Thursday, May 30, 2013

Emma's First Day of School!

Emma started school last Monday!
She was very excited to be in the classroom, eat her bag lunch and to ride the bus!

I have many "mixed feelings"...
This was not part of the original dream.
I had hoped to be able to keep everyone home and educate them at home.

But there were a few snags in the dream
reality has lead us to utilize some of the services outside of our home.

In case you are wondering what "snags" we incurred.
 I will share them with you.

1. More children have joined our family than originally planned- I love that part! BUT it has made it very challenging for this novice homeschooling Momma.

2. We have many medical needs and many appointments. Of course I always hope that will change in the future but who knows?

3. All of our homeschooling children are relatively "new"  and they all need ME and MY ATTENTION and my help.
I did try to have Sarah be more independent and recently realized that she had been completely skipping the writing, grammar and partial reading in the curriculum she was working on.
I was NOT happy...
(BUT, I blame myself...) 
 Although she is 13 yrs old, she has only been home for 4.4 years and when she has questions she needs me to be available. She also needs me to hold her accountable.

4. A few of our children have moderate to severe learning disabilities. We have had 3 tested so far and realized what we suspected is actually correct. They need someone with them full time so they can learn too. They need someone who is trained in teaching a child with that special need.

As one woman stated... I cannot be too proud to ask for help when I need it.

Since some of the children's needs are greater than expected we need more than just one teacher, more than just me.

 I will be honest in saying the burden to meet every ones needs academically, medically and emotionally was a little too much.
There is just not enough of me to go around.

So we had to make some prayerful decisions.

We are happy with the decisions we have made and feel that by utilizing services available to us we can better meet all of our children's needs.

We wanted to give it a try this spring and since the timing with the IEP worked out, Emma was able to go to a couple weeks of school before summer break!

A few of our children need one on one help. Some need repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition... while others need more challenges and supervision.

We feel so very blessed to have our children home from China. 
Sometimes I find myself wearing so many different hats that I don't get a chance to just be 
"Loving MOM".
I don't want to be robbed of that title and that opportunity!
I don't want to be frustrated with myself and with my child.
I want a neutral person to do some of the daily grind (as they so eloquently put it at the neuro psych evaluation).
We have worked really hard to get them were they are at right now.
We are so thankful to God and we are very proud of each child.
For some of our children learning is a big challenge.
If we did not like our local schools we would not have sent Emma.
We happen to live in an excellent school district with many resources!

She only has 4 more days left and then she will be home for summer break!
Emma is currently in 6th grade, 7th grade next year!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Melissa and Madeline In Their Glasses and Patches!

The girls got their glasses and visually-
 it has opened up a whole new world!

The first day their eyes got tired and it was an adjustment.

they quickly got used to seeing better!

It was an exciting day!

The next day we began patching.

They are troopers and do not complain!
They didn't like it when I took off the patch so now I have them take it off.
Works much better and they are in control.

The other children have been so kind and helpful when the girls have their patches on!

Madeline has to return to the Dr in one month so we are trying to patch their right eye as much as possible!
So far we are getting in 6 -7 hours per day!
We want that left eye to regain some of it's sight and retrain her brain to use it!

She will most likely need cataract surgery on it soon.
They will remove her lens and she will wear a protective contact and glasses.

I think they can already see better out of their left eye but maybe it's too early, I don't know?

They seems to manage very well with only one eye!

We even went on a walk and played at the playground yesterday!

Thank you for all your comments and words of wisdom- it was so helpful!

We are getting a second pair of plastic glasses for gymnastics and rough play!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Our Decision For Abby

(Abby's Atheletes)

Last weekend we walked for 
Be The Match!

We walked in the pouring rain!
It was fun, adventurous and WET!
The kids got medals!
Mark and some of his friends ran the 5K!
We walked the 1K ;-)

We all got T shirts!
The weather cleared up later in the day!

Even though we have decided not to proceed with a bone marrow transplant for Abby are still very supportive of the cause!

It can be a 

for  so many people.

(Our stair steps!)

We heard from many of you regarding a BMT for Abby-
 whether it was prayers, advice, thoughts- it was all so helpful.

I had been leaning toward doing a BMT and Hubby was thinking just the opposite.

Through much prayer, through your responses and NHBO post 

made it clear!

We will not proceed with a BMT to improve Abby's quality of life.

It is too risky.

Abby is HAPPY in every way!

For her, getting a blood transfusion every 3 weeks is normal.
And it is a - just fine normal!
Actually is it better than a just fine normal!
It is a great normal!

We need to be so so so so

thankful for this normal!

One year ago we thought Abby's condition was pre cancer and leukemia was imminent.

Now, a potentially deadly illness is no longer looming over her.
Now, she is free 
and all we need to do is to plan for a 5 hour visit to the hemoc clinic every 3 weeks.
We can do that!

If Abby's situation changes 
and the LORD shows us that we need to move forward with a BMT
we would proceed.

Thank you to all of you who have prayed and responded 
And to the thallasemia group for letting me join!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Fabulous Birthday!

So very thankful for this extra large and crazy family!

In the morning we had coffee in the porch and visited with the children!

Then Katie and I went shopping!
I don't get much opportunities to go shopping so it was quite fun!

We would have loved to have gone to the pool but the MN weather did not cooperate...

The party started after 5:00 church!
It was so wonderful to have 15 of the 18 children there!

The new children love looking at pics of the big kids when they were young!

And dear Katie plunked away at the piano with a captive audience in tow!

Time to open gifts! 

They were all so proud of the pictures that they made for me!
The big boys gave me flowers and Godiva chocolate pretzels!

Our time chatting in the porch is the best part!

Thank goodness we have many laps to sit on!

 All of the children seem to be doing very well!

