Fall 2013

Fall 2013

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Two Years Ago

At around 9:30pm on December 30, 2010, two very tired parents and one exhausted little girl arrived at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport. They had been traveling for nearly 24 hours. After clearing customs, they were greeted by two sets of grandparents eager to see their new granddaughter. At approximately 1am, those weary parents (who hadn't seen their home in six weeks) walked through the front door of their home with their sleeping daughter. And life at the Hansen house hasn't been the same since. Oh, how much joy that sweet girl brings to our lives! So thankful for the past two years!!

THEN (Christmas Day 2010)
 
 
NOW (Christmas Day 2012)

Catching Up

I know...I've been away from blogging for a little while. Haven't even been keeping up with my favorite blogs which is out of character for me. But, time with family (and trying to get through the holidays) have taken a higher priority. Over the next couple of days, I'm going to attempt to get the blog updated and may be back dating some entries including Christmas so you may want to check and see if there are new posts that you haven't seen yet (if you are so inclined -  lol).

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Matthew

Just a couple of cute things from Mr. Matthew...

In the bathroom of the restaurant where we had lunch - "Mom, I'm pooping so hard, I think my eyes are going to come out." I had to turn around so he wouldn't see me laughing on that one!

It's not hiccups - it's "piccups."

"Mom, you're the most beautiful girl. I want to marry you. But, it's just pretend."


Love that boy of mine who never fails to keep me on my toes!


Friday, December 28, 2012

Whew!

The stomach flu hit me Christmas night. Fortunately, I was scheduled for vacation for the rest of the week so I didn't have to worry about missing work. Unfortunately, I was planning on using the time to study for my gerontological nurse practitioner certification exam.
When I graduated from school, I decided to take the adult NP exam right away because that made me more marketable. I planned to take the gerontological exam within a few months. But with Maia's adoption, it just never happened. Well... the organization that offers the examination is making changes to the process. And if I didn't take the GNP test by the end of this year, I would have to take a combination exam (adult AND gerontological) in order to get my GNP. When I found this out last month, I figured I better bite the bullet and get it done with now.
Never expected that I would be doing my studying while my stomach was fighting with me. Not the best way to retain information - lol! God heard my prayers and by this morning, I was feeling better. Took the test and am proud to report that I passed my GNP certification exam. Who knows? Maybe when the kids get older, I may even consider going back for that doctorate.  Hmm... probably not likely, but I am no longer ruling it out.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas letter

Since I don't have addresses for all of you (and also because I didn't get cards sent to everyone I hoped to this year), here is our Christmas letter.

When I began to think about this year’s Christmas letter, the first thought that came to mind was “thank goodness 2012 is almost over. It’s a year that we will be glad to see end.” And yet as I began to write, God reminded me of the many blessings that He provided us with this year as well.

Maia’s shunt revision surgery in February started a journey that culminated with a prolonged seizure two days after Mother’s Day. A six week hospitalization followed because of a life-threatening infection in her brain and spinal fluid. Literally, people all over the world prayed for our warrior girl! It brings me to tears thinking about it even now. We were humbled and touched by the outpouring of support from our church, family, friends, and people we have never even met. While life looks different for Maia (and our family) than it did before May 15, we praise God for the progress she continues to make!

This year reinforced how thankful we are for family. During Maia’s hospitalization, Matthew enjoyed time with both sets of grandparents. How fortunate we were to have them love on our boy while Mark and I struggled to balance hospital and home life. A highlight of Matthew’s year was a puppy named Suki who lives at Grandmama and Grandpa Jerry’s! They have a wonderful time playing together. Matthew wasn’t exempt from the hospital, either. He had outpatient surgery the day after Maia got home so that I didn’t have to take any additional time off from work. But, he was quickly on the go again, eager to explore and have fun.

Matthew and Mark were able to help celebrate Mark’s grandma’s 101st birthday in August. Grandma died later this fall so our memories of time spent with her are even more precious. We miss her, but are so glad that she lived to see the kiddos come home and be part of our family!

We had a short visit from Melanie’s brother and sister-in-law, Jake and Krys, who live in Portland. This was their first opportunity to meet Matthew and Maia. Matthew is eager for the time when they visit again or we are able to travel to Oregon to see them. “Dyadya” and “tiotya” (Russian for uncle and aunt) are some of his favorite people.

The kids both attend pre-school: Maia in the mornings and Matthew in the afternoons. They have wonderful teachers who are absolutely committed to them. The kids are showing such progress as a result. No words can express how thankful I am for their caring and dedication.

Mark and I are fine. He remains at home with the kids and I continue to work as a nurse practitioner for Mayo. Life is crazy and chaotic as Christmas approaches. We are waiting to hear if our offer to buy a home on 2 acres of land will be accepted. It has a main floor bedroom for Maia and space for Matthew to burn off some energy. We trust that God knows where we will be next Christmas and that He has our best interest at heart.

  So as I look back over the past twelve months, 2012 looks nothing like I anticipated when writing last year’s cards. And while it was a difficult year on many levels, it is also a year that has taught us much about relying on our heavenly Father and rethinking what is important in our lives. It is a year that has showered us with many blessings and given us many reasons to give thanks and praise. We have much to celebrate this Christmas and pray that you do, too – most importantly, the greatest gift of all – the birth of the Christ child!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Please pray for Ethan

Would you please join me in praying for a little boy named Ethan who is fighting for his life right now?  You can read about him in his mom's blog here. I remember all too well those moments of praying that God would provide that miracle and save my child. Storm the gates of heaven with me for this kiddo who has endured more in his three years than most of us will endure in our entire lives.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Just time for a very quick post tonight, it's way past my bedtime and morning comes too quickly these days. But, I am thankful this Thursday...
  • For my loving hubby who drove me to work because the roads were horrible and he knows how much I hate driving in winter storms.
  • For my precious kiddos who are here with us and sleeping in their own beds tonight. I meant to do a longer post, but was looking at some old flash drive files of our adoption journey. How far they have come since their time at the detsky dom. Oh, I love my children!
  • For families who are working hard to bring their own kiddos home from orphanages and institutions around the world.
  • For a heavenly Father who blesses me with far more than I deserve!
Ok friends, surprise me - what are you thankful for today?

Monday, December 17, 2012

An early Christmas present

This morning, I got an early Christmas present! I was getting ready for work and playing with Matthew at the same time. I had heard Maia awake downstairs and called to see if she would come to the steps, but she didn't. So Matthew and I continued to play while I was in the bathroom. All of a sudden I heard a rattle at the child gate in the living room, came out to check, and found Miss Maia at the top of the steps! Did you hear me yelling "YAY, MAIA!!"? That was about the best Christmas present I could have received! You go, sweet girl - I am so proud of you!!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thankful Thursday - celebrating Miss Maia

Two years ago today, your daddy and I stood in a court room in Sevastopol, Ukraine asking a judge to approve our request to become your parents. God blessed us beyond measure when she said "yes!" It is hard to believe that 720 days have passed since you joined our family. In some ways, it seems like a short time and other ways, it feels as if you have been with us since birth. 

