Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Post Without a Name

I was so sad to hear about the passing of a sweet little orphan girl in Ukraine. Only six years old and she never knew the love of a family. She never got the chance to feel what it was like to be held and cuddled in her Mommy's arms. A senseless tragedy-- sweet little girl you are not forgotten.

Day and night I think about the precious children that are left to grow up alone.  How could I not?  I look at my own children and think about the day to day things they have that we often take for granted.  Something as simple as a fresh change of clothes... a teeth brushing... a kiss goodnight.  I can pick up the phone and get a same day doctor appointment for my kids when they are sick.  If there is something wrong with them we have access to good medical care.  We have the money to pay for co-pays and prescriptions and they don't have to go without. We have 24 hour pharmacies should they wake in the middle of the night and need medicine to reduce their fever.  Most orphans are not so lucky.   My eyes have been opened to the plight of these children and I cannot turn away and act like they do not exist.  Looking into the eyes of these children is like looking into the eyes of Jesus.  They are in orphanages all over the world, and they need love and hope--- a family! 

Matthew 25:40
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Just look at precious Colton.  Isn't he a doll?  He has the cutest chubby cheeks!  Just imagine the picture of him coming to life for real when he sees his Mama and Dada for the first time!

Here is Seth.  Oh my-- what an adorable little guy.  Seth is almost 2 years old.  His grant fund is currently at $0.  You can make a difference by donating a few dollars to help with his adoption costs.  Most adoptions cost around $25k so every little bit will help.
And look at Gary!  What a handsome young man.  I'm sure he would blossom in a family.  Who is going to give him that chance?
Gary 158 OD
These are just three little boys in need of a forever family.  It seems like a drop in the bucket when there are thousands of orphans that are available for adoption.  But for these three little boys, a family would mean the world to them.  Literally.   There are so many ways to help orphans if you are not able to adopt.  You can advocate for them, pray for them, and donate to their grant fund to help another family with the adoption costs.
For the most part, everyone is doing better... except me.  At a follow-up appointment for William the staff said I sounded very sick.  They urged me to go to the doctor.  I told them that I was okay (even though I was feeling worse) and that I would go if I began to run a fever.  When I wasn't looking one of the nurses came up behind me to take temperature.  It was 99.7.  So I went.  The doctor said I  had fluid in one ear and bronchitis.  He prescribed antibiotics along with other meds.  I am now in bed resting.  William is looking better though he still has white spots on the back of his throat.  He has been taking naps almost everyday and his left arm has a burning sensation since this past Sunday.  Of course I asked about a stroke, multiple sclerosis, nerve damage, and mono.  She also mentioned a few other things and we went to the lab with blood test orders in hand.  Please pray that everything comes back fine.  Oliver is doing so much better.  His breathing is back to normal. :)
Here is a few things about the kids.

So far Alex is having an amazing week!  I think it has to do with his birthday right around the corner since he is always talking about it and the presents that he wants.  However Rachel is convinced it is all her doing.  She says that every morning when she packs his lunch she says that if he promises to have good behavior she will pack him some hot Cheetos!  And Alex loves hot Cheetos!  I say whatever works!

Nolan's favorite thing to do these days is to look at all the grocery store ads.  He also likes when his brothers bring home book orders.  He can look at those things for 10 minutes at a time.  He is beginning to communicate more and more.  He can "What Mom", "Why", "More", "All done" and of course "No."  I'm sure he can say lots more, but the cough syrup I took has fogged my thoughts for now.

Paul, Anastasia, and Sveta are learning all about fractions.  They can reduce them and change them from mixed fractions to improper fractions and vice versa.  Paul struggles more than the girls but this is his first year of homeschool and wee basically had to start at the very beginning.  He is catching up so fast!

At softball practice tonight Galina, Anastasia, and Julia worked on sliding.  If not for them wearing sliders (thigh, hip, and bottom padding) they would have gotten bruised up.

