Friday, March 28, 2014

Over Spring Break

One of my greatest desires outside of each of my children having a deep relationship with God, is to have a close relationship with one another.  Ministry begins in the home with love, patience, and forgiveness.  Deliberately pursuing friendships with each other beyond "merely" being siblings is a continual message I give to my children. 
It's not always easy, so it warms my heart when I see my kids hanging out together just because.
Here is Julia and Jonny hanging out. 
After 4 visits to the doctor, Andrew is over his periorbital cellulitis.   So thankful that he made such a speedy recovery.  He is back to his "spunky" self.
Actually, he is on his way up to visit Grandma and Grandpa for the weekend along with five of the other kids.   And my Mom took Anna, Sveta, and Anastasia to spend a few days with her and my Aunt Tanya. 
It will certainly be quieter around here for the next day or two.
And isn't that funny?  With nine of the kids gone, the house feels empty-- even with eight kids here.
The boys are spending a lot of their time skateboarding.  Caleb is even talking about building a second half pipe.  The kids that aren't skating like to open this window in the living room to watch.
Last night we made vegan ribs.  You can find the recipe here.  We have been eating and cooking all different kinds of beans, breads, and vegetables so I thought it would be fun to try something new.  We served creamed corn, rice pilaf, and a salad made with kale, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cranberries, and pepitas.
I am proud to say that every person at the dinner table last night tried the ribs.  A few of the kids went back for seconds and two of them ate five or six ribs each.
However, they weren't that great, so I doubt we will be making them again.  I will however be making this mac and cheese recipe again.
I almost forgot to mention that I made homemade coconut bars that are dairy free.  They were a huge hit!  I mixed up a can of coconut milk with almond milk and a little vanilla and sugar.  I threw in some shredded coconut too.
The end result was delicious!
A few of us have been under the weather over here.  Nothing big, just allergies and cold symptoms that have been lasting a few days for each person, so I am thankful for that.  Out of all of us, poor Oliver has had the stuffiest nose.  Deliberating whether or not to take him to the doctor, I finally gave him a saline rinse to see if it might make a difference.  Having just had a course of antibiotics a little over a month ago, I don't want to start him on another course if it is not necessary.  Within a minute of giving him the saline drops, he sneezed.  It was one huge sneeze as you can see by the evidence on my shirt. 
Since this giant sneeze, Oliver has been able to breathe so much better.   Yay!
Our house is filled with music throughout the day.  I feel pretty lucky.
Caleb and Oliver took a nice afternoon nap on the couch.
I told you it was quiet.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Pizza Night

Friday, March 21, 2014

Thursday, March 20, 2014

More than a Sinus Infection

Last night was a strange one.   Though Andrew was in much less pain, his eye continued to swell.  He got up a few times in the middle of the night crying about the odd sensation he was feeling in his eye.  Come morning, he didn't look much better though his headaches were gone.  He was running a fever again and his eye and forehead were painful with even the lightest touch.  I gave him some Benadryl per the doctor's orders and nearly freaked out because of how loopy he was acting.  I decided that we had to go back to urgent care right then and there.  They saw us immediately and said that Andrew had periorbital cellulitis on top of the sinus infection.  Andrew winced when the nurse swiped the thermometer across his forehead.  The antibiotics they had first prescribed were not strong enough to fight this onset of cellulitis so they gave him a high dose shot in the rump and prescribed  Cefdinir and Bactrim.

We were told that if Andrew did not show drastic improvement by the end of the evening, I would have to take him to the ER to have IV antibiotics.  Not only would the pain have to go away, but the swelling had to come down some as well as his fever.
Fast forward to now--
Praise God!
The pain is much better.
And Andrew is able to open his eye a little bit.
He hasn't had a fever since noon.
He has not needed any pain/fever reducing meds since 11 am.
His spirits are high.
He is encouraged that he is finally on the road to recovery.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

No Fun Sinus Infection

Andrew had a very rough night.  He was up every few hours and eventually vomited because of taking meds on a virtually empty stomach.  I got him to eat some cold cereal around 2 am and by 3 he had finally dozed off.  This is how he looks today-- but overall he is feeling better.  His right eye is nearly swollen shut and his forehead is very swollen above his eyebrow but he is not in excruciating pain.  He is blowing his nose a lot less too-- a good sign that the antibiotics are working.
Thank you for your prayers. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

He is Sleeping Now

Adam and Caleb are my two oldest sons.   It's cool to see that they aren't too old for skate boarding. 