The past twenty four months have been a journey like none other. There have been moments of great joy and moments of immense sorrow. Through it all, you have shown such a strong spirit. You have amazed us and charmed us with your giggles, your hugs, your sweet personality. 

You are infinitely precious, sweet girl and we are so thankful that God chose you to be our daughter!
Happy adoption day, Maia Anastacia Hansen!!
WE LOVE YOU!!
 
Yep, that's cake and ice cream all over her face! Gotta have a little fun as we celebrate!
 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Family time

We've had a couple of nice days. Yesterday was my day off and I took Matthew to speech therapy in the morning. Mark and I decided a few weeks ago that we were going to try letting him work with Miss Becky while we waited in the lobby. So far, it seems to be going well. He was doing all right when one of us went in with him, but about 20 minutes in to the appointment, Matthew would decide that he wanted to get out of his chair and come over to where I (or Mark) was sitting. It was very difficult to keep him on task. I think we may have been more distraction than support.
After Matthew got out of school, we dropped some Christmas cookies off at several friends' houses and headed to town to get hair cuts for the guys. Enjoyed pizza and then drove out to look at an amazing Christmas light display. I have to admit, I was feeling a little emotional. On my cell phone, I have video from our trip last year. Looking at it last night, I could hear Maia talking in the background. How I miss her sweet voice. I glanced at the date of the video - it was a year ago to the day.
I took vacation time today and we headed to Minneapolis to check out a European market that I had heard about. They have mainly Russian items (appropriate since Sevastopol is pretty Russian in it's culture). It's a small little store, but wandering through the aisles brought back so many memories! The kind woman who was working was so interested in hearing about our kiddos. She had tears in her eyes when we left and asked us to come back for a visit even if we didn't come to shop. Burgers for lunch and then stopped to see one of Mark's friends on our way home. All in all, just good, low key family time.

Here's our goodies from the market. The kids are going to take some Russian treats to school to share with their classmates and we'll enjoy a few things as well. I was hoping to find the yummy ramen noodles we had while we were in Ukraine, but no luck. Oh, well.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Time flies!

How quickly days pass! The computer has been low on my priority list over the past couple weeks. I've checked in on blogs here and there, but that's really about it. I meant to get a thankful Thursday post done this past week, but it just didn't happen. I really thought the holiday season wouldn't be so crazy this year... I know, silly me!

So, what have we been up to since my last post? Let's see how my foggy memory does. Last weekend was our annual cookie bake. I think this was the 9th or 10th year (sorry mom, I can't remember). My mom and I invite friends for a day of holiday baking. We had such a nice time! Usually, the weather is rotten - this year, it was in the upper 40's and sunny, what a treat! 

Mark's mom decorating cookies

My friend Jo distributing the goodies

Maia was under the weather with a cold, but starting to improve last week. Then, Mark came down with the stomach flu. He was miserable. So thankful for my in-laws who came over to watch the kids while I was at work on Wednesday! They also helped clean out our lower level family room because we had carpet installers coming at 8:30am Thursday. Mark started feeling better and next, Matthew picked up Maia's cold. He felt pretty rotten on Thursday and Friday. 

Yesterday, we had breakfast with Santa. Matthew was excited to tell him exactly what he wanted for Christmas this year (a Buzz Lightyear toy that talks and has other sound effects or a Spiderman mask and hands that actually shoot spiderwebs). 


By the end of day, Maia was on round 2 of the rotten cold. She and I stayed home from church this morning so she could rest, although the stinker was having NONE of that - lol! Can tell that Matthew still isn't quite back to himself either, both kids are a bit more cranky than usual. The germs just keep circulating... so far, I've avoided the worst of the crud. But given how many times I was sneezed on and had my face coughed on today, I'm not optimistic that I'll hold out for long. 

Oh, I almost forgot the other potentially big news. We may have a move in our future. We've put in an offer on a house not too far from here with 2 acres of land and are waiting to hear if it will be accepted. It's a short sale, so has to go through the bank and the investor for approval. The house has a main floor bedroom for Maia which would be nice and space for Matthew to burn off some energy. Not sure when we will hear, but even if it is God's plan for us to stay in our present home, that's fine. So, that's what's happening around here for anyone who is still out there.  :-) 



Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thankful Thursday

To be honest, I'm feeling pretty sad today. Although I had never met Carla and her precious Henry, his death hits close to home. But, still there is reason to give thanks.
- Henry had 14 months with his forever family, being loved and cherished. Shouldn't every child know what that feels like?
- Carla and her family answered God's calling to travel around the world to bring their son home! So thankful for adoptive families who respond to His call to care for the orphan.
- Tonight and every night, I am thankful that God has allowed us more time with our sweet girl. Although heaven is a far better place than here on earth, Miss Maia makes this world a brighter place and I treasure my moments with her.
- I also treasure quiet moments with my Matthew. Last night, we cuddled up together while he fell asleep and what a gift to be able to watch his face, peaceful in sleep, and to be able to whisper in his ear "you are loved, my precious son, so loved!
- And last for tonight, I had the opportunity to see two beautiful friends today. Anne and MaryAnn, words cannot express how much it means to talk with you and laugh and be reassured that I am not the only mom who doesn't have it all together. Thank you. I love you both dearly!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Prayers please!

Looking back at yesterday's post, I can tell how tired I was. I did not even finish my train of thought. But, I will save that for another day.
Instead I ask for your prayers for another adoptive family whose 26 month old son (adopted from Ukraine 14 months ago) is in the arms of Jesus tonight. Henry was born with a condition called Larsen's syndrome and from what I understand, had complications from surgery. This feels so personal given how close we came to losing Maia earlier this year. My heart is aching for Carla and her family. Please pray for them.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dry spell

I know there has been kind of a dry spell in my blogging lately. I'm thankful for those of you who are checking in anyway. We are just living life. The past couple months have been challenging me to rely on God and His promise to uphold me with His right hand. I'm so thankful that He loves me even when I don't deserve it. Sometimes, I feel like parenthood brings out the worst in me. It definitely makes me aware of my less than stellar traits. Thankful that His parenting skills are much better than mine and that my Father's love is an example for me in parenting.
I know I keep saying this, but I really do hope to get back to regular blogging soon. There are a couple topics on my heart right now.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Attitude? Oh, my.... and some Thanksgiving pics

Yesterday was Friday. And the Friday night tradition at our house is pizza in the living room while watching a movie and cookies for dessert. Last week was the first time that Miss Maia fed herself pizza that I had cut up in small pieces for her, we were all pretty excited for our sweet girl. Last night, Maia ate her pizza all by herself again. I tried giving her a couple of pieces, but Maia wanted nothing to do with that. When it came time for dessert, I attempted to feed Maia. Ummm, NOPE! And when it was time for medication, Miss Maia let her displeasure show. Why?  Because she wanted to do those things for herself. The attitude and independence came through strong and clear - no question about it. Wouldn't take a bite unless she fed herself and even though she wasn't able to manage her medicine alone, Maia tried to take it herself. Love seeing that sense of determination come through!!