We finally got rid of our old refrigerator that was a gift to us when we got married.  As long as it was plugged in and cold when the electric company came to pick it up they would haul it away and give us $35.  Not bad-- and it caused me to clean out the garage and finally plug in the newer fridge that my Mom gave us a few months ago.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Rachel's Dream Come True

After five years, it finally happened.  After many long talks, countless prayers, and vivid dreams, my daughter Rachel finally had her dream come true. 
For the longest time I had been telling her things like--
"It just isn't the right time yet."
"You two have been through so much."
"Maybe he isn't ready."
"Let God handle it."
"It may not happen for many more years."
"Keep praying and stay faithful that one day..."
Then it happened.
Rachel's biological brother Jacob texted her to see if they could get together.  At first it was only going to be a quick dinner, but after more talking and planning we opened up our home to Jacob and his girlfriend. 

The visit went a thousand times better than I could have imagined.  It was wonderful to see them together.  The two of them have grown so much these last few years-- emotionally and spiritually.  I stand in awe how the Lord can heal even the most broken relationships.
Praising God for new beginnings.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Getting Better

Oliver's breathing sounds a little more rested this evening.  Once again, I had to give his health back to the Lord because I can't heal him on my own.  Oliver has been working so hard these past few days for each breath, the little guy has hardly been able to keep his eyelids open.  Watching his labored breathing made me exhausted, so I can imagine how he must be feeling.  But like I said, his breathing is slower and deeper and stronger as I listen to him sleep now, that I feel a little more at peace.

William is on a slow road to recovery.  Thank you to all who asked about him.  He cultures tested positive for Strep but had been started on amoxicillin for a sinus infection before the Strep test came back.  I am so glad that he got this head start.  His throat doesn't hurt anymore and his fever is long gone, but like me, he has this lingering cough.  We are told it could it could last for a few weeks.

Caleb is doing great!  His double ear infection feels like it's gone even though he still has a few days of antibiotics left.

With Oliver being down with sickness, it has forced me to slow down too.  I actually sat down and watched a movie with the kids-- something I haven't done in a while.

Tonight Oliver laid his head down on Nolan's chest while Nolan was laying down on the floor watching the movie.  Rather than push him off, Nolan actually cradled Oliver's head and rubbed it sweetly.  It melted my heart how tender Nolan was with his baby brother.

Last night Rachel's oldest biological brother and his girlfriend came for a visit.  This is a huge answer to prayer-- and the visit went wonderfully.  I'll post pictures when I get the chance.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

