38 Notes for 38 Weeks

1. I know it’s been a while but… You’d be surprised how hard it is to find time to blog on bed rest!  And yes, I’ve been off of bed rest for two weeks now, and it’s been even harder to find time to do anything on the computer.  Maybe it will be easier when the baby comes?  A girl can dream…

2. I never thought I’d see a #2 on that side of the scale (if ya know what I mean) but I am rocking the extra poundage, or so my husband says.  He’s not biased… right?

3. Baby bump picture?  Umm… dream on because of the previous note.  Maybe if I can get this swelling to go down you’ll get one before baby comes… ahem.

4. So… Boy or Girl? We don’t get routine ultrasounds so we still don’t know if Mambo is a boy or a girl. But I do tend to get a “feeling” one way or the other, and I’ve been right the last two times. I will probably jinx myself by making a prediction, but I’ll do it anyway. I think the little one is a girl! Of course, we’ll be excited either way, and we have baby clothes for both! :)

5. Jake had a dream… night before last that we are having a girl.  So double confirmation, right?!  He said she was beautiful and favored Stephen more than Evie in her features.  Which is also what I’ve sort of been thinking.  The suspense is killing me!

6. My husband is amazing. It’s a strange feeling to be constantly asked about and worried over. I feel fine. Lots of contractions that are annoying, and Baby is doing great… But Jake, this man is a rock star.  I seriously don’t know how he does everything.  I’m not on bed rest, but I’m still not at 100%.  I still sit around most of the day, because too much walking causes muscle fatigue and pain.  My body is just tired from being in and out of labor for a month… so he’s still doing so much.

7. So when did you go off of bed rest?  Two weeks ago exactly.  I was 36 weeks and we all thought the baby would be here ANY DAY.  No such luck.  I had intense contractions the first two days, and then they died down.  For about a week after that I would wake up with nothing, they would start as I did more throughout the day and be 2-5 minutes apart, and regular, by bedtime.  I would go to sleep and they’d stop… and we’d do it all over again.  It has become a frustrating version of Groundhog’s Day.

8. Where are you at now?  Same place.  No real change.  My contractions are less frequent some days and more on others.  The only constant is that they keep getting stronger, so I know we’re getting closer.  I just have no idea how close!

9. I had my midwife appointment the other day.  I learned several interesting things…

10. The best news is that Baby is doing great!  The heartbeat sounded good, position is good, I’m measuring right on target.  All awesome things.

11. The worst news is… my midwife is going out of town next week.  She never told me because she didn’t dream in a million years I would still be pregnant… And guess who her only pregnant lady left is for several weeks?  Yup.  That would be me.  It’s not the end of the world, but certainly not the greatest thing either.

12. We were thinking of trying to kick start labor last weekend.  However, when she came to check me we were shocked – absolutely shocked – to find that I was only 2cm dilated and not effaced one bit.  On bed rest I was 90% effaced… now?  Nothing.  I am actually nowhere near labor.  The baby is sitting on my pelvic bone, meaning that all those contractions?  They’re just trying to move the baby, and they are doing pretty much nada. So.  Frustrating.

13. I missed wishing my sweet oldest daughter a Happy Birthday on here!  It was so simple and lovely.  We did it my first day off of bed rest.  So since I missed it, I’ll spend a few notes gushing about her lovely self and all our birthday fun…

14. A Golden Birthday.  I was so excited to have her home for her Golden Birthday.  My midwife came over a couple days earlier and I was in tears because she didn’t want me going off of bed rest yet and we weren’t going to be able to do anything for it.

15. Side Note… a lot of people told me that week beforehand that she would “just be happy” cuddling with Mommy for her birthday or that she wouldn’t know it was her birthday that day and we could just do it another day, etc.  But, like many adoptive mamas I know, I had dreamed of giving her a beautiful birthday for the first time in her life.  No one had ever done that for her before.  The day was more than just a day, it was a milestone in her life and in ours.  The thought of missing it was heart wrenching in a way that is possibly very difficult to understand unless you’ve been there.

16. ANYWAY… My midwife told me I could go off of bed rest.  Hooray!  And my contractions stopped (go figure).  Two days later, I was up and getting a party ready!

17. Her first present was a new hairdo!  She got her first ever ponytails, which she hated putting in, but actually liked in the end.  I think she enjoys the consistent tugging of the hair.  It gives her sensory input.  She always loves it when I play with her hair :)  And she looked adorable!

18. I also got her this beautiful birthday dress…

Hope's Birthday

19. A dear friend of ours offered to make cupcakes for her.  She made the cake and gorgeous flowers and butterflies to put on top.  I made a special frosting that would be a consistency and a sweetness that Hope would like.  (She doesn’t appreciate really sweet things. And hasn’t approved of frosting before.)  So this was more of a sweet, whipped yogurt – but still delicious!

20. Presents!  Hope got some sweet presents.  Her godmother gave her a cute little bear with fun zippers and buttons and things to play with, and she got oodles of new clothes!  She wasn’t really interested in the clothes, but she did enjoy throwing all that tissue paper on the floor.