We spent Thanksgiving Day with my family.
Only one picture to share of the day... Maia with Grandpa Jerry.

 
I did remember my camera today when we went to Mark's parents to celebrate Thanksgiving with them, so here are some pics of the day.
 
Sweetie girl
 
Gavin sporting his new red cast
 
Betsy and Maia
 
Hmmm... maybe Scooter is ok after all.
 
My Ukranian princess
 
Getting some love from Papa
 
Matthew with his new best friend John
 


So blessed to be able to spend time with both of our families this weekend and thankful for them!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

So many thoughts come to mind on this Thanksgiving morning. There is a beautiful sunrise appearing behind the trees as I look out the window and I am thankful for the reminders of God's love that appear in our world every day if we just take the time to see them.

Friendship is always at the top of my list of things to thank God for and today is no different. We have been blessed with friends far and near who have encouraged us, supported and loved us as we traveled unexpected paths this year. A couple of bloggy friends have been special gifts from my Heavenly Father - Jane and Pat, you are dear to my heart!

Family is so important to Mark and me.  We are thankful for our families every.single.day! And to have family close enough to spend time with them today is wonderful!

Health is at the top of our list this year as well. After Maia's illness, we do not take health lightly. I am thankful for the progress that Maia has made over the past five months and that she has remained overall healthy since leaving the hospital in August. The health of our family and friends is also something we pray for and thank God for.

"Enough..." I am thankful that God has given us more than enough, more than I need or probably deserve. I often gripe about things that are so insignificant when in fact, God has given us an adundant life. So many people are struggling right now... unemployment, loss of loved ones, marital difficulties, depression, health issues. If any of you who read this are feeling adrift in life and alone, I am praying that God will wrap His arms around you right at this very moment. That you will feel the fullness of His love and mercies today.

And most of all, I am thankful for God. He sustains me, He cares for me, He is faithful, He is constant, and HE IS GOD!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Finding good in the midst of the challenges

I will be honest, I have not spent a great deal of time searching for the positive things that have come out of Maia's illness. I'm slowly learning to praise God in all situations, but it isn't always easy. Thankfully, my heavenly Father is patient with me, reminding me to stop and look for His blessings when things are difficult. Although I would never choose to live through the past six months again, God has given us a gift that we would likely not have experienced otherwise.

Maia's adjustment to life in our family went well overall. For Maia and me, bonding was not instantaneous, but occurred more gradually. Our trip back to Ukraine for Matthew's adoption was such a great opportunity to spend time together and strengthen our relationship. But, we still continued to see some of the effects of her years in the institution.

Maia's illness resulted in regression back to around the 6 month old level. And from an attachment and bonding standpoint, I think that has actually been beneficial - for all of us. Because she has been so dependent, Mark and I have had the opportunity to do some of those things that parents do when interacting with their infant children: snuggling, touch, eye contact, feeding, etc.

And I am praising God for this blessing! BTW... I think we are close to another word. "Kitty" or "kitty cat" may be Miss Maia's next word(s). WOOHOO!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday funnies

Need a giggle for your day? These might bring a smile to your face.

  • Last week at church, the congregation was singing a hymn. Matthew loves to "sing" along, making up the words as he goes. There was a brief interlude of music between verses during which Matthew entertained us with "Old McDonald!"
  • Today, we had a children's sermon. Pastor Mark asked the kids to tell him things that they were not very good at doing. Matthew's very loud response?  "Being QUIET!"
  • We spent the afternoon playing. Matthew was the knight, rescuing Maia the princess from the castle and the dragon (alternately played by Mark and I). When we weren't the dragon, Mark or I was the trusty horse. A fun time was had by all, although mom ended the day with a headache and very possible black eye as the fearless knight slayed the dragon for the last time.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Saturday night and I'm waiting for Mark and the kids to get home from Nana and Papa's house. It's nice to have a little bit of quiet to think about the past twenty-four hours and what I can take a way from the Hearts at Home conference.

Last night was "Mom's Night Out." The main portion of the evening was an comedy, improv group. 3 guys in a crowd of over 2700 women. I felt a bit bad for them as they asked for ideas for their show and were given suggestions related to breast feeding, bladder leakage after childbirth, etc. But, I can not remember the last time that I laughed so hard. My cheeks still hurt tonight. They were wonderful and such good sports!

This morning, our main session was by JimBob and Michelle Duggar of the 19 Kids and Counting Fame. Following that, I attended their breakout session for parenting tips. Now admittedly, I can't really relate to 19 kids... But, their ideas are not specific to big families. And they really made me think about how I interact with my own kiddos.

There were a couple of good sessions about finances and raising kids to be grateful/thoughtful in this era of consumerism. This also really changed my perspective on some of the things that we do without a second thought and gave me some motivation to change.

I think the biggest thing I came away with was just reassurance that I am not alone. In my day-to-day life, I often feel like other moms have it so much more together than I do. You know... the ones who make parenting look so easy. Perfect makeup and hair, perfect outfit, kids dressed adorably and behaving well. Me? I'm always looking frumpy, frazzled, and praying that the kids will not do something like wiping their nose on the person sitting next to them. Today, I was reassured that I am not the only one who collapses at the end of the day wondering how messed up my kids are going to be as a result of my less than perfect parenting. I'm not the only one who feels inadequate and sometimes alone in this journey. I was given the gift of fellowship with other Christian women whose desire is to serve the Lord while also serving their families. What a blessing!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thankful Thursday

- This weekend, I will be attending the Hearts at Home conference. I'm looking forward to fellowship with other Christian moms, time for renewal and rejuvenation, and the opportunity to hear amazing women like Michelle Dugger! Thankful for my hubby who encouraged me to go even though it means he doesn't get his usual weekend break from the kids.
- Thankful for Mark's cousin Janelle who told me about the conference. Attending last year was wonderful!
- Thankful for the opportunity to have lunch with my friend Jo today. Was fun to visit... It's been way too long!
- Thankful for the smiles on my kids' faces when I come home at night. And again, thankful for that wonderful hubby who fed them and got them ready for bed tonight because I was working late.
- Thankful for God's love and His promises. How blessed I am to be called His child!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Trust and hurray for our sweet girl!