The other day I motivated the kids to help out with yard work by promising pizza for dinner.  Let's just say, it was a productive hour.  Zinnia seeds were planted, weeds were pulled, the garden was tilled, and the trees were watered.  Then it was play time.  The kids even went swimming in the heated pool down at the clubhouse.
Andrew has had allergies along with many of the other kids for the past two weeks.  However, yesterday around noon, he came to me crying that the right side above his eye was throbbing.  He said the pain was horrible-- a 10 on a pain scale.  I gave him some Tylenol but the pain never went away completely.  I kept alternating between Tylenol and Motrin but the pain only came down a little bit.  Last night he came to me in tears a few times.  After giving him more medicine, I hoped he would be better in the morning.  He wasn't.  I had to take Annalyn and Julia for their CAHSEE testing but I wanted to get Andrew into Urgent Care as soon as possible.  I suspected a sinus infection.  I was able to coordinate with John so that he could come home and take Andrew while I took the girls.
Andrew had a very rough afternoon, but he is finally sleeping next to me.
He is on antibiotics and pain/fever reducing meds.
Bless his heart.

Monday, March 17, 2014

It's Spring and the Kids are Blossoming

Happy St. Patrick's Day! 
Adam came into the kitchen announcing it. I didn't know until right then. 
He proceeded to walk around the table where we were all working, pinching us if we weren't wearing green.
Do green eyes count?
Dennis, Alex, and Nolan have taken a big brother interest in Oliver-- more so than before.
"Oliver wants some water."
"Can I get Oliver some Cheerios?"
"I think Oliver is done with that."
"Can Oliver go outside with us?"
"Oliver wants to watch Veggie Tales."
It really warms my heart to see all of their relationships blooming.  They not only have taken him under their wings, but they also play with him much more.  Oliver will play swords with them.  He will also sit and "pretend" to play the Wii with a controller in his hand. 
Jonny lost one of his molars.  Thankfully, I saw the tooth fairy visit him just as I was waking him up for school this morning.
We continue to eat mostly vegetarian, however, I am slowly cooking up the meat that is still in the deep freeze.  I cooked up nearly seven pounds of hamburger into cotlyeti and split it up into three meals.  The kids love them so much that we would normally eat all of them in one meal, but with more veggies on our plate, I was able to stick 2/3 of the cutlets into the freezer for later meals.
William doesn't really care for them, so I suggested that he take some of the meat before I mix it up and set it aside to make a burger.  He was so excited!  He learned to shape and fry up his own burger. 
The kids are all into playing the Cat's Cradle, and Jacob's Ladder.


John took eleven of the kids to the skateboard park over the weekend.  Uncle Jack joined them.  It was a hot day, so when the ice-cream truck went by he surprised them all with treats.  Nolan picked one out that left his whole face dyed blue! 
We are so proud of Caleb!  As you know he was accepted into UCR-- but that was pretty much all we knew.  He attended an event there recently- and was really pumped up.  He isn't 100% sure it is the college he will choose, but he is definitely leaning that way.  This past week he found out that he can change his major from mechanical to computer engineering.  That's a plus.  He was also awarded the Highlander Scholarship which is $2000 each year.  That's another plus.
Can't wait to see what he decides.
Adam is finishing up his second quarter of college this week.  One of his finals was on Saturday.  He thinks he did well. :)
Three of the girls are taking the CAHSEE this week.  Then next week is Spring Break.
Speaking of Spring Break, Andrew was running a fever one day last week.
In all seriousness he asked me, "Have you heard of Spring Fever, Mom?  Do you think I have it?"
Last night I went to the store with Rachel, Anna, and Galina.  As I was walking down the shoe aisle looking for a pair of sandals for Oliver, I heard Rachel say, "My daughter is not going to wear shoes like this."  She showed me a pair of toddler, gold, high heeled sandals.
As we continued to shop, Rachel told me that her daughter is not going to wear make-up or date until she is eighteen.
It's funny how now that she is older, she is beginning to think differently.
Funny how, I am still asking her to tone down her make-up, yet her daughter will not be allowed.
It made for an interesting conversation.
As we passed the underwear and bra area, Rachel told me that life was so much easier back when I just picked out and bought all of the girls' bras for them.
I asked, "Easier for who?" ;)
On the way home, I had Rachel drive the big van.
For old time's sake, she bought a bag of Hershey chocolates and I unwrapped one and popped it into her mouth.  All the while, Anna was in the seat behind me reaching over for the bag on the middle console.  "Please give me one Mom."  "Give you what?" I teased as I watched her reach for about a minute.
Galina was content eating her Nerds.
Who knew a shopping trip at nine o'clock at night could be so fun?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Warmer Weather