21. Happy Birthday to You!  We lit her candles and sang to her.  All the other littles were lined up beside her and she just seemed to be loving it.  Even the small party we had would have been way too much just a couple of months ago.  But now it was almost as if she knew that we were singing to her and she was soaking it all in.  It was such a beautiful moment!

22. Progress Updates.  Well I don’t have many of those.  I actually don’t have any of those.  Since I went on bed rest no therapy or stretching has been done for either Hope or Jacob.  And they had been doing so well!  I am frustrated that those things have taken a back seat and I’m dreading how much progress we’ll have lost by the time I can get them back to their routine.  But trying to not worry about it because I can not control it, and there simply isn’t a point in fretting.

23. Dealing with Regression.  Which brings me to my next note about regression.  All four kiddos have regressed since bed rest.  Their behaviors, their attachment, their felt security… everything is back sliding.  It’s so hard to watch.  It was hard to listen to Stephen cry for half an hour while his poor Daddy tried to put him to sleep, and all he wanted was me.  Evie and Jacob and Hope weren’t getting attention from me at night, and that had always been our most consistent and essential bonding time each day.

24. Is it better now?  Being off of bed rest has helped some, but we’re still far from reclaiming what we had.  There is a lot of leftover anxiety and insecurity manifesting, and we are still in survival mode, which makes it difficult to concentrate on refilling the little one’s cups with felt safety and all the attention and love they need.

25. As for bedtime… I pray that we’ll be able to go back to some sort of normalcy in routine after baby is here, but I remember how horribly difficult those first few weeks were after Stephen was born.  Whatever happens, we’ll muddle through it and eventually get to a place where things go back to a sense of normal and routine.  I. Can. Not. Wait.

26. Things are getting easier.  We really aren’t drowning in chaos anymore.  There are just several things that can’t get back to normal until after the baby arrives, and our little Jacob thrives so much on routine that he has been very out of sorts.  We are all weary at the end of this journey, and just can’t wait to have our newest little member join us on the outside so we can move forward with the rest of our year!

27. Speaking of which… Happy New Years!  I know I sort of missed the big event, but I still thought it might be nice to take a moment and look back on 2014 while looking forward to 2015.

13. 2014 was the hardest year of my life.  I know, I’m still pretty young, so this isn’t like headline news or anything… but for us it was such a stretching, trying, challenging time.  It has not just been adoption and special needs parenting, although those things are certainly near the top on my list of hardest things I’ve ever done.  But it seems that we just haven’t been able to catch a break, emotionally, spiritually, practically or otherwise.  It was rough.

14. 2015 will be better.  I’m sure of it.  We may not have seen much of any good fruit from our labor last year, but so many seeds were planted.  This year my prayer is that those good seeds will take root and bear fruit, that our family will see the joys and blessings of our sacrifice.  I pray that our children especially will benefit, all five of them, and that Jake and I will grow closer to the Lord and to one another as we wade through the deep waters of these fleeting days.

15. Did I mention that Jake is awesome?  Because he is.  I just thought I’d mention it again.  Seriously.  There’s no one else I’d rather be raising five rambunctious, out-of-control, adorable little monsters with.

16. Speaking of monsters… I’ll do a little note for each one of the kiddos.  And I say monsters as a term of the utmost endearment.  We have great children, they’re just… ya know… in need of some direction for their copious amounts of energy 😉

17. Hope.  Starting with the oldest, Hope is the same sweet little girl she’s always been.  Very, very slowly she is opening up more to eye contact and interaction and becoming less averse to learning new things.  She can go to church and do a few short trips in public without screaming from the overstimulation and anxiety.  She is needing less isolation and more loving, and it’s a fun (albiet slow) transformation to watch.

18. Jacob.  His language skills are getting better.  He actually tries to speak full sentences with me now that have more than one point.  His personality is coming out more than ever, and I can’t wait till he reaches that threshold.  He was such a jokester whenever he would talk to translators in Russian.  I’m excited for that personality to come out again.

19. Evangeline. Her reading skills are starting to stick, and she’s still interested.  I think once she gets the basics of phonics that she’ll just teach herself the rest.  She is so smart and so motivated as far as books are concerned.  We got her a xylophone for Christmas, though, and reading music is going to take a little more work I think – lol!  In other news she is continuing to grow into her big sister role, she’s always been such a nurturing little girl.  It’s absolutely true that God gives us exactly the children our family needs at exactly His perfect time.

20. Stephen.  If I had one word to describe this two year old tornado it would be “RAWR!!” It is his favorite word and also embodies everything he loves… dinosaurs and monsters.  Oh and baseball.  He’s all boy and he’s really good at it.  Channeling his constant energy is a daily challenge in energy and patience.  But he has a lot of gifts and a lot of love to give.  He brings an amazing amount of joy and laughter, and Heaven knows we need those!

21. Mambo.  And this little one is just ornery!  Moving constantly… all over the place.  Baby was head down and pretty comfy until the contractions started.  Now?  Just constant kicking and pushing and spinning all over the place.  You’d better spin back to your proper position before I go into labor kiddo!  No breech babies allowed.  Good grief.