This morning as I was reading my daily devotional (which I absolutely love - it is a gift from my dear friend Del!), God spoke very clearly to me. A little background...I have alluded to the fact that we are facing some challenges right now with Matthew. And I admit, I have a tendency to take his behavior personally. In rational moments, I know that it is a product of Matthew's time before joining our family - not directed towards Mark and I specifically. In my more frequent irrational moments, I struggle to remember that. And that is where my heavenly Father met me today.

When Maia was sick, I trusted God. There was never any question in my mind or my heart that He was in control. I knew that He held our sweet girl, cradled in His loving arms. That whatever happened, I would get through because of Him. I don't know why it was so easy for me to trust in those circumstances, but it was.  And I still trust. I trust that no matter what Maia's future looks like, God will give me the strength to handle it. He is God - He is able to do far more than anything I can imagine.

So this morning, God said to me, "You have trusted me completely with Maia. Why are you so unable to place that same trust in me when it comes to Matthew?" Wow - that stopped me in my tracks! And I was ashamed to admit that I had no answer for God. I've pondered that throughout the day and I still don't know how to answer. Perhaps, it's because I have no control over physical problems and I "get that," but feel like I should be able to maintain control over my child's behaviors and emotions. Ridiculous, isn't it? I recently saw a wall hanging that said, "If you have absolute control over your family, somewhere you have gone horribly wrong." How true is that! For those of you who have followed my blog for any length of time, you've heard me reference my need for control. Once again, God is reminding me that I am not in control of anyone but myself. And my responsibility is to love my children. To influence them, to mold them, and shape them into the people that God created them to be. It's not to force them to become the people I think they should be. We could all tell a dozen stories about how that doesn't work. God is asking me to trust Him with Matthew, just like I trust Him with Maia. If I allow Him to, God will sustain me in those difficult moments. He will give me strength when I feel like I can't go on one more minute. And my heavenly Father keeps reminding me of what He told me when we began the process to bring Matthew home. He very clearly spoke to me, "Matthew will be your greatest joy." I am guilty of assuming that this meant the road would be smooth sailing. Silly girl, I know. Welcome to parenthood! But God speaks those words to me just as clearly today as He did 18 months ago. And He is faithful. I make the conscious choice to place Matthew in God's hands and ask for wisdom in parenting this precious child that He has entrusted us with.

And... on to the "hurray!" 1-2 months ago, we would find Maia out of bed in the morning. What had likely happened was that she had rolled herself out of bed onto the cushions that we had placed beside the bed and then on to the floor. She didn't make any effort to get out of her room and then about a month ago, she quit trying to get out of bed. We would go to Maia's bedroom in the morning and she would be awake and sitting up in bed, but never out of bed. I was a bit discouraged at what felt like regression. Well... little miss thing surprised us this morning! I was getting ready for work and Mark went down to get Maia. A minute later, he called upstairs saying that I needed to come right away. Of course, I was concerned and hurried to the steps. What did I find? Miss Maia on the second step, working on crawling up. Yep, that's where dad found her.  She had got herself out of bed and made it to the steps with the intent of coming upstairs. This is HUGE progress! She still is unsteady and falls backward so we may have to put a gate at the bottom of the steps until she is a bit stronger. But, I am beyond thrilled and am praising God for Maia's initiative!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Off kilter and more appointments

Last week really threw me for a loop. I usually work on Wednesdays, but had taken the day off so that I could be home for Halloween stuff with the kids.

Maia had therapy in the afternoon and so after that was done, we headed to Nana and Papa's to get ready for trick-or-treating. She was already tired out from all the hard work of therapy. Matthew and Mark arrived after Matthew was done with school. We ended up hanging out with Nana and Papa for a couple of hours. Then, I had a visitation to attend. One of my dearest friends' mother died. I think she is the first one of my friends to lose a parent and it was a bit of a reality check for me. Anyway... after the visitation, we stopped at our friends Ken and Jeanne's house so the kids could trick-or-treat. By the time we got home, it was almost 7:30pm and Maia was wiped out so Mark put her to bed. Matthew and I headed out to see how much candy he could accumulate - lol! He made out pretty good given that we were only out for 45 minutes.

When I went back to work on Thursday, I kept thinking it was Wednesday and by the time I realized I missed Thankful Thursday, it was Friday morning. Work was crazy and I was ready for a break by the time 5:30pm came. The kids were tired from some late nights and Mark hadn't been sleeping well, so we were all ready for bed early. Enjoyed our usual Friday night pizza and movie. We had a yippee moment. Maia fed herself the small pieces of pizza that I cut up for her for the first time!! Now admittedly, she would have shoved them in her mouth one after the other if I had let her, but still... it's progress. I got her ready for bed and she and I laid down to cuddle while Mark and Matthew finished the movie. They joined Maia and me for a little family cuddle time. Next thing I knew, everyone was sound asleep in our bed - at the "late" hour of 9:15pm. We are indeed party animals - lol!!

Saturday was busy baking pies for our church bazaar and pie social. Mark worked on the motor home. He has been trying to repair a rotten wall. Unfortunately, he has found that the whole roof is rotten. Still going to try to salvage it so that we can use it at the cabin because that is the only way we have to shower since there is no running water. That evening, my friend Del came over and watched the kids so that Mark and I could have a date night. Again... we ran out of steam early and came home to bed. Kind of pitiful, really - lol!

Sunday, we enjoyed church. We missed last week because we were out of town and it seemed like forever since we had been there. Unfortunately, I totally forgot that it was Orphan Sunday until today. Hopefully, next year we will be able to do something at our church to share the plight of orphans around the world. It resonates deeply within me even though I don't shout about it like I probably should. Later in the afternoon, my god daughter Rachel interviewed me for her career class. It was fun to answer her questions and spend a little time actually thinking about different aspects of my job. I am so thankful God gave me the opportunity to serve the elderly, what a huge blessing!

And today back to work. Maia had appointments all day, literally! She started at 7am and was scheduled through 4pm. Fortunately, the 4pm appointment was able to squeeze in this morning, so she actually finished up around 4pm instead of 5p. Blood work and lots of urology testing this morning, as well as meeting with a different physical therapist. Maia's urology tests show that there has been no worsening of the reflux of urine back in to her kidneys. While we were hoping that this was improved, at least it is not worse. Her urine is currently free of bacteria and the Urologist said that the preventive antibiotic can be stopped for now. This is good news because I do worry about Maia becoming resistant to antibiotics. We've been concerned because she continues to have leakage between her scheduled catheterization. Dr. K recommended increasing the medication which softens her bladder walls, allowing it to hold more urine. I'm not excited about that due to side effects, but it is our only option. If things do not improve, we will have to consider surgery to enlarge Maia's bladder. Please pray that the medication works, we don't want to subject our sweet girl to another surgery unless it is absolutely necessary. So, the urology appointment was after lunch and following that was the appointment with our favorite Dr. S. Maia was not walking at the time of her last visit, so she was thrilled to see that progress. Dr. S was also very happy that Maia is vocalizing more sounds even though "no" is the only word we are hearing. Mark did ask about the possibility of starting fish oil for Maia. There are some studies showing that this may be beneficial in patients who have suffered brain injuries. And so even though Dr. S says it hasn't been confirmed, she is receptive to us trying this supplement for Maia. I'm excited about that!

