Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Recap

Annalyn and Anna love being outside! The weather has been so nice this past week, it is easy to see why!

We have been busy the last few weeks, so I'll recap with a few key points.

*Julia and Adam are practicing for a big recital coming up at the end of April. They will be playing a duet!

*Caleb is going to another school dance tomorrow! He is so outgoing!

*Julia and Rachel are practicing for a track and field event at school.

*First Adam got the chicken pox, then William, and now Julia.

*Great report cards from all the kids.

*Dennis' two surgeries went great and he is on the road to a new blue eye!

*Jonny is registered for kindergarten.

*Adam registered for high school.

*Alexsey's adoption paperwork is almost complete.

*Sveta is being re-evaluated for her IEP.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Digest 14

Michelle said...
...... on to my own question... it's about Dennis. 2 questions, actually! in the first picture of Dennis (i believe it's the baby one you put on his blog), his damaged eye is very clearly blue. it's blue and the rest of it is white. in recent pictures, it appears to be more red/pink. is this temporary, or is it getting worse over time? maybe you've not even noticed it, it's just something i've seen. also, does Dennis have any sort of internal damage? like brain damage, hydrocephalus, organ damage, etc., as a result of the amniotic banding?i was in the hospital again yesterday & haven't been well enough to get that card mailed out to Julia with the donation for her... brain surgery complications have been out of control... but i promise to do it as soon as i can! :-)- michelle

Very observant Michelle. Back in November, an Oculoplastic Surgeon preformed an eye evisceration so that Dennis' eye would not rupture and become infected. Now it has an orbital ball inside so that there isn't a hole. According to the CT Scan and all of the other testing he has had, everything appears normal. He is catching up very quickly developmentally except for speech. But again he had a cleft palate so this is to be expected. Hope this week is better for you. Hopefully whoever reads this can say a prayer for you too.

Kristen said...
Dennis has to have food coming out of his fistula until he is 5?

Kristen, thanks for your concern. Too bad your tone and lack of sincerity makes you seem like such a bitter person. (This is not her first post) Of course no one wanted this to be the case, but at the time that I wrote the post where you made this comment, yes I was told that this would happen until a bone graft filled the fistula. Still, I would have loved him no matter what! Praise God that the doctor was able to correct it during Dennis' last surgery!

mommytoalot said...
....... I still cannot get those children out of my heart
That is a good thing. :) There are so many ways to help orphans even though you may not be able to adopt. Pray for them, donate supplies to their orphanages, help another family to adopt one of these children, go on a mission trip, etc. I know that God can use you in a powerful way!

Chris said...
Just a quick comment to the first answer you posted. Having had an abortion at 19, living with guilt for many years, and finally surrendering both my pain and my guilt to God; I believe that I know first-hand how horrific abortion is. My entire family lived and breathed guilt, and it wasn't until I made my peace with God that my mother was able to let loose of her guilt. It took awhile though, I couldn't believe that God could forgive something so huge, I was limiting Him to my own puny expectations. He is so much bigger, so much more EVERYTHING than I could even imagine. I just had to let go, lay myself at the foot of the cross and accept that my Saviour just wanted me to ask.And just a quick note that if education and family planning was the issue, abortion rates would decline, I don't know the numbers but I certainly don't feel this is the case. Raising them for Him,Christi

We have a lot in common. Thank you for your honesty. I have no doubt that God loves you, forgives you, and will prove sovereign as always, as He uses your story to extend His kingdom.
Amy said...
{{{HUGS}}} .......... And don't BUY strawberry jam.. send my your address and I'll send you some HOMEMADE strawberry jam. lol

Is that offer still good? Homemade jam is the best! :)

Rebecca said...
Christine, I too have recently been dealing with the loss of a friendship because of my honesty. I keep telling myself oh-so-logically that "we can't have been that great friends if my honesty results in the loss of our friendship," but sadly, emotions aren't all that logical, and it took a toll on me for a little while.Hoping and praying that you continue to be able to lay your burdens at the Lord's feet.--Rebecca (longtime reader, but I think a first time commenter)

Thanks Rebecca. So glad you decided to comment. Things are better between us now, I think.