For A Season

The last few days have been very hard. Actually since the day I came home from the Mom's retreat, I have been going nonstop.  William was not doing any better, and Caleb was running a fever.  And our dog Dolly had very swollen anal glands... again, which I felt needed to be taken care of at the vet.  I took William to the doctor that evening and they suspected either pneumonia or strep throat.  They started him on a second antibiotic.  Poor guy-- his cough was nonstop and he looked miserable.  The next morning I took him for a chest x-ray, took Dolly to the vet, and came home to make Caleb and Oliver an appointment with the doctor for later that evening.  Yes-- Oliver was running a temperature again and was cranky and lethargic.  I knew that Caleb had an ear infection and I figured that Oliver's had come back.  Caleb actually had a double ear infection which though surprising was not that big of a deal given that it could easily be managed with antibiotics.  What concerned me way more was Oliver's diagnosis.  The doctor said his lungs sounded like he had pneumonia and she wanted me to take him to the ER where he would most likely be admitted.  When I heard this, my heart dropped.
Before I could take him to the ER I had to drive to the pharmacy across town that was open till 10pm to pick up Caleb's prescription.  Once there I found that  they changed their hours and actually closed at 9pm.  Since it was only 9:05pm I knocked on the door and begged them to fill Caleb's prescription.  With a sigh of relief, they did.  On the way home to drop him off before taking Oliver to ER, I began to have what I believe was a panic attack.  My chest was very tight like it was being crushed by a ton of bricks and my stomach was in knots and I had to purposefully take deep breaths in order to overcome it.
In that moment, I realized that I was carrying the weight of Oliver's sickness on my shoulders.  As if, it was something only I could take care of.  As if, I loved him more than God.  I praise God that at that moment, He drew me to him and I called on Him to carry this burden for me.  Of course He did.
I dropped Caleb off and headed to ER.  John with the kids driving home from BSF and I crossed paths in the pouring rain. 
Four hours, a chest x-ray, and a breathing treatment later I was able to take Oliver home.
The ER doctor sent us home with only a prescription for albuterol to be used with a nebulizer.  I didn't feel like this was enough.
In the morning I called to get Oliver back in to see the doctor.  With an actual x-ray confirming pneumonia that by the grace of God we caught very early-- the doctor gave Oliver a steroid shot and an antibiotic shot and sent us home with prescriptions for more of the same to start the following day.  The key word here is home.  Oliver got to go home.  Praise God.
Oliver is getting better now hour by hour.  He is tolerating his breathing treatments most of the time.  In all honesty, I actually prefer when he is crying during a breathing treatment because then I know he is getting deep breaths of the albuterol. 
The last few days I have gotten very little sleep.  But I am so thankful that Oliver is home and not at the hospital so really, I am not complaining.  The hospital is full of germs and he absolutely hates all things medically related so I know that he would not do well there. 
For now, I feel like we are in a season of sickness.  It seems as if it has been one thing after the other.  Most humbling since this is not a season I would ever wish to go through.  I find myself turning to God for every little thing right now so despite the challenges there is this blessing of intimacy with my loving Father.  I am constantly reminded of his love and the precious gift of life as I look at Oliver's little chest moving up and down with each breath.
Here are pictures from a few days ago.
The kids filled out Valentine cards.  Nolan can almost write his complete name.  I just wish the teachers at his school would spell his name right.  They spell it with an E instead of an A.  Ugh-- at least he seems to know how he needs to spell it.
Alex loved filling out his Valentines too.
Rachel loves to fry bacon.  It is her favorite food!
Galina wanted to go short with her hair.  We were both happy with the end result.  She looks so pretty!
After her haircut, I gave Adam one.  The blades on the Robocut were dull so I used the cutting shears on Adam.  We both thought the spacer was an appropriate length so I began to buzz his hair. Immediately after the first run down his head, I knew it was too short.   Thankfully he was a very good sport about it.  Check out Julia's jersey.  John ordered it months ago for her birthday and it finally came in a few days ago.  She really likes Buster Posey with the Giants.
Alex, Dennis, and Nolan had so much fun going through their Valentine cards.  They spent hours going through all the cards and candy.  Though it has been a week since Valentine's Day, I remember it very well because Dennis had a horrible meltdown.  I'm talking extreme.  Since this is out of character for him, both John and I think it had everything to do with all the sugar from the candy.  Since then he has had very little candy... a piece here and there... and he has been fine.
For the Mom's retreat Julia finished up this hat for me.  I thought it would be cold and overcast at the beach and I would wear it all the time-- but it was just the opposite.  Still, I love it!
The kids have had the week off.  At first I wasn't thrilled about it, but I realize now that with all the Oliver stuff going on, it was a blessing in disguise.
Alex and Nolan ate oranges for their snack. 
Anastasia used glitter puffy paint to draw this lovely picture.
Tonight Caleb made dinner.  Last night Adam made tacos and burritos.  I am very thankful for my kids stepping up to help.  It is a huge blessing. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Mom's Retreat