That's most of what's happening in our world. Seems like we are so busy with appointments lately. I never imagined that we would be on the go so much when the kids were this young. I have no delusions that it will improve with time, though. My only hope is that somehow, I can become more organized and adept at dealing with all the chaos. Yep... I know, hope springs eternal!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trick or treat

Pretty sure that we only have treats at our house! 


And they are cute ones, too!

Transformer Matthew


 I could gobble this little M&M up so easily!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Keeping busy with the kids

Appointments for the kids have kept us on the run already this week. But thought I would just share a brief update on how things are going.

Maia - She saw the developmental pediatrician yesterday. Her evaluation was not unexpected, but still a bit sobering to hear. Dr. S last saw Maia earlier this year and was so pleased with how well she was doing. Her sadness over Maia's illness and loss of function was evident. She confirmed that Maia is functioning at around the 9-10 month old level. She's pleased with how far Maia has come since leaving the hospital, but isn't making any predictions about how much function Maia will regain. Dr. S plans to see Maia again in four months. 
Maia also saw Dr. D, the neurosurgeon yesterday afternoon. The surgical incisions have finally, almost healed. He is satisfied with her progress. We've been a bit concerned because Maia seems to be a bit more unsteady over the past week and not quite as strong. If we don't notice improvement over the next couple of weeks, she will have a short MRI just to make sure there are no issues with her shunt.
Today, Maia saw her regular pediatrician. We had requested the appointment because of the unsteadiness and feeling like Maia just hasn't been quite herself. She has been fighting a cold and Dr. A saw fluid behind her eardrums. Nothing concerning for infections, but it could certainly be affecting her balance.  We also met with a county social worker to see if there are any services that Maia might be eligible for and benefit from. Unfortunately, I think we may be in that "donut hole" of making too much to qualify for most services, but not enough that we can afford them on our own. Lots of paperwork to fill out, then wait to hear their determination.
Tomorrow, she will have therapy as usual and next week, some urology testing and appointments.

Matthew - He's been struggling a bit lately. I don't feel comfortable sharing a great deal at this point, but we are concerned that he may have some attachment issues. Given his "pre-Hansen" years, it certainly is understandable. Last week, I received an email from an adoptive mom who met both of our kiddos when she was adopting from their orphanage. This was a few months before Maia's adoption. She confirmed something I had suspected from the moment I met Matthew. Again, I don't want to get too specific, but bottom line... Maia was the darling of the orphanage, Matthew was not. When I think about what both my children have endured in their short lives... oh, my heart breaks. Anyway, we are doing everything we can to help Matthew heal the emotional scars and learn what healthy relationships are all about. 
Because I was concerned about some of the behaviors that Mark and I have been seeing, I asked to meet with Matthew's pre-school teachers - just to see how he was doing socializing with the other kids and how he was doing from a learning standpoint. I'm so glad that I did. It was wonderful to hear that Matthew is doing well at school. They are not seeing any of the behaviors that we are seeing at home and tell me that they enjoy having him in their classrooms. He is making progress in his language skills and can write part of his name "Matth" (working on the rest of it)! I can not even begin to express how much it means to me that his teachers are so committed to Matthew. I've said this before with Maia and it is only reinforced - we are blessed beyond compare with the teachers working with our kiddos - they are AWESOME!!

And that's what's happening with the kids. Matthew is looking forward to Halloween tomorrow and I will try to post pictures of trick-or-treating later in the day.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Winding down

Our time here in Duluth is coming to an end. It has been a wonderful, much needed get-a-way for Mark and me. Last night, we walked to a restaurant just down the street. Enjoyed a couple of adult beverages and relaxed. Even though we try to get out every now and then at home, we sometimes still carry all the daily stresses with us. On this trip, we've been able to leave that behind for the most part. Hopefully, it will allow us to return home tomorrow feeling little bit renewed.
Mark got the floor installed as planned and we will stop at the cabin tomorrow morning to pick up the trailer before heading home. I'm excited to see how things look! The conference has been good and I learned a lot about dermatological conditions.
And on a very cool note, I met a man who will be leaving for Ukraine very soon (next week, I think). He and his wife are adopting a little girl through Reece's Rainbow! Isn't it fun to see God make connections like that?
Although I have enjoyed our time away, I have to admit that I am eager to see our kiddos again. They could not be in better hands right now, but I still am ready to hear their giggles and look at those precious faces. I'm thankful today that the kids have been loved on by their grandparents, thankful for my hubby, and thankful for the many blessings that God has given me.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Thankful Thursday a bit late

I was too tired and yes, a tad lazy to post last night but I do have a huge amount of gratitude for Mark's and my parents right now.

Matthew is enjoying time with Grandmama and Grandpa Jerry (and Suki). Maia is being spoiled by Nana and Papa. Mark and I are spending a few days up north. I'm attending a Dermatology conference and the location is such that Mark is going to be working at our cabin during the day. Now that Maia is more mobile, we need more than just the plywood floor down so she doesn't get slivers. We had bought flooring several years ago, but had not installed it (somehow we've been a bit busy - lol). That's Mark's project for the next couple days. And we get the opportunity for some couple time which is a rare luxury these days.

So, thanks to our parents for this special gift!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

OK for the people laughing at the cardboard and pizza. PAPA MURPHY's does this and I thought it was a new thing that pizza cooking was going to. That is the best excuse I can come up with right now. When I think of a better one I will post it.


Mark

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Faith, hope, and love

Faith is...

believing that God creates families.

"Father to the fatherless...God places the lonely in families." Psalm 68:5-6





Hope is...

trusting that healing is possible.

"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Psalm 147:3



Love is...

unconditional and sometimes requires us to make a conscious commitment.

"Love is patient and kind...  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." 1 Corinthians 13: 4, 7

Monday, October 22, 2012

Happy Anniversary!

To the amazing man that I married 7 years ago today!

I surely never imagined the journey that awaited us. 


There is no one else that I would want by my side. 

Thank you for asking me to share your life.


