there’s obviously work he can’t do here, but when he is here he stays up late getting his “office stuff” done and he wakes up around 4am to work some more.  I have no idea how he does it.  He is my hero for sure.  And I miss him because he went home last night for more work and he won’t be back until this afternoon.  Not that I can possibly complain with everything there is to be thankful for!

Volunteers come in and cook one hot meal every evening and sometimes brunches too on the weekends.  They also stock their pantry with cereal, oatmeal, bread, peanut butter, popcorn, snacks, drinks, etc.  And they have a fridge and freezer full of leftovers, so we can eat all three meals a day here.  They also have a full kitchen we are welcome to use and cook in whenever we need to, and our own little pantry and a fridge we can use.

They have two family rooms with TV’s, toys and games and they have a library room too!  They have a little playground outside, and a play area in the dining room as well.  The hospital has a shuttle we can use to get from therapy to the house and back when I don’t have a vehicle, which has saved us a couple of times, although it only fits one wheelchair so we do have to work around that.  The staff have all been so wonderful and I have no idea how we would be able to manage this month without the help of the RMH.  We are just so blessed to be here and so thankful that God has provided everything that we need.

The therapists have mentioned that, especially for Jacob, it seems like we came at exactly the right time in his development, just as he’s learning to stand independently.  And for Hope, she has just hit her emotional stride to be able to handle an intense therapy program like this.  The timing couldn’t be better for either of them, and our Lord had it all planned out so much more perfectly than I could have.

I won’t bore you with more updates today (my husband seems to think that my posts are too long, but I tell him that about his sermons so I guess we’re even… just kidding, love you sweetie!!) BUT I do have some pictures!!  Enjoy!  And if I can I will write a little more tomorrow. :)

 

Ball Pit

Kyrie joining Jacob in the ball pit during occupational therapy.

 

The kids checking out one of the family rooms at the RMH. Can you find all five? :P

The kids checking out one of the family rooms at the RMH. Can you find all five? :P

 

Jacob at physical therapy in the "cage" learning to jump for the first time!

Jacob at physical therapy in the “cage” learning to jump for the first time!

 

Practicing buttons at Occupational Therapy. It only took him a minute to do all three!

Practicing buttons at occupational therapy. It only took him a minute to do all three!

 

Hope tall kneeling at a table for physical therapy!! I can not believe how far she has come. <3

Hope tall kneeling at a table for physical therapy!! I can not believe how far she has come. <3

Love to all!!

EDIT:  I have no idea why all my pictures are turned the wrong way.  I fix them on my dashboard and they are correct in my editing box but then when I publish they’re all backwards again.  So… if anyone knows what my problem is let me know cause I have no clue. Haha

2nd EDIT:  FIXED!! Now they’re all backwards in my editing box and the right way on the post.  I feel like I’m going crazy, lol!

Peace and Joy

It’s been a long time.

If I do have any readers left, it’s probably only those of you who have subscribed and get a random email of my return.  It’s hard to come back after such a long time and post here, but my husband encouraged me to write, thinking there would be people who’d love to hear from us, so here I am.

As most of you know by now, I quit Facebook a while back, I don’t miss it at all, but when I reactivated my account to look for an old video the other week and saw all the things so many of my friends and acquaintances are going through, my heart just sank.  I’ve really been quite secluded from the rest of the world (living under a rock I think is what they call it).  And although I am able to be more present and focused for my little family, it is not without its sacrifices, and I do miss my friends and the adoption community.

So much has happened over the last year, and yet I don’t feel like much progress has been made until just recently.  It’s difficult to write when you have no good news to share, and although there has been ups and downs, the downs seem to swamp the ups and I am often left feeling like we are going ever backward and never forward.  I want to share our journey because I do think we have been incredibly blessed and I want to share our children with the world because they have changed people’s lives and that’s an amazing gift!

On the other hand, I promised that I would not sugar coat things and I’d be honest here.  And sometimes when hard becomes unbearable, there are just seasons that I would rather not share with the rest of the world.  Perhaps that’s selfish of me.  But there are many moments I’m not sure how to survive without being a little selfish.  So I do hope that the world and my dear readers and my cherished friends and loved ones will all forgive my lack of contact.  Whether it’s here or on social media or by email or phone, I have not really kept up my end of the relationship and for that I am sorry.  Especially since you all have been so faithful and kind to our family through everything.