Grannysaurus said...
You make dieting look yummy. My problem isn't diet. My weight never varies much, but I wish there was a 'yummy' way to exercise. It doesn't get any easier as I get older.You are doing great!

You surely mean, I was doing great. I have since stopped dieting. I found that it was taking too much time to prepare the food. I have gained back two pounds, but overall, I am eating healthier.... and less food.

Tilly Cat & Pip-Squeak said...
Christine, would you mind inviting me to your blog where you talk about how you became a Christian? (Am I right remembering you had such a blog?) I find the way you think inspirational often, and being a very new Christian myself, I'd love to read it. My email is abadop at yahoo dot com. Best,AnnaPS: You have to come over and have a look in my blog, because every time I see Dennis I think he looks like the twin of my little boy, Philip (without the scars, but same eyes, same colouring, same hair, same expressions...)

I decided not to do a private blog. I will email you with my public one. And I will definitely check out your blog. :)

adoptandoenucrania said...
We will have your little son in our prayers next week!. Best wishes from Plasencia, Spain!Marcial, Libia, Alexei & Karlos

Wow-- all the way from Spain! I hope the translator I put on my blogs work. Thanks for your well wishes!

One Crowded House said...
I would love your mushroom soup and stuffed caps recipes... please do share!!!

I hate to tell you, but I can't remember exactly how I made them. I usually always alter a recipe and this case I added flaxseed to the mushroom caps stuffed with herbed cream cheese and I sauteed the mushrooms in butter and olive oil before mixing them with broth and cream. I bet any basic recipe for either thingswould be delicious.

Anonymous said...
Hi, I was wondering if you have any tips for the tantrums. What do you do if they refuse to go to timeout or their room? Or if they start throw things, hit people, destroy the house? I adopted an older child and its getting out of hand. Once the tantrum is over, its like an instant change, so our relationship outside the tantrum is fine. I think she's having flashbacks and also testing to see if I will leave her also. But its getting out of hand, and I worry as she gets older.

Thankfully my kids don't tantrum like that. My one daughter (once in a blue moon) will beg over and over to not go to bed for a timeout in a loud like whine while she tries to grab onto my leg so I have to physically pick her up and set her in her bed and insist she stay there until she calms down. Another daughter is usually always with me when I do this so that there is never the opportunity for her to say that I was too rough with her when I put her in her bed. This is important for one daughter who still feels the need to run in and check on things anytime a sibling starts crying. She needs the reassurance still that her sibling's crying is a result of stubbing a toe, play fighting with a sibling, having their hair rinsed when taking a bath, or having an empty bowl of ice-cream taken away so that he doesn't put it on his head. A few times Dennis collapsed onto the floor to have a tantrum and I firmly told him that he better stop or I would pick him up and take him to bed for a nap. After he realized that I was serious, he stops immediately now. Sveta used to have crying tantrums over school work but not any more. Even still, none of my kids have ever had a tantrum in public. I have found that what works best is that if I say I am going to do something as a result of their tantrum, I follow through..... even though I might feel like giving grace. I'm all for grace but this is a time when I need to stay firm.
I think it is important to be firm and consistent with everything you do. The rule in our home is to always try your best and make schoolwork a priority. I check this by occassionally giving a "pop quiz" when a child says they have studied and yet I see them watching tv. If I stay firm at all times with my expectations and don't wait for things to escalate, when that same child asks to go to a friend's house later that week, she is more accepting of my "no" answer because of the earlier incidence. I guess what I am trying to say is not to let things build up---- or sooner or later you are going to have a blow up!
If I was in your shoes and had a teenager that was throwing things, hitting people, and destroying the home, we would have a serious talk with them when they were not having a tantrum. I find it is always better to parent and discipline outside of conflict. I would not handle this on my own. My husband and I are a team and our children know that they cannot come between us and play us against each other. If this doesn't work, I would let my child know that if they have another tantrum that results in broken items, I will expect them to make restitution for all that they destroyed and that I would get to choose three things of theirs to give away to charity. My kids already know that if anyone is violent in our home including them or us, authorities need to be involved. A lot of my kids came from abusive homes and the last thing they need is there to be violence home. This does not include the occasional spank on the bottom or hand for reaching for the stove or running out into the street.
Your daughter needs the reassurance that no matter what she does she will always be your daughter, but she needs to choose how she is going to live her life--- grounded in her bed writing sentences or out and about living happily because she is choosing to be the amazing girl that you knew she always could be.
Laura said...
Christine: I just read what you wrote on Melissa's blog (about her son who came home last week and is now pulling away from her, not wanting to snuggle, etc.) and all that you said really touched me. We're awaiting the call to go back and bring our little girl home and I will take all that you said to heart in preparation for similar reactions.In the meantime, I pray for your beautiful little Dennis as well as your family. You truly are amazing!Many blessings,Laura