I love you!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Random observations

On Friday evening, Mark put a frozen pizza in the oven. A few minutes later, I asked him why it smelled like smoke. He looked at the pizza and said everything was fine. Another few minutes pass and I could still smell something odd. I again ask him if there is anything wrong. Mark says, "Isn't the pizza supposed to be cooked on the cardboard? Oy vey!

I'm glad that Matthew is still unconcerned about what other kids think and that he ran to hug me during group time at the beginning of Sunday school. I'm sure those days won't last forever so I have to enjoy them while I can.

Maia is starting to make a few more sounds. Pretty sure that if she starts talking again, the first word out of her mouth is going to be "NOOOOOO!" She's getting awful close to that word.

Praying for all of you out there who still take time to read our blog. May God feel near to you and may He strengthen you in your moments of weakness. He is capable of infinitely more than we can imagine and He is in your corner!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thankful Thursday and EEG results

I'm going to combine two posts together tonight because I'm feeling kind of  ok, a lot lazy.

Maia had her EEG on Tuesday morning. Thankfully, they were able to just put the cap on and attach leads to that as opposed to gluing all the leads to her scalp. She was able to sleep for about 20 minutes so they got a good reading. We met with the neuro NP in the afternoon to get results. On the positive side, there were no "spikes and waves." But, that still leaves us with the question of why Maia has lost her speech.  The EEG does continue to show frequent abnormal brain activity which predisposes her to seizures - both partial and generalized. However, there was no evidence of seizure activity on the EEG. The results were reviewed by an epileptologist who feels that Maia's brain may just still be recovering from it's severe injury and we need to allow more time. So... We don't really have any more answers, other than to say what is not causing the lack of speech. My daily prayers are that God will give Maia back her words.

As far as my thanks, well it's pretty unimaginative today but I am thankful nonetheless.

  • Thankful for the opportunity to have lunch with Erica, a church friend, who adopted her son Timothy from the same detsky dom as our kiddos. Was nice to share time together.
  • Thankful for dinner with my mom on Tuesday evening and then hearing Rabbi Harold Kushner share his perspective on suffering and the book of Job. 
  • Thankful that we had a calm evening without meltdowns.
  • Thankful for God's promise to be with us in the midst of whatever we are dealing with. He sustains me.
  • Thankful for opportunities to make a difference in the lives of my patients and their families.
What's on your list?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Back in the saddle

Yes... I am still alive for those of you who might still be hanging around wondering. When I paused to take a peek at the blog, I realized how long it had actually been. UGH! So, here I am... ready to get back in to the routine of updating. I love having people read the blog, but it's also kind of my journal of parenting and where the kids are at, too. So, I really do need to stay on track - lol!

We've just been doing life over the past couple weeks. The kids have been busy with school and doing well. I'm thinking about making an appointment to visit with Matthew's teachers, just to see how he's adjusting to the school routine. In some ways, I can see that school is good for him. In other ways... well, I can see some of the negative behaviors he's picking up from other kids. I don't have a sense of how he is interacting with his peers so that's one of the things I really want to find out about. Although Matthew's speech has come a long way, I do worry that his difficulty with language may affect the ability to develop friendships. There are a few more weeks of swim class which Matthew really enjoys. He gets to work 1:1 with a volunteer. Last week, they started practicing "diving" for rings in shallow water.

Maia is doing well. She's walking (albeit a bit unsteady yet) around the upstairs of our house on her own. She's been busy with appointments, therapy, school. If you think of it, please say a prayer for our girl tomorrow (Tuesday). She is having an EEG in the morning. When she was hospitalized, the two EEGs that were performed showed abnormal brain activity called "peaks and waves." These can affect the ability to speak. So, the epileptologist (seizure specialist) wants to see if these are still present and the reason that Maia has not regained any speech or verbalization yet. If there are still peaks and waves on the EEG, they may recommend medication to depress them and see if it improves her communication. Problem is that the medication would likely be Valium or something similar. I am not thrilled about this idea, but I guess if it helped Miss Maia to communicate again, then it would be worth it.

Last weekend, we attended a workshop in the cities called Beyond Consequences. It is for parents, caregivers, professionals who live with/care for traumatized kids. Mark and I both found it helpful. The presenter is an adotive mother of 2 children from Russia and social worker. One of the concepts is that brains do not develop normally in kids who come from backgrounds of abuse, neglect, and trauma. They live in a constant state of stress and fear - choosing to either act out or shut down. Much of the philosophy depends on us as parents changing our perceptions and approach. I am being challenged for sure!

I am guessing that every parent feels this way at one time or another, but parenting is such a humbling experience. As with so much in my life, it reinforces my need for God and my dependence on Him for wisdom, patience, and understanding. Somehow, he saw Mark and I as worthy to parent Matthew and Maia so I have to trust that He will equip us with what we need to do so.

I'll get a couple of cute pics of the kids posted soon and try to share more of what's happening here. Happy Monday!!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Today I am glad Matthew does not know how to call the police. Last night he said he was mad at me when I told him to brush his teeth. Then he said he wanted to call the police and have me put in jail, so I gave him the phone. He pushed about 30 numbers and then asked me to call the police so he could put me in jail. I think I would be the first dad in jail for teeth brushing.

Mark

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Reasons to give thanks!

The day's almost over and I meant to get this post completed before I even really started my day. Somehow... that just didn't happen. But, I can't let Thursday leave without mentioning a couple of things I am so thankful for today.

  • Yesterday I came up the stairs after getting home from work. Matthew was hiding from me (one of our favorite games) and Maia was in the living room. I walked in and said "Hi, baby girl." She got the most beautiful smile on her face, crawled over to the couch and PULLED HERSELF UP TO A STANDING POSITION!!  Did you hear me cheering her on? YAY MAIA!
  • Usually, the kids are up when I leave for work in the morning so I am able to say "good-bye" to them. Yesterday was no exception. They were both in our bedroom with Mark. I told them all to have a good day and walked downstairs to leave. Matthew came running after me yelling, "Wait mom! I have a dea (idea)." I stopped as he ran down the stairs. His idea? "Mom, I give you hug and kiss!" Oh Matthew... I think that was the BEST IDEA EVER!!
  • So thankful for my sweet hubby who handles the whole morning routine a few days a week so that I can attempt to  get back into the habit of going to the gym before work. And he does this without complaining. Love you Mark!
  • Tonight, I am especially thankful that God somehow found me worthy to be mom to these two precious treasures that he has entrusted us with and to be the wife of this man who tolerates me in spite of my many faults!!
What's on your list for today?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

from mark

I have not posted for a long time. Melanie is doing a great job so I stay out of it. But I need to post this.  On Friday we (all four of us) went to see my mom and dad, they are home after spending time at their cabin for most of the summer. Maia has been taking a few steps by herself . When she saw Nana she started walking all over the place. So Maia is now walking on her own when she wants too. I'm sure Melanie will tell you more later.