22. Confession… so about my last note… I actually wrote that three and a half weeks ago.  Lol!  Yes… I started drafting this at 35 weeks and am just now finishing up.  That is what my life has been like lately.

23. So what is Mambo really doing?  Little one has slowed down a lot, very little movement compared to what I was having on bed rest.  Heart beat and measurements look great, I just think there’s much less room in there than at the beginning of the month!  My midwife says this is a good sized baby, not huge, but certainly healthy, which makes me happier than could be after all that drama!

24. Which brings us to our next point…. about the drama.

25. I.

26. Do.

27. Not.

28. Want.

29. To.

30. Be.

31. Pregnant.

32. Anymore.

33. Seriously.  I mean… does more than that really need to be said?  At this point we are nowhere near labor and my due date is approaching quickly.  It’s exciting and frustrating all at once!

34. Hopefully on Friday… my midwife will be back in town and we will start attempting to get the baby engaged properly.  I’m hoping that once that happens labor will be able to begin promptly.  I can get contractions going, no problem, it’s just that at this point they are all trying to position the baby (ornery again) and not doing anything constructive.  Once we get the baby in its proper place we should be able to get the ball rolling.

35. Happy birthday Uncle Brandon?  My brother’s birthday is January 31st so we are shooting for that!  Wish us luck! 😛

36. The kids are all sleeping.  Jake and Grandma are at Bible study… the house is quiet and peaceful.  Score one for me.

37.  I’m going to take advantage of the peace and quiet because… *drum roll* I have nothing left to write about for today!

38. And that is how you make it to the end of a 38 point post when you don’t actually have that many points to make 😉

 

P.S. – This is the first comment I got after publishing my post: “It might have been a bit easier to get to #38 if you hadn’t jumped back to 13 from 27…”
Yes.  Yes indeed.  Thank you pregnancy brain.  Maybe that makes up for the month of posting that I missed?   Sigh…

34 Weeks… and Counting

I made it to 34 weeks yesterday, praise God!  What a crazy week it has been, I can’t even express the insane amount of things we have needed to get done, and with half the hands to do it all.  My husband is the most amazing husband of all the husbands.  I guess when he said “in sickness and in health” he really meant it!  He is absolutely my hero.

So here’s where we’re at right now, a week ago I started having regular, working contractions.  Despite my attempts at “resting” (aka only getting one child ready for Church instead of four) they continued to get longer, stronger and closer together.  A visit to the midwife and some medication were able to knock them out, but they aren’t gone by any means.

I have had contractions every day since then, they are triggered by movement and standing, or if I sit up for too long.  If I starting having them and don’t take steps to stop them (lay down, take an Epsom salt bath, etc.) they will gain momentum and we’ll be right back to where we started.  The more times I go too far, the easier and faster they seem to be triggered.  I could do more without triggering them at the beginning of the week than I can now.

I had to take some more medication on Christmas because I went to the service the night before and did just a bit too much walking between rooms on Christmas day.  So by the time evening rolled around, they had gotten themselves into a comfortable 3 minutes apart again.  (They’re always worse in the evening after being awake the whole day, and sometimes non-existent in the mornings after laying down for several hours straight.) Needless to say, I pretty much spent the rest of the next day in bed.

It doesn’t look like the contractions are going away any time soon, so the plan is to make it to 36 weeks at least.  I’m hoping I can go off of bed rest that day because it also happens to be January 10th.  It’s Hope’s very first birthday home with us and I’d love to be up and bustling around to help celebrate!! I have plans!  There will be more Christmases but this is her only 10th birthday, her golden birthday, her first birthday home!  I really, really want to be up and about.

So… here I sit resting and resting and resting and hoping that in two weeks I will be ready to do some moving and that this baby won’t come out for three weeks.  (If I make it to 37 weeks I get to use my new birth tub!!)  Thank you all so much for everything!  What a crazy year it has been.  Maybe we’ll get all the craziness out in January and we can just work on settling in as a new family of seven for the next eleven months.  I think I’ve had plenty of excitement for a year or two.

Merry Christmas, and if you don’t hear from me before then, a Happy New Year as well!

The Birth Story: Prologue

I am accustomed to writing my birth stories after the birth of the baby, but this little one has thrown us for a bit of a loop!  Labor started unexpectedly Saturday evening at exactly 33 weeks along.  I didn’t realize it at first, of course.  I had been having contractions for about two months at that point – a few here and a few there.  Nothing to be concerned about.  I was using them to gauge whether or not I was doing too much with the other kids.  “Contraction?  Ok, I guess I’ll sit down for a while.”

Then my contractions went away completely last week as I upped my protein and tried really hard to take things slow.  I thought we were doing pretty good!  But about 4:00 pm on Saturday night, back they came.  I started to notice them while eating dinner with the kids and waiting for Jake to come home.  I had no reason to be alarmed at that point because everything seemed normal… although I wondered why I was having contractions on the one day where I was lazier than any other day?  (I mean dinner was frozen pizza for Heaven’s sakes!)