Please refresh my memory. Can I have the link to the blog? Seems that I can't recall what I wrote. Thanks for the prayers!
Shelley said...
What a wonderful update. It always amazes me how tough kids are and how fast they seem to bounce back. Praying that your entire family doesn't end up with chicken pox!

Shelley, I thought that no one else was going to get it-- but I was wrong. William has them now--- but very mild compared to Adam. Note to self--- the varicella vaccine does not work!

Jillene said...
The granola looks SO yummy!! And where are the recipes for the granola and the cookies? Are you going to share? Hope so!!

Sorry, again both of these recipes have been modified so I don't have the recipe on the computer. I will eventually be starting a recipe blog. Eventually.

Debbie said...
I'm sorry to hear about this little girl. I hope God provides her with a wonderful family!

She now has a wonderful family! I am so happy for all of them!

Amy said...
You need to do a side by side (Before and After) to really show the results of the surgery. He looks wonderful. And yes, he looks so happy.

Yes, he is one happy little guy!

A.R.Williams said...
We've never met, but I feel connected to your family's story. I am inspired by your love for your children. It is so rare to find such large, functioning families with two caring parents. And Dennis is such a cutie! Thank you so much for allowing readers across the country to watch your family grow and change. -Anna

Thank you. Honestly, it is a blessing to get these types of comments once in a while. I feel strongly that I should share about our family's ups and downs-- and how we manage to keep our family unit strong. Being part of a large family is such a privilege and through all of our smiles and trials, I am glad you can see that!

Kelli said...
Hey Christine, whats the best way to explain to young children about not staring or talking when someone has a visible disability. I trust you have the right answer and my little ones see me looking at Dennis all the time and think he has an owie.

If I overhear a child commenting about Dennis, I usually take it upon myself to go up to them with Dennis and let them know that Dennis is okay and that he is not in any pain. I encourage them to ask questions rather than stare and wonder about him. I let them know that even though he looks different, he is just like them. I joke and tell them that he can even give them a high five! I usually plant a few big kisses around his whole face to show them how much he is loved. Kids usually find this explanation to be sufficient. It is rare that a child will continue to be rude---- usually I assume that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

me and my son said...
I'm not a complainer, and I love reading your blog, but what is with the music today? I never thought I'd hear (or my son) the N word here.Dennis does look very good, We've been praying for you all.

I apologize for that music. I didn't realize that the N word was in it until you pointed it out. Afterall, it is sung by an African-American. I changed the music temporarily when I posted about a very rude commenter. I played the song because this poster seems to be living her life with the wrong values by the way she was bashing me, adoptive children, and letting me know that my life was going to hell in a hand basket because I was chasing the wrong things. I thought the song was appropriate by the words that I heard and it wasn't until you pointed out the lyrics that I realized it was not. I am sorry.