Mark

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Cross

I received this cross as a gift from a friend of mine. It's beautiful and I love having it in our living room as a reminder not only of her, but of Jesus and His sacrifice for me. 
One day, I began to look closely at it. There were some imperfections in the painting.  At first glance, they are difficult to see (especially in the picture), but there nonetheless. 


I started thinking about those flaws and it occurred to me... 
Isn't that what the cross is all about?
Jesus was perfect, yet He chose to assume my imperfections, my sins.
The stakes that were driven in to His hands, His feet could be considered tangible proof of those sins - 
agonizing physical pain in addition to the spiritual burden that my Savior bore. 
For ME! How humbling is that knowledge?
To know that I am loved enough by Jesus to make that sacrifice - amazing!
Somehow... that imperfect cross seems all the more precious when considered from that perspective.







Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thankful Thursday

It's late, but I do want to make a quick post for Thankful Thursday. Will you join me in wishing Happy Birthday to a woman who I am so thankful for, a woman who I am blessed to call one of my other "mothers." Mark's mom is a beautiful woman, inside and out - a Nana who is beloved by her Ukranian grand kids, who generously gives of her time to help us out, and who I enjoy so much. Happy birthday, Nana - you are the best!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Miss Maia

As I mentioned in my last post, Miss Maia had a busy Monday with appointments. In the morning, she was seen by the Neurology NP in the Spina Bifida Clinic. This was the woman who actually "found" Maia's shunt malfunction (which had been present for a year, but no one told us) back in February. This was the first time we had seen her since then. She was very patient with us as we asked a lot of questions. One of the things I wanted to know was if an MRI or EEG would show us how Maia's brain has been affected by the infection and/or seizures. Short answer is that an MRI might show this, an EEG would not. And bottom line is that getting those answers would not change anything in how Maia's recovery or treatment is approached. So... is it worth the stress and anxiety it would like cause our sweet girl? Probably not. As someone who likes to have all the answers, this is a difficult situation for me. I am praying for God to give me acceptance and reassurance that it doesn't really matter.

In the afternoon, Maia saw our wonderful Dr. S who is the Physical Medicine and Rehab specialist in the Spina Bifida Clinic. She is pleased with how Maia is doing from a gross motor standpoint. She has no answers (nor does anyone) about why Maia lost her speech. Dr. S is "hopeful" that she will gain it back, but is also quite cautious in saying that Maia may not regain that ability. We are praying daily that God gives Maia her voice back. It is one of the things we miss most. With Maia's brain injury, it is also possible that she has developed some autonomic dysfunction in her ability to regulate body temperature. At times, she becomes quite flushed and other times, her hands and legs/feet are almost purple from cold. No specific intervention at this point, more just supportive things to keep her warm or cool.

Today, I took Maia to her therapy appointments. Miss Maia surprised the PT and me. She was cruising by herself down the hall, holding on to the railing when she saw something across the hall that was pretty motivating to her. Next thing we knew, Little Miss Thing WALKED ALL BY HERSELF without holding on to anything for about 10 feet! WOOHOO!!

And that's our excitement for the day.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Weekend

The weekend went quickly, but we really had a pretty nice one. Mark and the kids met me in the cities on Friday afternoon. We played at the water park for a few hours and then had our traditional pizza and movie with cookies for dessert in our hotel room. Mark's friends Kellie and Greg came for a little while. It was their first time meeting Matthew and he, of course, charmed them. ;-) More swimming on Saturday morning before we headed for home. Yesterday afternoon was pretty low-key and the kids slept well last night - lol!!

Sunday school and church this morning. The Sunday School kids sang "Jesus Loves Me" as the closing hymn and Matthew sang with GREAT enthusiasm! He loves yelling "BUT HE IS STRONG." We had several comments about how Matthew keeps things lively at church. :-)

 Mark spent the afternoon working on our motor home. Matthew went along and "helped."  BTW - don't be impressed. It's not as exciting as it sounds. It is a 1983 and one of the walls is rotten because of a leak in the roof. Mark's replacing the wall. The main purpose of the RV is so that we have a shower at our cabin. That's because we have no running water there (our bathroom facility is an outhouse) and we usually haul water for drinking, cooking, washing dishes. Speaking of the cabin, we're hoping that next year we will actually be able to spend some time there. This year, we made the trip once shortly before Maia got sick and haven't been back. At the very least, Mark will need to go up to get things closed for the winter. But maybe, we'll be able to take a day trip as a family as well.

Maia and I stayed home. She was a little "punky" at lunch time so I gave her some Ibuprofen and laid her down for a nap. Seemed better when she woke up, so hopefully it was nothing. Not quite sure how to post videos on the blog, but for those of you who are friends with me on Facebook (and if you aren't friends - feel free to friend me), I'm trying to upload a short video of Maia. I think she will be walking on her own soon. She is starting to "cruise" on walls and furniture. Praising God for that!!

Doctor's appointments for her tomorrow at the Spina Bifida Clinic. I'm going to ask the neurology NP to show us the images of Maia's MRI/CT scans and explain what things mean and/or how they affect Maia's current level of functioning. Mark and I both feel like we have very little understanding about this. So, we hope to have a bit more information by the end of the day. We don't anticipate any big surprises at the visits, actually we hope that she surprises the people she sees with the progress she has made. If you would keep our girl in your prayers, that would be so appreciated.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thankful Thursday

It's late and I am just going to take a few minutes for thankful Thursday.

  • I'm very thankful for a wonderful hubby who is willing to have full responsibilities for the kids while I go to a conference for work. Love you Mark!
  • Thankful that this same wonderful hubby was willing to brave swim class with both kids this evening by himself. Sounds like Matthew was a natural!
  • For the opportunity to attend a conference that provides me with learning opportunities that will benefit my patients.
  • Thankful for the chance to have dinner with my friend Kari. It was good to visit with her.
  • Thankful that Kari was willing to indulge me. I had never tried Indian Food before and the restaurant across the street was supposed to be good. I really enjoyed the chicken tikka masala and some veggies. Oh, the garlic naan was yummy, too!
  • Thankful for my wonderful bloggy friend Pat who surprised us with a thoughtful and totally unexpected care package! You touched my heart deeply!
It's way too late for this girl... I've gotta get some sleep. But, I would love to hear what you are thankful for.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Appointments

Just a quick update. Yesterday was busy with appointments. Matthew had speech in the morning and saw the urologist for his surgical follow up yesterday afternoon. Everything seems to be working well so Matthew doesn't need to be seen again by the urologist unless there are concerns.