Well I am on the Mom's retreat.   All is going wonderful... finally.  Let me explain.  On Valentine's Day I woke up with the worst UTI and rushed over to Urgent Care.  They gave me two meds-- an antibiotic and a numbing pain reliever-- and I began to feel better.  Friday morning I realized that William was too sick for me to feel comfortable leaving for the weekend so I walked him into our doctor's office after dropping off something at the lab downstairs.  Thankfully they took us as a walk in and though William tested negative for the flu and strep they gave him antibiotics for a sinus infection.  Finally at 11 am my friend Amanda and I said good-bye and headed off for our retreat on the beach.
On the way we saw this truck.  This pic's for you John.
I had to stop for the bathroom and we ended up at this Tommys in Monrovia. 
This pic's for you Mom.
We both got the chili fries.  I ate mine with ketchup.  This pic's for you Julia!
We got to the beach house around 3pm.  The weather cold not be more gorgeous. 
The first night we stayed up after midnight talking and laughing.
Stop that Debbie!
There were eight of us Moms in all.  Claudette, Holly, Sheri, Debbie, Amanda, Annie, and Pam who took the picture.
Pam and Annie relaxing on the balcony.
Saturday morning I took a shower.  I knew the shower door was hard to close but I had no idea I would get stuck in the shower.  Thankfully I hadn't locked the bathroom door so after my screams were finally heard over the girls talking, they were able to rescue me.  We went to a restaurant on Saturday night.  By then I was feeling awful again from my UTI.  Though I was served this wonderful bruschetta, I was in too much pain to really enjoy the evening.  After some brainstorming I called the Urgent Care back home and got them to fax over a new prescription for a different antibiotic to a pharmacy open 24 hours.  Yay-- finally relief!
Here is Holly and Pam.
Here I am with Sheri faking a smile through my pain.  Sheri looks great!
Here is Annie who came all the way from Michigan with Amanda.
Here is all of us at the restaurant.
This retreat was just what the doctor ordered for all of us.  It was so amazing to get to know these women and hear their stories.  Finally we got to spend time with each other in real life rather than through just FB and blogging.  Though we are still here-- we are already thinking about next time.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

One Picture

Caleb went to Taylar's winter formal.   Aren't they a cute couple?

Tonight I took Oliver back to the doctor for his third antibiotic shot.  He has been getting progressively better since the first one, but his ear is still a little red.  At least he is back to sleeping through the night. 
So am I.
In addition to the doctor appointment,
Andrew had a school program, and the girls had softball practice.
Still managed to make a wonderful dinner, though for the first time in a long time, we didn't all sit down together to eat.  My new favorite thing to do is boil a bunch of chicken drumsticks on the stove for a few hours till the meat is nearly falling off the bone.  I then strain the broth for soup and debone the chicken to serve in casseroles, alongside rice, or by itself with some barbecue sauce.  It is so good-- way better than chicken breasts and 1/2 the price.
Today during devotional time, we watched The Butterfly Circus.
“The greater the struggle, the more glorious the triumph”
Take a moment to watch this 22 minute short film.

Monday, February 11, 2013


Oliver has been keeping me up at night.  Since Friday he has been one cranky, clingy, baby.  Miserable comes to mind.  He barely wants to eat, won't try anything new like a sippy cup or chicken noodle soup, and insists on being held.  All. the. time.  He has been a fighting champ when I give him his meds to bring his fever down that at one point I began to think that perhaps he had aspirated.  Gagging, spitting, moving his head, screaming, crying-- you name it-- I didn't know he had it in him to be so feisty.  At night is the worst.  I listen to his every breath... every sputter... every move... and probably get up with him at least a dozen times.  John was on a business trip last night and Oliver was so bad that I actually held him while I tried to go to the bathroom because he kept crying.  Sickness has been running through our home and I have seen kids get better just as new ones are getting sick, but something seemed different with Oliver. 

I called the doctor today and begged for an appointment and they got us in.  If not, I would have taken him to urgent care.  Honestly, something had to give as I don't think I could do a 4th night of no sleep.  Neither could he, bless his little heart.  To my surprise Oliver has an ear infection.  With no ear pulling I had just assumed that he had what the other kids had.  Poor baby, and yet I am so thankful that his lungs sound great and it isn't something more serious.  They swabbed him for the flu and I got another surprise-- he doesn't have the flu meaning that probably none of the kids at home have it either.

The doctor put my mind at ease. 

Since Oliver will not take any meds by mouth the doctor gave him an antibiotic shot and prescribed Tylenol suppositories.  Fast forward five hours and he is finally sleeping.... soundly.

I would blog more, but I am going to take advantage of this time and catch up on some much needed sleep.

This whole experience is a gentle reminder that even after 18 years of being a Mom, I still have so much to learn. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Being 11 Isn't That Different From Being 10

Happy Birthday to our amazing son Andrew!  I can't believe he is already eleven years old.
So inquisitive, so tenderhearted, so amazingly smart-- we are blessed to have him as our son.
Unfortunately his birthday fell on a weekend where many of his siblings are very sick with the flu.  It is hard to plan any sort of birthday bash but we made the best of the situation and he was very happy and thankful.
On Saturday afternoon John took Andrew and the boys to see Wreck It Ralph.  While they were gone us girls made homemade chocolate cookies dipped in chocolate that taste just like thin mints minus the mint.  It was what he requested.  He also asked for Jack in the Box tacos.  John called ahead and placed an order for 70 tacos and by the time he got there they were ready. 