It is nice to be at the 4 month marker!
Mia's adjustment has gone very well. Every once in a while I will see her far away in thought. 
I am sure she is thinking about her past life.
Even if it wasn't such a great place, it was home to her...

Sarah and Mia have a great bond and a lot of fun together!

Ellie is once again comfortable with her place in the family.
At first adding a new sister near her age was a little threatening but now she seems settled with the changes and happy with making her our decisions instead of being a follower.

In time Mia will make more of her own decisions too but for now she is following Sarah a lot.
With more time and once her(Mia) language skills improve she will no longer need that security.

And the next thing we know Mark is getting a new hairdo!

Katie is getting a shoulder rub!

Johnny is getting a massage!

It was a fantastic day!

Thank you Jesus for a great birthday!!!

Friday, May 24, 2013

She's Home!

Guess who's home!!

Tomorrow is my birthday and I feel like I have already gotten my gift!!

We are so thrilled to have Katie home!
(Thank you Andrew!)

Andrew will be joining us next weekend!

The "kids" have two weddings to go to in the states so they will be a little busy- but we are thrilled to have whatever time we can get!!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Isn't She Lovely!

(I can hear Stevie Wonder playing in the background!)

Isn't she lovely, 
Isn't she wonderful,
Isn't she precious!

She can hold enough spaghetti for the whole family!!

This was my Mother's Day gift!

I'm thrilled with it!!

Except now I need a king size strainer!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Name Game!


Even though this is our last adoption I am expecting YOU to carry on the tradition!

I have played this ALL my life and would LOVE to continue playing it WITH YOU!!

We have "kind of" decided on this little guys name BUT as you know I sometimes change my mind!

We have been calling him
Joseph Michael.
Once home he will be "Joseph" and "Joey" to us.

Michael is after our friends son "Michael".
We know many Michaels and it is a great name BUT this is specific. . .

Michael went to live with Jesus when he was 8 yrs old.
He was such a wonderful little boy and we still miss him.
St. Michael is the Protector.

Our little guy has had many challenges in his short life.
I will share with you soon.
We feel God's guiding hand and we are planning to stick with this name.

However we are in a quandary with this little boy!


I was so surprised with the names many of you chose!
They were on the top of our list too!

When big brother Johnny came home I asked him what names he liked?
He right away said "I like the name Will!"

I agree! We love it too!
However, He must have had a momentary memory lapse. . .
your brother Billy (William) would not appreciate it!
Believe me... I did try to think how we could get a "Will" into the family without completely stealing big brothers name!

Of course then when Billy came home he was only slightly amused and suggested we name him John and call him Jack!

Okay, I think these two are so funny!
I still chuckle over this one!

AND I love the name Jack too!
BUT we are not planning on naming him, Will or Jack!

Many mentioned the name MAX.
I like it but it's not hubby's favorite and the boys said no.

The two top names seem to be
Jacob (Jake) or Benjamin (Ben).

I love them both!
We have prayed about it AND have seen signs for both of them.

(BTW he's singing a song in these pics!)

(Oh God Bless Him- he is such a precious boy!)

I actually LOVE LOVE the name JAMES!
BUT, hubby said no (he is a James).
Maybe he'll change his mind?

So. . .
What do you see?

A Jacob(Jake)?

A Benjamin (Ben)?


A James?

 I see a little guy that is not so happy about his leg/ankle braces!

Praising GOD for our two new additions!!

Can't wait to read your thoughts!!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Glasses, Patches, Surgery and more

Melissa and Madeline went to the eye Dr last week.

I figured they both may need glasses from what the Drs said in China.
"both had a weak left eye" and should be seen by the eye DR once we were home.
Of course I kinda hoped they were wrong.

The pediatrician did a very basic eye exam and they both did okay. I did not get a sense of urgency from the pediatricians office.
We made our eye appts but twice something came up and we rescheduled.

Down deep I felt like something was quite right. Both girls would hold the heads in different positions and look out from under their eyelids or from the side of their eyes- like a focusing issue.
I also wondered if Madeline had a roaming eye or a bit of strabismus. She has trouble directing her eyes on people when they are speaking to her (I also wondered if that was deliberate and if she was being a bit belligerent during those times).

Last week we finally had our appt and we got some unexpected news.

Melissa is ver very farsighted and she will need glasses. She also has a classic weak eye and will need to retain her brain to strengthen it. If she is in fact 7 yrs old they are hopeful she will have some positive results. I guess once the child get older the chances to strengthen a weak eye are less.
So she will be wearing a patch for 3-5 hours or more hours per day...

Madeline's right eye is pretty good but her left eye has a large cloudy cataract over the lens.
We don't know why or how it happened.
She can barely see at all out of her left eye.
Poor dear...
it really made my heart sad for her.

She is such a darling child but she has to put up with-
  a large hole in her right ear drum, major speech issues, all 4 quadrants of her mouth were filled with cavities/abscessed teeth and she now has a cataract (that will have to removed at some point- maybe sooner rather than later). 

And I wonder why she is not learning as fast as the other children?
I wonder no more...

Madeline will also be getting glasses and patching her left eye.
Please pray that the patching will be successful and the sight in her left eye will improve significantly.

At this point the Dr said that if it does not improve she will basically only have one functioning eye.
We go back in a month with Madeline and see if we have made any progress. At that point they will talk to us about the surgical options.

(Melissa wearing my glasses!)

The DR said that when you patch a child's eye they get very subdued and depressed like. They may cry the first couple times. He recommended doing something low key and fun like- TV time, iPad and snack.

Please pray with us for both of the girls vision.

I would love to hear from others that have managed the eye patching and glasses for their young kiddos.
This is all new to us!
Out of 16 children, none of them have worn glasses until now.