Saturday, March 26, 2011

Family Photos

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When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses. ~Joyce Brothers

We needed to take some family photos for our upcoming six month post placement report for Zoe, as well as for our church directory.

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Let me say, it is never fun to get all six kids together to pose properly. It tends to turn into a gong show...

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We managed to get a few good shots though and the kids all cooperated. We sat down and took many pictures within about five minutes and were done!

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There is no cure for laziness but a large family helps. ~Herbert Prochnov

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tim and I

We started dating at the age of sixteen...

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We got engaged at eighteen...

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We got married at nineteen...

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We started a family at twenty-three...

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We now have six children...

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*we were trying to pose like they did in the olden days!

I have an amazing life, with amazing children and an amazing husband. He cares so much for other people. I have barely had time to talk to him this week, except for little bits here and there. He is either at the hospital or on the phone. Our hearts are breaking. Life is so fragile and everything can change so fast. We feel on the verge of tears at all times. I am thankful he is in my life and cannot imagine life without him. I cannot imagine loving anyone more.

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Psalm 94:19
In the multitude of my anxieties within me,Your comforts delight my soul.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Updates and a Black Eye

Tim is recovering well and not in much pain, as long as he stays on Advil. Some family requested a photo of him with his black eye. So here you all go.

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Lilah is doing amazingly well so far. The second and third day after her surgery, she was very swollen and couldn't even turn her neck, but she was in no pain and needed no pain medication. The swelling has now gone down and she is just on the antibiotics they gave her for a week. At this point, it doesn't really look all that different than the other side of her face, just a bit more swollen. You can't tell that there is a tissue expander in there at all, unless you look behind her ear at the stitches and where the port is under the skin. Her first check up and fill will be on April 6 th.

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Two Black Belts

I thought this post would be a bit more joyful than it may be. This weekend was a hard weekend emotionally. Tim and Josiah both got their black belts in Tae Kwon Do (ITF) and I couldn't be prouder of either of them. In fact, I told Josiah that I have never been prouder of him in his whole life, and I truly am. And of Tim as well.

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*this photo was taken right after they finished. They got their black belts the next day at grad.

They have both been preparing for this exam for months. Lots of studying, practicing, private lessons, mentoring lessons, teaching and many many classes. Josiah was sure that he would NOT pass and wanted to give up many times! I prayed and prayed that he would pass each step of this exam, mostly for me and my sanity... I did not want to have to do this process with him again in June.

Last weekend, they wrote a two hour test on all of the knowledge they have learned over that past few years. And they both passed.

On Friday, they did their fitness test. They had to run 2.4 km in a certain amount of time. Tim is a runner (although he barely ever runs!) and he took off like a shot and did the first lap in 31 seconds. He finished the 2.4 km in 10:07 minutes. Josiah came in third place, but didn't rank as high because he is younger and needed to run it faster. But he ran faster than all the other kids. They then headed to the Dojang to do sit ups and push ups. Josiah did 91 sit ups in two minutes and Tim did 71. Josiah struggled with his push ups, but in the end they both passed and moved on. They then had to do shield work, where they had to kick the shields 3X for two minutes each time. By this time they were exhausted! They then did all their self-defense and step-sparring.

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*these photos were taken by my dad

I knew Tim would be fine throughout this process, by as a mother, I worried about Josiah and I think I was just as stressed out as he was. I didn't go to watch any of the testing and wasn't going to go on Saturday to watch the sparring and breaking, but at the last minute I decided to go. I knew Josiah would appreciate me being there, even though it was the hardest thing I have ever had to watch.

In the morning, they had to do 11 patterns. They both did really well.

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In the afternoon, they had to do sparring and breaking. For sparring, they did three rounds of two minutes each, fighting with a new black belt each round. They were basically beat up and pushed to their absolute limit, they had to stay on their feet and push through all the pain and emotions (and trust me -- emotions were running high!). This is the part that was bittersweet. This is the part that I cannot get out of my head.

All I could think the entire time was that this is the STUPIDEST THING THAT I HAVE EVER SEEN! I felt sick to my stomach and was on the brink of losing it emotionally. And I was angry that it had to be so extreme. I do understand why they do it, but it still felt like some things were taken too far.

Tim sparred first and because he is a fit adult, they go hard at him. He took a hit to the head (right above his eye) which kind of stunned him and he began to stagger. I could see in his eyes that he was in a zone and focused on just getting through the fights, but they kept checking his eyes and he kept saying he was okay, he was okay. He also took a kick to the kidney and he is now dealing with blood in his kidney and blood clots in his urine which is causing extreme pain. He went and had a CT done. He has a lovely black eye.