After about an hour and a half it became clear that sitting down and resting was not making them go away, and I could tell that they were coming in regular intervals.  On top of that, every time I stood up it triggered another contraction.  I sat down to time them.  Four minutes apart.  That’s odd… I knew that pre-labor contractions would probably not be so regular.  After the kids were all settled in bed I chugged a big glass of water to see if that would stave them off.

No go.  On they kept, and they started feeling stronger.  Time to call the midwife!  She told me to eat some protein, to take four doses of my Calcium Magnesium and to get in an Epsom salt bath and then see if that would knock them out.  Getting in the bath was reassuring, they stopped immediately… only to disappoint me by kicking right back up once I got out.  I called again and convinced her that I thought I could make them go away by laying down, so she told me to sleep and if they kept me awake to call again.

The contractions dissipated in bed and I did go into a fitful bit of sleep, but it was more my own worry keeping me awake at that point.  I also caught some sort of a bug (maybe that’s what triggered the whole episode?) so I felt miserable on top of it all.  The next morning I woke up with no contractions, but they started as soon as I stood up.  I grabbed a notepad and wrote down every single one, and what I was doing when they happened.  Four minutes apart, unless I was doing something, and then they were two minutes apart.

I got the kids breakfast, dressed Evie for church and sat on the couch as much as possible, but to no avail.  They were just getting stronger and closer together.  I called my midwife and she told me I had to come over ASAP.  Grandma and Jake were both at Church and I had three other little ones with me, so I called Jake’s mom and thankfully she was in a position to come over right away.  By the time I was dressed she was there, and I headed out the door.

So glad my midwife only lives about five minutes from us!  She hooked me up to a fetal monitor, which was a totally new experience, but kind of cool.  I had no sign of infection, great blood pressure, awesome heartbeat and movement from Mambo and my contractions were barely visible on the monitor.  She said she was really pleased with everything she was seeing until… she checked me.  I was 1.5 cm dilated and was already presenting very soft and thinned out.  Those contractions weren’t much… but they were working.

At that point she gave me a shot of medication, which stopped them in their tracks.  Jake had just finished up service and his mom told him in the handshake line what was going on.  Poor guy, he tried to call but we had terrible reception, so he just drove over.  I assured him I was alright and that we had gotten the contractions under control, but that I felt pretty shaky and funny from the meds.  He drove back to the church, asked someone to drop him off, and then drove me home.  Sweet guy :)

I was not ordered to go on full bed rest.  “Queen of the Couch” is what my midwife called it.  I could sit, go up and down the stairs to go to bed, etc. but I just needed to be delegating from the couch and doing nothing else.  So for the rest of the day that’s what we did.  I had to take some more medication orally in the evening from contractions starting up again, but everything seemed to be going well.

The next day I woke up still feeling miserable from whatever I had caught, I couldn’t eat much all day.  Late morning my contractions started regularly at ten minutes apart.  I called the midwife, she said we could deal with ten minutes – as long as they stayed there.  They didn’t.  Almost as soon as I hung up they went to 7 minutes… 5 minutes… 4… 3… 2… each contraction was closer than the last.  And stronger.  By the time I got her on the phone they were a minute long with only about 30 seconds between them – and these were actually uncomfortable.  Not the cute, warm and fuzzy “Oh my tummy feels like it’s giving me a hug!” sort of contractions.

Amazingly she was driving by our house right that minute and pulled in to see me.  Not exactly what I thought our first home visit would be like, but ok!  I took another dose of medication and was instructed to lay down.  Sitting was only for short periods, but mostly I needed to get that pressure off, because every little bit was causing more contractions.  Bed rest, still not strict bed rest… but bed rest.

We fought off contractions for most of the rest of the day.  This was the first time I was really worried we weren’t going to be able to stop the labor for longer than a couple days.  It came on so quickly for no reason.  Every little change of position would trigger another contraction.    I was also still feeling miserable, I couldn’t eat even though I really needed to.  When I finally did go up to bed, just that two minutes of being on my feet triggered very strong contractions that I was having trouble getting dressed through.

My midwife thinks that we will be able to hold off labor for a few more weeks if I can behave myself and stay put.  She doesn’t think they’ll go away completely, but that hopefully we can make them a little less touchy so I can have a bit more freedom than I have now.  She really wants to get me to 37 weeks (January 17th) but will allow me to give birth at home as long as we make it to 36 weeks (January 10th).  Today I woke up feeling completely healthy (hope it stays that way!), my appetite is back and we haven’t seen any unwarranted contractions.  No medication yet, praise God!

I still have them every time I sit or stand, but for the most part they’ve been easy to ward off.  I am so grateful.  We have a fridge full of delicious homemade meals and already and we’ve had so much support.  I think we are covered as far as help goes for this week of Christmas, but if and when that changes we will certainly let everyone know what we are in need of.  Thank you all so much for your prayers so far!!  I am a little sore from lying on the couch, but other than that we are doing well, are in good spirits and hanging in there!  Hopefully the rest of this birth story won’t need to be written for another month or so!

Just Hold On!

I know you all have been waiting for something, anything for a while now.  And I promise I’m getting there.  There have been some BIG changes in our household over the last week or so and once I have my life reorganized I think I’ll actually have time for this little blog again.  I’m really excited to share all the wonderful ways God is providing for our family.  So just hold tight!  I have a post coming soon!!  In the mean time, have a very blessed start to your Advent season as we prepare for the celebration of our Lord’s birth!