John taught Andrew how to light a match and how to hold it correctly.  He tried to teach Jonny too, but Jonny didn't understand how to hold the flame above your fingers and he burned himself on one of them.  To top it off, Jonny was embarrassed so he downplayed his burn which delayed us getting ice on it by about 5 minutes.  Thankfully he's okay.

Andrew got a new jacket.  When I bought it I had no idea it had this see thru mask.  He loves it!
Andrew really wanted Heelys for his birthday.

I am so proud of this boy.  He makes me smile with all the questions he constantly asks.  I think that's why he is smart.  He is definitely one of a kind!
Happy Birthday!
P.S.  This morning Andrew told that yesterday he was ten and today he is eleven and he doesn't even feel any different.  :)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Boom-- Out of Nowhere!

Boom-- out of nowhere we have been hit with the sickies.   The girls went to softball practice last night feeling fine and came home sick.  It was very cold outside and soon Julia and Galina were running fevers.   Rachel isn't feeling so hot either.  And Annalyn's cough just reminded me of her cold.  As for the boys-- first it was Dennis when the school called for me to come get him and now it's Oliver.  On top of Dennis running a fever he also has a big shiner on his left eye from when he ran into a girl at school yesterday.
Here is Oliver asleep in my arms.  When he is sick all he wants to do is cuddle.
Today it snowed!  It was so pretty!  The kids had a lot of fun playing in it.  Sveta was so excited.  So was William.  He gathered all the snow off the trampoline in the wheelbarrow to make a snowman.  All was well until we came home from the store.  As the kids were unloading the car I found out that William threw a snowball over the neighbor's car as they pulled into the cul-de-sac.  Though he did not hit the car nor did he intend to, the neighbors were not pleased with the freak out.  Neither was I.  He had to write a one page apology letter before he could eat dinner.  Jonny, his accomplice had to write a letter too.
This picture is probably not what you think.  It was taken right after Oliver threw up all over my shoulder and hair.  He was resting now that he felt better.  Immediately I thought our family had the stomach flu but then I realized that his stomach was unsettled from taking Advil and then immediately eating afterward.   After he threw up he felt much better and hasn't thrown up since.
On the way to the store as it was pouring down rain, Rachel asked me where I thought the homeless people went in weather like this.   Then we got off the freeway and saw a man holding a sign.
This weekend is Andrew's birthday and up till dinner I had no idea what we were going to do.  Just like in true husband hero fashion, John not only came home yesterday and took the boys to their open house at school, but he also asked to take Andrew and the other kids to see Wreck It Ralph.  They are all excited! 
Tomorrow night is the Winter Formal.  Caleb is taking Taylar to her dance since they went to his last year.
Adam received news yesterday that he won a $2500 a year scholarship to a local UC that he was accepted into.
Praying this is the first of many.
Not this weekend, but next is the women's retreat.  It is right on the beach near Santa Barbara.  I am so excited!  It is not to late to find out more info.  Just leave a comment and I'll email you.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Julia's Family Captions~~ Annalyn

Julia makes everyone laugh with her picture captions. She picks out a family member and finds pictures of them over the past few years and makes up a funny story.  Today she is sharing one of them as my guest blogger.  It's all in fun, so hope you enjoy like we do.
Jackie Sparrow
Yep. It grew naturally.
Oh I feel like a babooshka!
Isn't this what everybody's riding these days??
You'll look just like me in a few years.
OMG! I'm starving!! It's 10:00 and I haven't eaten since 9:57.
My Two Best Friends
I'm so rockin.
No.  Now I'm rocking.
I got dinner. (In case you don't know, the bag contains a dead gopher. Hehe.)
I thought this day would never come. Oh wait..... it didn't. 
It smells good too. 
My Future Job :)