Josiah sparred next. This just about killed me. He is only twelve and was put up against adult black belts. His emotions were high and he was crying and very quickly bleeding from his nose and his mouth. He is typically not a bleeder. He kept looking at me. I asked him why and what he was thinking... he said he wanted to see if I was still watching. There was one point they slammed him up against the wall and some fathers than moved in to stand there to stop that from happening again. Another example, in my opinion, of pushing things too far. He persevered through the pain and exhaustion and finished. I could have cried at this point. I knew he made it. Only breaking boards was left and that is a strong suit for him. I knew he had a black belt!

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*this photo breaks my heart.

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The breaking boards was like a big, happy party. A lot of fun and cheering and excitement. The parents, the team mates, the black belts, everyone has such a camaraderie. They hug each other, give high fives and encourage each other like nothing I have seen in any sport before. Of course, this is right after they beat you up!

My dad came to watch - my parents came up for Lilah's day surgery and to watch the black belt testing - and my dad took many of these photos. They are blurry, but you can see how high Josiah can kick. There was no way, I could even pull a camera out that day, my focus was on Josiah and Tim.

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I have such mixed emotions about the whole process. I hate violence. I hate fighting. Tim is not a fighter, and it is against his nature to hurt someone in anyway. He heals, not hurts. I almost don't know if this is worth it. I have two more boys who want to go through this. But at the same time, I am so proud of them.

Part of the issue is that someone was taken by ambulance that afternoon to the hospital. Tim's testing partner, who he has gone through TKD with these past few years. A father with two small boys. And a wife that I sit and visit with often. I can't say much, except that it is extremely serious and it has put everyone in an state of shock and sadness, including the instructors. If I hadn't seen this happen, I might be feeling totally different right now. Nothing like this has ever happened at this school. But I am hoping - along with many others - that it will bring some changes to how the sparring is done. All I could think on Saturday, was thank God it wasn't Tim or Josiah! And then you feel guilty... but I do think I am traumatized. It is not right for a woman to watch her husband and son get beat up.

Josiah and Tim are exhausted and very sore. This was Josiah when he came home on Saturday night.

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Sunday was the graduation and for the black belts it was exciting and yet very mellow.

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This is Josiah and Nikki (his best friend at TKD). We have tried not to talk too much about what all is going on in front of the kids.

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And my favorite photo at grad... so full of all the emotions that are going on.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lilah's Day Surgery

We left the house this morning at 5:45 am and Lilah had her tissue expander put in at 7:30 am. It took about 1 1/2 hours to do the surgery. A little longer than anticipated.

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It is hard to explain, since I don't know anatomy, but Lilah has a preauricular sinus. This very small dead end tube doesn't have any purpose and isn't suppose to be there, it is just another thing... not related in any way to her cleft. It is like a large pore just in front of her ear but if you cut it out or through it there could be an infection. It made getting the tissue expander in a little more difficult because they had to access the place to put the expander from a smaller incision than planned.

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The expander is just over her cheekbone to expand the normal tissues before the second surgery. There is a port behind her ear that will be used to fill the expander when needed. The first fill will be done in about 2 weeks. Right now the tissue expander has about 10 cc's in it, but will eventually have 60 cc's. It just looks like she has a swollen cheek, with a bit of bruising.

She woke up slowly, but now after a couple of hours is acting like a regular kid. I am sure by bedtime she will be exhausted. She hasn't complained about any pain, just the tape behind her ear where the stitches run and the port is taped. She will be on antibiotics for a week to make sure infection doesn't settle in. Hopefully, this whole process will go well and in two months she can have her big surgery and we will be done with it by summer!

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Some people may wonder why I am posting about something so private, but I have had numerous people contact me through No Hands But Ours. People who have since adopted children with craniofacial clefts. Every cleft is different, but hopefully, this will encourage families who may also have to consider adopting a child with this, as well as, inform those who already have. I do plan to post photos of the process throughout the coming months, to show what a tissue expander looks like.

This is how God created Lilah and who he made her to be. I believe there is a reason for everything and this is a battle she will have to overcome, but she is such a strong little girl, I know that it will only make her stronger!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Abby's Bedroom Redo

This week is a crazy week at our house... I have a lot to blog about!

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I decided to make it even crazier for myself, by painting Abby's bedroom. It was time for a redo, as she is now soon-to-be sixteen.

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The before pictures are how her bedroom looked when we moved into our house. Abby was nine. We did change her bedding over the years and did some accessory updates, but it was time for the lime green paint to go.

Before:

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I figure this look should do okay, until she is ready to leave our nest. Or I push her out.

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*on a side note, Lilah is having her tissue expander put in tomorrow at 7:30am.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Little Blessings Christian Preschool Open House

Today was the open house at the preschool that the girls will be attending. Little Blessings Preschool opened up last year and is located not too far down the road from our house.

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I have always loved this church. When we moved here 20 years ago, this beautiful little country church was just outside of the city. Now with the boom, it is surrounded by new developments. Could there be a more beautiful preschool?