Happy Seven Years

To the strongest, most handsome, gentlest, most amazing little boy I have ever met…

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Dear son, you have been through more in your seven years than many of us endure in a lifetime.  May the next seven be blissfully restful, healing and kind to you.  May you find all the love that you had lost and make as many fun and happy memories as most of us do in a lifetime.

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We missed so many years, so many candles and so many wishes… but now we have the time together to make up for them all.

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Your Daddy and I love you to the moon and back, to infinity and beyond.  It was an honor and a great joy to celebrate you today, my oldest son.

Love Always,
Mommy

A Sunny Day

It sure is beautiful out here today. I wish we had played outside this morning, but I decided not to chastise a particular child last night when he came upstairs to find toys… one thing led to another… and now the three of them have decided that playing in their bedrooms is the most fun thing they have ever done. They will play up here for hours without fighting or destroying things. It’s a miracle. And I know the Autumn weather will probably last longer than their honeymoon with the newfound play space so… I’m milking it for all it’s worth.

At the moment, however, those three are down for quiet time and I am having a standoff with the eldest over eye poking. She is beginning to do it more now than she used to, which is unfortunate. I tried digging my finger into my eye socket the way she does and it is just so painful, but at the moment there is nothing else in the world she wants to do.

I considered getting on the floor to play with her or sing to her or just hold her to maybe get her mind off of it, but she is pretty dysregulated and at this point I still usually don’t help that. The more distanced I am the calmer she is. So instead I am sitting a few feet away at my computer typing – with my eyes on sweet girl instead of my screen and reminding her gently that I can see her every time her hands go near her face. I wish I could do more.

So much of my parenting with Hope right now is… I wish I could do more. Our therapist told me last week that we were doing such a great job with her, and that she has made such improvement… and I just didn’t know exactly what good I was doing. She gets very little stretching, because she is horribly intolerant of it most of the time. We do sensory brushing and tummy time, but that only lasts for a few minutes and then we’re done. It doesn’t seem like much.

I can’t help her calm down when she’s upset. She did let me calm her down last week once or twice, but that’s out of seven days of being upset or overstimulated several times a day. There is progress… but I just wish I could do more. I want to bond with her, but there is so little I can do that doesn’t cause her to go into a downward spiral. Our connecting activities have to be infrequent and very short lived, or it’s just too much.

P8It makes me wonder what her days were like after our visits at the orphanage. That was two hours of constant contact and interaction. But I didn’t know any better. I never saw her afterward. It makes me wonder how dysregulated she was on those days and if it made her hurt herself even more. I hate to think that.

But even with all that being said… what I really came here to say was that this is actually a very good day. We are doing so well. Things seem to be on the upswing for once in quite a while. Today, for the first time since we brought the children home, I actually feel like the mom that I was before we left for Ukraine. I’m not struggling with a temper, I’m tuning in to my little ones’ feelings instead of constantly correcting. I’m really and truly enjoying my vocation today in a way that I haven’t been able to in what feels like forever… but probably hasn’t been that long.

Please, if you think of it, pray for more days like this for our family. Pray that the sunny days continue to come even through what’s sure to be a long, cooped-up winter. Your prayers have been helping get us through this transition, and we continue to treasure them. Quite a few have told me over the last month or so that they realize we have had a hard go of this, or that they know it has been a difficult transition.

While we very much appreciate the thoughts, I want to be really clear… we are not having a particularly difficult transition! In fact, the feelings and struggles we are experiencing as a family this early in the game are totally par for the course, especially for those of us who have adopted children from hard places. This pain and struggle is absolutely to be expected. I am so glad for this blog where I have been able to share that reality with those who might not have understood it before. Even for me this has been a learning experience. Yes, we knew it was going to be hard going in but… I never knew it would be like this. And from what I know now – we are in no way the minority.

Which got me to thinking… if what we are going through is the norm, how much more important for us to support those families who are actually having a hard go of it! The holidays are coming up and I am thinking of ways to bless other families walking this same journey with us. I don’t have any details yet, but I would love to spread some joy to other adoptive families this year, as we have had just so much joy lavished upon us.

If you are an adoptive family who could use a little love, know one who is, or if you might like to help with a little bit of a Christmas gift project for those who do, please let me know! Getting these children home is half the battle, but caring for orphans also means caring for the families of former orphans who are still very much in the trenches of it all.   We are very blessed to be surrounded by a community who understands that 110%, but not every family is surrounded by such a caring support network, and I want them to know what we have been able to know all along, that the Body of Christ is behind them, praying for them and loving them through it all.

And with that, I am off to do some more scheming and to maybe hold our Pokey Princess for a few minutes if she’ll let me. I’ll try to write again soon, in the meantime, may you also have a very sunny Autumn day!