The sun is out. The weather is warmer. The trees have leaves on them.   And that means that the kids are itching to be outside.  Every time I turn around, they are outside.
Since John took them to a few new skate parks in neighboring cities, the kids have gotten back into skate boarding.  For the first time, Paul is able to drop down into the ramp that we have here at home.
Way to go Paul!
Cousin Matt is here for a visit.  The kids sure enjoy it when he is here.
I will often find Galina bouncing around a volley ball.
The boys enjoy their time they get to play the Wii.  As soon as the whining starts though, it gets turned off.  They got in fifteen good minutes. ~~smiling.
Alex and Oliver have been like two peas in a pod lately.  When that happens, I can usually find Nolan and Dennis playing together more.  It's pretty neat how that happens.
Our dossier has made it safely to the country we are adopting from.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Amazing Generosity for Natalie Kay

 Three years ago I was asked to speak at a local mother's group.  New to the area, I figured this would be a way to not only share my passion of adoption, but to meet other moms.  Vanessa who is in the red, happened to come to the meeting for the first time when I happened to be speaking.  However, I know it was not just a casual happening, but an amazing plan for God to introduce us to each other.
  We met for coffee a few days later and have been friends ever since. 
One thing that I love about her is that though we are very different, we both share the same passion of caring for orphans.  Her and her husband David have always encouraged and supported us, so when I told her that we were adopting again, I had no doubt she would be excited for us.  That is what true friendship is all about.
What I did not know was that she came up with the idea of blessing our family by helping us fundraise.  She asked if she could help organize an adoption dinner and live auction to help bring our daughter home.
Completely humbled by her outpouring of love and generosity, we accepted.
Her desire was to raise at least $5000 towards our soon to be daughter's adoption costs.
Sunday, March 9th was the big day.
From the moment we set foot in the door and were greeted by warm smiling faces, we could tell by the detail and overall atmosphere that the evening was going to be a special one.  
How could it not be?
Obviously, we aren't the only ones that are excited for our daughter to come home!
 Since Vanessa was moved by Dennis' adoption video when she first watched it three years ago, we brought Dennis to the dinner.  We brought Adam because he is the oldest of the kids.  Julia was willing to speak about the time she traveled with us to adopt Alex.  During light conversation someone asked John why we didn't bring the all the kids.  He pointed to the 60 person maximum on the wall... enough said LOL.  Besides, my Mom was home with them.
The dinner was a delicious Mediterranean spread including chicken kebobs with garlic sauce, tabouli, falafel, pita bread, hummus, baba ganoush, salad, green olives, and so much more!  Dennis particularly liked the baklava for dessert.

 Here are the hosts, David and Vanessa.
 It was very touching to see so many people come to show their support.  It was wonderful getting the chance to meet new people.  It was fun talking with one of the guests who also came from a large family.  Another guest shared that she is originally from the same country as our soon to be daughter.
Everyone was so friendly.
The array of donations to be auctioned off were quite impressive.  Their presentation was just beautiful!  As I read each description of what was donated, it hit home that there are lots of people who do care for orphans.  My friend Vanessa went out of her way to talk to lots of people in the community about adoption and orphan care, and I rejoice that her message was so well received.  
Here are the donations that were live auctioned.

The donation for the gold canyon candles did not come in.  No biggie-- the auctioneer auctioned off the white gift bag.  "....this white plain bag just waiting to be personalized." 
It was fun to see it go for $30.

I had a blast watching the auction.  At the end, a bottle of champagne on ice was auctioned off.  The winner shared it at his table.  I thought that was cool.
As if the dinner and auction was not enough, we were graciously sent home with most of the leftovers.  For me, that meant not having to cook twice!
In the morning I got a phone call.
Vanessa was excited to share the grand total that was raised.
Drum roll please.....
Praise the Lord!
The adoption of Natalie Kay is fully funded!
Thank you to all who helped make this possible. 
 Every penny that has been given on her behalf is a generous love offering toward bringing her into our forever family.
Words cannot adequately express our appreciation.
Be blessed as you have blessed us.