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I found out about this preschool from a friend named Beth, who is both the pastors wife and someone who also adopted from China.

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I was very impressed with what we saw.... the classroom is very large and filled with toys and activity centers. The teacher is a really sweet lady, who also happens to be in the adoption process.

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The girls are both so excited to go! Tacky shoes and all...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Update of Zoe's progress

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Today, Zoe had many appointments. We started off seeing the audiologist, who did some hearing tests. Zoe's hearing is great and they see no issues. There is a bit of fluid in the ear.

We then saw a social worker, who just asked questions and asked if we had questions. I had nothing for her.

Then we saw the speech pathologist. She was awesome. I was so worried that Zoe would go in and not say a word to her, but with all those toys, Zoe talked non stop. She wants to see Zoe again in 3 months to access her language skills. She was impressed that she could speak in full english sentences and that she could pronounce some sounds that 3 year olds usually cannot. She does have trouble with her S's and her Th's. But she believes with some reminders at home, she will need very little therapy.

We then saw the ENT Doctor. He saw no issues with her ears and wasn't worried about the fluid. She will need to be checked every six months, just to make sure everything is healthy.

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1. Zoe needs things to call her own. She will often pick up a toy or pick out a dress and come to me and say "My toy." "My dress." Not in a bossy or rude way, but just confirming that she does have things that belong to just her.

2. Zoe has no boundries. Even after four months home! She thinks that anything she sees is fair game and that she can touch it, hold it, play with it or try it out. She will find the ipad, wherever I have hidden it and use it to watch Dora. She has been banned from it, since I have found her smearing lotion on it and splashing it with water and dropping it numerous times. She will go into her siblings bedrooms and take whatever she wants... candy, nintendos, guitars, etc. If I leave gum out, she will eat it all, even if she has to scoot across the counter to reach it. She will play with the blinds. She will dig my lipgloss out of a basket and put it in her purse. She will sneak into the office and play on the computer.

3. Zoe still has some food issues. Not as much as when we first got her. But she will stuff crackers into her pants pockets, she will climb on a stool to grab fruit off the counter and eat it, she will go in the pantry to grab an orange or apple. If I say no to a snack (and I am not depriving her in any way -- she has many throughout the day!) she pouts and whines and begs. Thankfully, she still loves fruit above all else.

4. Zoe has no concept that I have to prepare food. I am sure the food just appeared to her in the orphanage, ready to eat. So when I enter the kitchen to make a meal, she runs to the chair and wants it now... even if it is sitting on the counter uncooked. Hence, more whining and pouting.

5. Zoe is still physically aggressive, usually only towards Lilah. She loves to grab her glasses and chuck them across the room. She will hit and push. Today, a little boy in a store came up to her and pushed her.... she cried like her world was ending! Why would he do this to her?! She has improved in this area a lot... no more biting, she knows a time out happens when she does this and seems to think twice about it.

6. Zoe is pretty easy to discipline. We just have to put her in a timeout and some times this makes her cry and sometimes, it just makes her pout. But as soon as we discuss what happened, she will say sorry mommy and give hugs and cuddles. She still continues to disobey the exact same rules over and over and over again. But she is sincerely sorry.

7. Zoe's language is coming along slowly. I think she can say more than she can understand. She will often look at me, not knowing what I am saying for the most part. But considering she was 3 1/2 years when we got her, I think she is doing really well! Her speech is very unclear, I understand more than anyone what she is saying, but even I can't always make out what she is trying to tell me. Her voice is very nasal. Her cries are very nasal. But even though she is usually still soft spoken, she CAN be very loud.

8. Zoe cannot seem to control herself in public. I believe that she (and the other children) were kept in one room and mostly made to watch tv in the orphange. So now, when we go out, especially to stores, she goes kind of crazy. In a very happy way, she runs and laughs and falls down.

These are all the same issues that we have had since day one, but we do see improvements in her everyday. She amazes us with her complete joy. She often runs around laughing for no reason, just because she is happy. I have never met a more joyful child!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Canadian Girl

After 20 long months...

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After numerous phone calls...

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After sending in the same documents twice...

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Lilah is finally a Canadian Citizen!

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Monday, March 7, 2011

A trip to the hospital

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Yesterday, Josiah was giving out horse back rides and Zoe fell off his back.

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She screamed. But being a typical and dramatic girl, we didn't really think it was too much to worry about.

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After the crying didn't stop, Tim checked out her arm and she refused to move it or bend it.

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After some quick x-rays and a check from the pediatric ER Doctor, it was popped right back into place. Zoe immediately stopped crying and started moving her arm like normal.

Abby had this exact injury at the same age. I am not sure why it is always the girls who get injured, dislocated elbows, broken bones, etc. My rough and tough boys have never broken any bones!