Trouwbottom said...
Christine I am so touched by your heart! You truly have a gift from God when it comes to adoption disruption and it is great that you are following God's call! Welcome to the "I'm old enough to have a high schooler" club!!!!

Thank you! I'll be in the club for at least a decade or two! As far as continuing to help adoptive families who are having a hard time--- if there continues to be a need for this, I will continue to help out.

Expat Mom said...
You know, I think a lot of boys think jumping out of planes without a parachute is cool. Unless William is actually DOING dangerous stuff, it might be good to encourage him to talk about it. Let him know that talking about stuff is fine, but that you would really be sad if he actually did it. You are doing such a great job with your kids. Anyone who thinks you don`t have time for them really should take a good look at your blog, I don`t see ANY signs that your kids are missing out on parental interaction!

Since I will be spending alot of time with William for the next two days because he has the chicken pox, I think I will take the opportunity to talk with him about his fascination with doing dangerous things. Thanks for reminding me that alot of boys like to do daring things! Did I mention that now William wants to jump over twenty buses with a motorcycle?

Anonymous said...
Hi Christine!This is my first time to comment, after being a long time reader! I love your beautiful family. Thank you so much for sharing your adventures with us. I just wanted to let you know that one of our children (a. from Russia with bilateral complete cleft lip and palate) had a very difficult time sleeping after his repair. No infections or pain, but we were told that it sometimes takes a few weeks to get all of the anesthesia out of their systems after surgery. Maybe Dennis is experiencing something similar. He looks incredible... and just wait a few more months! I was heartsick before my son's surgery (not wanting to "lose" his beautiful smile). It is amazing to look back two years later at the amazing things God has done through skilled surgeons. Enjoy the blessings of spring...

This makes a lot of sense to me. It was really comforting to read that our situation with Dennis is not unique. Glad to hear your son is doing so well!

andrea said...
without the fire, the dessert may not have been as memorable, right? it does look very yummy! I press a shortbread dough base as my fruit pizza crust, what kind on cookie base was yours? looks amazing!i think my kids could eat all day and everything in sight! very cure pictures!

I cheated and used ready made sugar cookie dough from the refrigerated section in the grocery store. I bet your crust was way better!

Jill said...
Oh Christine...sorry about the mess and I am glad the chowder turned out...but I HAVE to say...Cauliflower and Cod?? Oh dear!

Yes, the combination was very tasty-- and I don't normally eat fish. The recipe also called for cream cheese which made it nice and rich. I omitted the Parsley because I didn't have any.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Here One Day, Gone the Next": Hi Christine. Anna DOES look taller to me too! Glad to know the medication is working. By the way, I wanted to let you know that I have been praying more ever since I found your blog. I want to learn more about Christianity. Take care!Katie (who used to be prochoice, do you remember? :)

Hi Katie! I think you're right! It looks like Anna is growing! At least her hair is! I am so excited to hear about your relationship with our Heavenly Father. Growing in your faith is a lifelong journey, believe me I know. One thing I can promise is that He will always be there for you and desires for you to spill your heart out to Him. Just let it all out! You will feel a burden lifted off your shoulders and besides-- He already knows! If you ever want to talk offline, please drop me a private email.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Here One Day, Gone the Next

How was your weekend? Ours was pretty good, but the time change really through us for a loop. We went to bed an hour earlier but still couldn't make it to the 8:00 am church service. Same thing last night. We went to bed earlier than usual only to wake up 2o minutes late. So unlike me... so unlike our whole family. Hope we get our act together soon.
When I finished my two weeks of dieting, I was down a solid 10 pounds! I took a few days off eating more carbs than I should have-- but they were healthy ones if that counts for anything.

I altered a recipe for homemade granola which I splurged on. It is sweetened with grape jelly and applesauce and has tons of coconut and nuts and dried fruit. Very yummy!