A Time of Quiet

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As you can tell, I haven’t been updating as regularly.  I have lots of things to talk about, but the more fun we have the less time there is for blogging!  In many ways this feels to me like a season of quietness for me.  After so much being public for so long about our adoption process and our little ones I am feeling a desire to step back for a little while and be out of the spotlight for a time.  I absolutely have no intention of going away, there are so many of you who have helped to get us to this point and I will continue to share our family with all of you as the Lord provides the time and ability for me to do so.

With that being said, we have had a fairly good week.  The kids went to their first doctor’s visit here in town and saw our favorite chiropractor who is great with little ones and specializes in adjusting children with special needs.  She does an incredible amount with children who have autism and was able to give us some more insight on Hope’s stimming.  For example, the reason why she pokes her eyes is because it causes her to see spots and colors.  It’s a way of getting new visual stimulation when you never leave your crib.  Hope is not autistic, but she does have many behaviors similar to what you see with autism that are caused by the chronic neglect of an institutional life.

I have been noticing, bit by bit, her stimming is beginning to slow down.  At first she did it constantly, 24/7 when we were home, and most of her behaviors are self-injuring so I had to watch her like a hawk.  But sometimes now she will go 15-20 minutes at a time without even thinking of stimming.  Her dietary transitioning I am very pleased with.  She still does not handle grains, haven’t tried dairy yet, but she can do some fruit with no issue.  We did a little family birthday party for Stephen on his baptism birthday a few days ago.  Everyone else got cake and ice cream, so I gave her some banana baby food as a treat.  No trouble at all!

I have also switched from Crystal Light to coconut water.  Apparently I got the yuckiest flavor of Crystal Light in existence and no wonder I couldn’t get her to drink it!  I decided to switch to coconut water because it’s not fruit juice (I think that’s just too much for her system right now) and it is natural without a bunch of junk in it.  I was hoping it would be just sweet enough that she would be agreeable and she loves it!  Right now we’re using the one with added orange juice and gradually putting in less of the orange juice and more of the regular coconut water.  The goal is to eventually get her to drinking regular water, but that will probably take some time as she has never had water in her life and there isn’t much flavor to encourage her to drink it.

I am also moving from store bought baby food to all homemade.  Right now the vegetables are the only thing she’s getting from the store, and the meat portions I’ve been making taste better, are more filling and are way healthier.  I can add extra veggies and fats and season it a little.  I currently have a draft on homemade baby foods I’m working on.  So excited to share that when it’s done!

In other news, we did have a birthday party this week for my favorite two year old kid.  He missed out on a regular party due to the craziness of getting his new siblings home, but we celebrated on his baptism birthday two days ago and it was a great.  We had a gift, a cake, some balloons and all six of us together.  Here you can see the newly dubbed Big Brother helping Daddy put together his first bike.

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In other news the children are very much enjoying their baby dolls lately.  Getting their older brother/sister gears in order I suspect!  Today was a hoot.  I let them bring their babies outside and they were all trying to do everything with them.  Swing, ride bikes, go for a spin in the toy car… ya know, to go to the gas station for cheese sticks and baby food.  (Can you guess which little girl took her dollie there? Lol!)  Speaking of sweet girls, Evangeline is insistent that the baby is a girl and really wants to name her Allie, which also happens to be the name of her baby doll.  Her pleading is so irresistible I am almost considering the name… almost.

I snapped a couple shots of baby dolls on the swing set for ya’ll.  And guess what Stephen found out today?? My phone takes black and white photos!  And sepia!  How neat is that!?

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Highs & Lows

Wow was today a long day!  To save energy I’m just going to make today’s post a series of highlights and lowlights from yesterday and today.  And (how fun) I can even do it in Patriotic colors to celebrate!  Have a great night America!  Happy 4th of July!!

Highlight!  My mom arrived today!  We are so excited to have her here.  What a great blessing!  I haven’t seen her in exactly a year and have missed her dearly.  Feeling super energized and ready to tackle this next week.  She isn’t travel weary since she just started and her enthusiasm is totally contagious.  Love, love, love her.

Lowlight… Being stuck at the birth certificate office for two hours.  Apparently since my last name and my maiden name are only two letters apar,t the office issuing Jacob’s new birth certificate was certain that our marriage license in the Dossier was wrong.  No other families have had this problem, but because they look the same I suppose it was reason to create an issue.  Our facilitator fought valiantly on the phone for two hours and fixed it… but it made for a longer day for sure.

Highlight!  Jacob brags about us to everyone.  It was so funny at yesterday’s visit.  A boy around Jacob’s age, maybe a year or so older, was outside watering flowers when we came in.  He asked if we were there to see Juri and pointed us back to where he was.  We thanked him.  When we came back that way Jacob (Juri) began talking to the boy in Russian.  We gathered from the little we know that he was talking about how his Mama and Papa were there to see him.  The boy replied with rollng eyes and a tired “Yes, I know I know…”  I get the feeling he talks about us a lot.  The nanneis also reply with similar responses.  I won’t ever get tired of his bragging though.  So in love with this kid.

Lowlight… Missing my dear Hope something awful today.  Just a little more than a week until we don’t have to say goodbye anymore.  How I long for that day.

Highlight! Picking up our court decree this morning.  Yes I had to get up early, but it was so worth it!  I couldn’t read any of it, but to see it with my own eyes was marvelous.  The papers that proclaimed Jacob as our son, wow have I been waiting a long time for that!