And with that said, I’ll move on to what most of you really want to know.  How are we doing??

We are doing alright.  The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel seems to peek through much more often these days than it ever used to, and for that I am thankful.  I am still very much dealing with my Hashimoto’s diagnosis.  We don’t have it under control, and sometimes it seems that we get things stabilized and then we go downhill again.  Being crunchy I have done my due diligence with autoimmune protocols and elimination diets, but I cannot seem to get to that place where I am actually healthy.

The last two months have been very difficult.  I have gained quite a lot of weight, none of my clothes really fit anymore.  I’m dealing with intense episodes of depression and I’m having migraines that are far too frequent for it to be ok.  And those are just the tip of the ice burg when it comes to symptoms.  At this point I’m ok with not feeling well, I’m ok with being chronically ill.  I just want to be well enough to take care of my family, and after that I’m at peace with whatever comes.  Not yet at peace with my weight, but maybe in time I’ll learn to be more gentle with myself.

I would like to say that the kids are all doing marvelously, the end.  But we all know better than that.  The children are all doing very well, but there are some difficulties there too.  Hope finally seems to have settled after her last episode of medical trauma last year.  She had casts taken off her legs after surgery and it must have triggered some sort of flashback from years past, she literally sat up from the bed (which she had never done) and began punching the poor tech (also she had never done).  For weeks afterward she was a complete emotional wreck.  I couldn’t touch her for three days without her sobbing.  She would start having flash backs again and was totally terrified of any touch or movement.  It was totally heart wrenching.

But last month when we went in to clinic (a long day of specialists) she didn’t cry once!  We were all shocked that through all the prodding and moving and activity that she was remaining so calm.  Doctor’s offices had always been a trigger for her.  At first I thought it was a fluke, but it has held up and she is doing therapy once or twice a day with no tears!  I feel like she is finally starting to blossom.  We have the surgeries (hopefully) all behind us, and she is finally just had time to settle in without any new trauma.  I see so much potential in her and so much life coming back to her sweet self.  I’m absolutely thrilled for her and can’t wait to see how she continues to grow.

(Speaking of therapy, we are currently living at the Ronald McDonald House near the Children’s Hosptial.  Jacob and Hope are in an intensive therapy program, daily therapy for a month!  It’s an amazing program and we are super excited for it.  I’ll write more about that tomorrow if I can.)

Jacob has also made some great strides.  Some things (like academics) seem to be at a total standstill for him. But he is having some breakthroughs.  He just got a new orthotist who fitted him for braces, and she did such an amazing job that he can now stand independently!!  His record so far is nine and a half minutes without falling.  I cried in her office when he stood up for the first time without help; I had been making peace with the idea of it never happening and now we are working on taking independent steps and working toward walking without canes!  He has a long way to go, but we are finally in a good place to start working on some of his goals and figuring out how to best support him so that he can have the best life possible.

Evangeline is doing wonderfully in school, she taught herself how to read.  We’ve been doing little mini lessons on phonics for years, but not curriculum or anything structured.  And she finally put the puzzle pieces together and is reading on her own!  She also loves ballet and does quite well in it.  Her favorite thing to study is science.  She is fascinated with space, animals, earth science and meteorology and the human body – all of it!  And she is quite the artist too.  I’m excited to see where her gifts take her.

Stephen is still our sports guy.  He does gymnastics and t-ball and loves both.  He does some school too, but not too much at this age.  We do a little bit of math, Bible, memory work and reading.  He wants to be a doctor, baseball player, construction worker and a soldier when he grows up, so I’m not sure if he will end up pursuing all of those or narrow the list a bit. I guess we will see. 😉

We still call Kyrie the baby, but she really isn’t anymore.  The therapist called her a toddler today and it made me just a little sad.  I know she’s a toddler, but she’s still just a baby to me.  She loves all her older siblings and wants to do everything any of them do.  She is even developing their attitude so we are nipping that right away.  My biggest concern for Kyrie is her teeth.  They are quite bad and we haven’t seen a dentist who will really give us a direct answer to it yet.  Considering I was seriously hypothyroid with her pregnancy and didn’t know it, it’s not surprising that her teeth did not form correctly, but it is a frustrating problem and I wish I could just make it better.

There are lots of things to come to peace with.  And there are also many things to take joy in.

Peace and joy, those are my prayers for this year.

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