I also altered a chocolate chip cookie recipe and came up with this super healthy version. And guess what??? The kids ate them and Rachel loved them! Can you see my spatula? Sveta accidentally chipped it when we dropped it on the floor the other day. Still, I just can't force myself to throw it away. It still works. Why waste money? It is just going to help fill up a landfill, right? So, I'm keeping it.

Anna thought it would be fun to wear this step counter. Daddy has one through work as part of a fitness plan. She tried to see how high she could get the count. Is it just me or is she looking taller already?

Adam has been home with me because of his chicken pox. That means helping me around the house a little more than normal. Thankfully no one else has gotten it so far. I know that could still change because it takes a while for the virus to incubate, but I am hopeful.

The girls picked oranges from a friend's house over the weekend. Look how big this one was! Rachel peeled it in the car and we all ate it!

Julia had fun with her orange.

I had waited to post this in hopes that she might be found, but our lovely Rosie has run away. She was gone as fast as we got her. Sveta and Annalyn took it the hardest. We have been praying that a wonderful family has taken her in and is feeding and loving her. This brings the girls some comfort, but they are still looking for her. As far as comparing getting an animal to getting a child, I was not trying to make the comparison. It is just that with a few of my daughters they need every example when given the opportunity for them to learn that a commitment is something that is permanent and not something that someone should change their mind about. If Alexsey was allergic to the cat, we would take every procaution to keep him healthy. Caleb and John are allergic already and that is why we don't allow our animals to live in the house.
Dennis really enjoyed his bath last night. The swelling in his face is gone and he is looking and feeling like his old self.

Here is my little snug-bug after his bath!
Dennis is back to running around and staying busy! Don't worry about our trooper--- your prayers continue to heal him Godspeed!
Oh, and in case you are not following our adoption blog, go take a peek over there. I found some old pictures of the little boy we are hoping to adopt. He is just too cute!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

He's Home!

Dennis is home!
Wednesday morning I got a call asking if the surgery could be moved up. I said sure, and left 40 minutes earlier than originally planned. They rushed us through admissions.

Here we are on our way to day surgery. Dennis loved riding in the wagon.

Everything was cleared for him to have surgery and while we waited for the Anaesthesiologist to come, Dennis played in the toy car.

After his cocktail of Tylenol and Versed, I thought he was too intoxicated to drive, so I held him instead.

At 9:40 am, I handed him off to the surgery nurse that would be attending the operation. I had no idea what to expect at that point, so all I could do was trust in the Lord..... and wait.

I got hourly updates, and at 3:15 pm, the surgeon came out and said he was done.

I got to see my little guy a while later after they got his vomiting under control.

When I saw him, I cried tears of joy! The large open eye was gone!

This surgery was very hard on Dennis so the surgeon decided to wait until March 24 to do the other side of his face. They prepared me for the possibility that he may have needed a blood transfusion, but all of those prayers took care of that!

Once his SATs stayed above 95, they wheeled us to a room. I had them exchange his crib for a bed where I could lay next to him for the rest of our visit.

The area that is covered by a sponge would not close because there was not enough skin, so they took a skin graft from behind his right ear. This sponge will be changed during his next surgery in three weeks.

Dennis was in a lot of pain so I had the doctor change his prescription so that he could receive Morphine every two hours instead of every four. He slept through the night next to me, and I woke up as the surgeon gently tapped my shoulder. I asked all of my questions...... and the outlook is pretty darn good. He thinks Dennis' eye will eventually support a glass eye. Praise the Lord!

Dennis finally ate something this morning and we were discharged by 9:40am.

I think he looks pretty fantastic for just having major surgery. Don't you?
Thank you for all of your prayers. They were answered....... just look at him!
On another note, please pray for Adam and our whole house........... he has the chicken pox. And what is most boggling is that he had the varicella vaccine as a baby and broke out with a mild case back then.