Lowlight… Tried a McDonald’s milkshake to celebrate July 4th and would you believe it?!  Yes, it’s thick and creamy like a true American milkshake, but the flavor was way off.  I’m sorry, I don’t know what that was but it wasn’t chocolate.  Maybe vanilla would have been safer?  So disappointed…

Highlight!  Mom actually packed two pieces of delicious, thick crust, pepperoni DiGiorno pizza in her suitcase.  I am eating it right now… best thing I’ve had in weeks.

Lowlight… The sun goes down late here after the kids are in bed.  I had packed red, white and blue glow sticks for today but never got to use them.  Maybe they’ll be fun for the plane ride home?

Highlight!  I think I might have a Momma’s boy on my hands… Yesterday I offered to let Daddy take Jacob back to his groupa since I usually do it.  As soon as he started toward the little guy, Jacob immediately lunged at me and said “Nyet! Mama!”.  I felt like a million bucks.  :)

And a double highlight to finish off the night! The siblings are getting along smashingly!  Ok fun story.  At yesterday’s visit Evangeline fell asleep in the car on the way, so I went and got her up half way through so she could see her brother.  She was so groggy, and her personal space bubble is a toxic DO NOT ENTER zone when she’s woken up!  Let the screaming commence if anyone dare go near it.  So I walk her over to the table we were at and sit her down on the bench next to Jacob (not right next to him because of the bubble thing).

But he was SO excited to see her that he reached his arms out for a hug and insisted I put her closer.  I couldn’t help but oblige and scooted her over.  He smothered her in a huge hug and kept his arm wrapped around her the whole time.  I cringed and kept waiting for the screaming to start.  I was stunned… she didn’t make a peep.  Then he began speaking loudly and intently to “Papa” about something.  And began putting his hand on Evie’s face trying to motion what he was talking about.  We eventually heard the word “peet” and deduced he was asking us to get her a drink!

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Apparently she looked like she needed something to liven her up a bit.  I set the juice on the table in front of her, which he proceeded to pick up and help her drink, lol!  He was so protective and attentive and brotherly.  And I was sure Evangeline was going to go ballistic on him, but she tolerated every bit of the attention!  These two are going to be great pals.  And what a precious moment to have right after writing the post about his name and my prayer that he would grow to be the mature, protecting older brother for his siblings.  God is so generous in the glimpses of hope he gives us each and every day.

Happy Father’s Day!

As a Father’s Day present I didn’t really get on the computer all day and so haven’t blogged yet!  But I wanted to do a little something special before heading off to bed.

I wanted to give a shout out to all you wonderful fathers!  Just to name a few…

First, Jake, the father of my children.  Dear husband I thank God for you every day.  Your strength and wisdom lead our family in the narrow path God has set before us.  I admire your work ethic, your compassion, your endless energy as you have been playing with your little ones all day long since we have been overseas during this adoption.  I love that when we missed church this one Sunday it completely threw off your whole day.  You know Who is important and that knowledge is evident in your entire life.  Thank you for teaching me about patience and love and self-sacrifice.   Thank you for pushing me to be a better mother.  Thank you for loving and forgiving more freely than any person I know.

Second, my dear Dad… growing up I never knew the extent of the sacrifices you made for our family and our country.  I have a little bit better of an idea now and it brings tears just thinking about it.  Thank you.  I’m sorry I left home a year early, I’ll say it – you were right!  One more year to spend with you and our family would have been better than anything the world could have offered me.  Thank you for caring so much about our family that you worry more than you should.  I know you love me because you’re always telling me what to do giving me wise counsel.  You are the best dad I’ve ever had and that won’t change for forever.

Grandpa, I miss you so much!  I have been trying to come see you since Stephen was born and it has just been impossible for us to make it out.  Thank you for being my Dad’s Dad and for giving him a really hard time when he needs it.  (Which, I’m sure, is quite often.)  Thank you for all that you have done and given to us through the years.  I think and pray for you often and I pray especially that we see you very soon so you can finally meet your second grandson and the new ones too!

And I certainly couldn’t forget Papa, my Dad-in-law (who is most likely better than yours, sorry but God gave me a great one!) thank you for so many things.  For raising my husband to be sweet, considerate, compassionate and loving.  For modeling for him what a good husband looks like so he had more than just an inkling when it was his turn.  Thank you for being such a great Papa to our children and for supporting Jake and I so we can be better parents.  Thank you for all the hard work you have done in the last five years of our marriage to help us through.  Thank you for being livable and lovable since we get to live so close!  :)

And finally, to the father I saw yesterday feeding and changing and loving on his precious daughter who is an a laying room just like our Janna is.  I saw your love for your girl.  I don’t know your story, but I know it’s not an uncommon one.  Please know I am praying for you and your daughter, praying beyond hope that there is some way you can be together one day.  I am praying for your hearts; to lose a child in death must be hard, but I imagine what you are going through is even harder.  Thank you for visiting her, for doing all that you can.  God bless you and your efforts to be the best father you know how to be in an impossible situation.

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Dear Lord thank you for all the fathers in my life, all those who have blessed me with their fatherly love and who have made my life and who I am today possible.  Thank you for providing me with such godly men to lead and to guide me, to guard and protect me in all the seasons of my life.  May I always respect and honor them by my words, thoughts and deeds.  Help me to continually lift them in prayer as we all walk this journey together of working out our salvation with fear and trembling.  Bless the families and the people you have put in their care and give them love and joy all the days of their life.  Amen.

The Battle Plan

Are ya’ll ready for this?  Yesterday was my Battle Cry for Sutter.  Today we’re getting to the Battle Plan.

Sutter has until February to find a family.  He will be turning 16 then and will lose his chance to be adopted.

Let’s not cut it that close folks.

My goal is a family for him by Christmas.  Let’s make this happen.  My Battle Plan includes several strategic moves and I need YOU to be my army and make it happen!  This post will be updated frequently with where we are at in our plan and the progress we make, so keep it bookmarked for future reference!

STRATEGIC MOVE 1: PRAY

God loves Sutter more than I do, more than you do and more than anyone ever could.  The absolute best thing we can do for Sutter is to pray for him.  I need 16 prayer warriors to commit to praying for Sutter until his family is found.  Below is a list of the prayer warriors we have already and the ones we still need!  I am hoping that we can cover this boy and the family who has not found him yet with prayer throughout the day.  If you pick a slot you commit to praying for Sutter at least once every day during the day, preferrably within the time frame listed.  I have two overnight slots available for those night owls, people who wake up frequently at night to pray or friends in other time zones who can cover those hours.  This list will be updated as we get new warriors in!

Morning Warriors (5am-10am)
1. Taken!
2.
3.
4.
5.

Afternoon Warriors (10am-3pm)
6. Taken!
7. Taken!
8. Taken!
9.

Evening Warriors (3pm-10pm)
10. Taken!
11. Taken!
12. Taken!
13.
14.

Overnight Warriors (10pm-5am)
15. Taken!
16.

STRATEGIC MOVE 2: ADVOCATE

Other than praying this is quite possibly the most pivotal part of our strategy.  We must advocate for Sutter or his family may never find him.  I need sixteen people to join me in advocating for this child!  Our mission is to introduce him to as many people as possible as soon as possible.  My strategy for this is Letter Carrying (or as my husband lovingly called it, guerrilla warfare).  I need sixteen (or more!) volunteers to sign up for this task.  I will send you a PDF file letter with Sutter’s picture, story and a way for them to get more information on how to help.  Print off as many as you think you might use, fold them and seal them with a note on the outside for whoever is likely to read it (Ex: “Dear Christmas Shopper” if you are at a store or “Dear Reader” if you leave them in a library).  Place them in strategic places around your town and pray that God would soften the recipient’s heart to pray, advocate, give share or adopt!

We still need THIRTEEN more Letter Carriers!!

STRATEGIC MOVE 3: SHARE

Along with advocating independantly, you can also advocate through sharing.  It’s very easy!  My goal is to have (you guessed it!) 16 shares on each post I write for Sutter through the Christmas season.  I will update this with a list of all my posts for Sutter.  Please share each one and check back regularly to make sure you get them all!  16 shares per post would be FANTASTIC in helping me to get the word out and encouraging some more participation.  Please share on Facebook, Twitter, through email or your own blog and let me know so I can update numbers!  Below I will list all current posts:

1. Battle Cry: Shares so far…. THREE
2. The Battle Plan: Shares so far… SIX

STRATEGIC MOVE 4: GIVE

Yes give!  Giving to Sutter’s tax deductible grant fund does a few great things.  After his family sees him for the first time, one of their first reactions might be “How can we possibly afford to adopt?”  If he has a large grant fund that diminishes some of the fear for the family of taking that leap of faith.  It shows them not only that a part of his adoption has already been paid for but also that there are other people out there that want to see him come home and will likely help along the way.

Second, if we reach our Angel Tree goal of raising $1,000, Sutter will be moved up to the next level of Moving Mountains on the Reece’s Rainbow advocacy site.  This gives him a huge bump in visibility, which could help his family see him!  And last but not least, a larger grant means less time fundraising and the ability for his family to move quickly through the process once they commit.  This is a huge blessing, especially for Sutter who has already spent the first sixteen years of his life alone and has so much time to make up for!

As the Lord leads, please go to this link to make your tax deductible gift to Sutter: http://reecesrainbow.org/52642/sutter

If you give a gift of $35.00 or more, Reece’s Rainbow will send you a lovely ornament for your Christmas tree.  You can see the details for that HERE.

In addition, my husband and I have decided to tithe 10% of all the donations we get from Juri’s Birthday Party Fundraiser to Sutter’s grant from now until the end of the year.  If we meet our fundraising goal we can put an extra $2,000 in Sutter’s account!  Please check it out! 

I have another fundraiser coming up the pipe as well so stay tuned!!

STRATEGIC MOVE 5: ADOPT

We don’t need sixteen… we just need one.  Sutter needs one Mommy and one Daddy.

Sutter could be your son.  God has a family for this boy.  Is it you?

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