We had a meeting at the school to discuss Maia's evaluation and goals. As always, I am so thankful for the staff. Their commitment to her is evident. The speech therapist is working to help Maia use some buttons to help her verbalize. There is one that will say her name when she pushes it. Another and will allow her to make yes/no choices. Both Speech and OT are working with Maia on feeding. Little stinker... It appears she's able to do a bit more than she let's on at home. ;-) PT wasn't there, but have some goals for balance and mobility. Although she will not be seen by PT and OT every week, they will make suggestions to be implemented into her daily classroom routine.

It was a kind of brutal day at work and long past the kids' bedtime when I got home. But, I was off today instead so I did get to spend a bit of time with them before leaving this evening for a conference in the cities. mark is holding down the fort at home. He and the kids will join me on Friday and we will spend one night at the water park hotel again as a special treat.

Feels a bit weird to be have peace and quiet in my hotel room. Yes, I am absolutely enjoying these moments and taking advantage of a little prayer time as well. The morning schedule starts early so I will sign off for the night.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Low key weekend and back to the routine

Rochester (the "big" town near us) has an adaptive park and rec program which offers some activities for kids with special needs through Community Ed. I missed the summer registration, but was able to get both kids registered for a couple of things this fall. On Saturday, Matthew and Maia spent a few hours at Stay-n-Play. The day is coordinated and staffed by college students who are pursuing special education degrees.

Matthew was a little apprehensive when we got there, but as soon as he saw the toys - he no longer cared that I was leaving - lol! And when I came back to pick the kids up, he was having a blast in a ball pit with a couple of other boys. I was feeling a bit learly about leaving Maia (just the hovering mom in me). It's hard when she can't communicate at all - either to let someone else know what she needs or to tell us what has happened. She is so vulnerable and that is a bit unsettling to me. But, I did leave her in very capable hands, knowing that she would have 1:1 care with one of the gals. I wish that I had a video camera rolling when I got back. Maia's back was to me when I walked in, so I was able to come along side of her and start talking before she saw me. She turned her head a little bit and I kept talking. Eventually, Maia turned to where she could see me and the smile that came over her face was absolutely beautiful. It brings me to tears just thinking about it. A smile of recognition and happiness that I was there. It also made me feel a bit bad, wondering if she thought that I had left her and wasn't coming back.

Stay-n-Play is offered once a month and the kids will go back in December for another visit. This Thursday, they will start swimming classes - once a week for eight weeks. I think it will be good for them. There is a support person for each child in the class. I won't be able to make it, but have told Mark to  make sure he takes the video camera. Both kids love being in the water, so I'm sure it will be a hit.

Yesterday was Rally Sunday at church - the first day of Sunday School. The parents attend this first Sunday and all ages get together to talk about the upcoming year. At the end of the time, each age group gathered with their teachers and went outside for a picture of all the kids. I was not expecting to get so emotional when that happened. It hurt that Maia couldn't join the group by herself. Mark pushed her wheelchair. It hurts that she can't actively join in to things that she was so excited about last year.

My heart aches for my girl. Sometimes, I feel a bit bipolar in this journey. Now before anyone blasts me, I am not attempting to make any type of comparison about how I feel and bipolar disorder. It's more an analogy. Some days, I do just fine. I can be accepting of where Maia is at right now. And other times, I just grieve for what has been lost.

Anyway, it's Monday and we're back into the routine of school and work. Matthew had a really good day. It's going to be so much fun to watch how he thrives as a result of pre-school. Of course, there are the not-so-great things he brings home as a result of the other kids. But, we will have to handle those as the situation presents itself.  I'm amazed at how much he has soaked up in just 7 days of school already.

I need to get some pics of Matthew to post, but will leave you with this cute one of Miss Maia.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Four months

Four months ago today, we woke up anticipating our usual routine. I can tell you that NEVER, EVER did it cross my mind that by the end of that day, Maia would be fighting for her life. It has been a long four months, seems more like a lifetime. Two weeks in the ICU, six weeks in the hospital, home for a month, and another hospitalization. Five surgeries for our sweet girl. She has been through so much.

Honestly, it often feels like we have lost Maia and now have a different child.  Even the "shell" seems different. There are moments when I get just a milli-second glimpse of the "before" Maia, but it's gone so quickly that I wonder if it just my imagination. So... how is Miss Maia doing?

Physically, she continues to get stronger. She is capable of standing and taking steps independently. Just lacks the self-confidence to do so. If Maia thinks we are holding on to her, she's fine. The minute she realizes that she is on her own, she plops herself down - lol! She's crawling around the house more and more. "Mean mom" is working on helping Maia to learn to crawl up the stairs again. Oh... let me tell you how much she loves dislikes that. ;-) But, she's slowly figuring it out. Making some progress holding on to things for brief periods of time. Will hold on to a food item and bring it to her mouth (only problem is that she keeps putting the food in without taking time to chew). 

Cognitively, things are going much slower. Maia is definitely more alert than she was when she first came home. There is recognition for familiar faces and items. No verbal communication right now and actually, she was making more sounds earlier in her recovery than she is now. As I have shared before, I think that is one of the most difficult things for me. I miss hearing her sweet voice and even miss her crabby voice - lol!! There are times when she cries, but she's not always able to even give us any indication why she is crying. Yes, we are able to discern some of her cries, but there are some that just come out of nowhere. Depending on what's going on inside that beautiful head of hers, she may be very frustrated and scared about why she can't do the things she used to do.

On a positive note, Maia is nearly back to her pre-illness medication regimen. She's down to one seizure medication, instead of two. And we've seen nothing remotely concerning for seizure activity. Still taking melatonin to help with sleep at night, but that's a whole lot better than the anxiety and pain medications that she required when she came home from the hospital.

It's hard to think about how this has affected Matthew, too. Although in many ways, he doesn't seem that much different, Maia's illness has made an impact. As a mom, I struggle with some sense of guilt about the loss he's had over the past four months. Matthew, too, has had to endure more in his five years than some of us do over our whole lives. The world he was just starting to feel secure in was turned upside down. And he isn't able to just tell us what he thinks or how he feels. Some of those emotions come out in other ways.  It can be a challenge. But, there are also moments when Matthew touches my heart with things he says and does.

Now... it feels like we are starting to develop a bit of a new "normal." That word feels wrong somehow, because how can this be considered normal? But there isn't a whole lot of choice in the matter. For as much as I would like to just crawl in bed and pull the covers over my head some days, that won't do much good. So, all of us get up, get dressed, go about our day and try to figure this different life out. We learn how to navigate in situations that we never anticipated. Some days, we do well. Others? Well... we make it through.

And I truly believe that the reason we are able to keep putting one foot in front of the other and can start to smile again at times is because God has sustained us over the past four months. Thankful that He is constant even when life as we know it changes in ways we didn't anticipate and that He promises to walk each step of the journey with us.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thankful Thursday

What's on your list for today??

  • First, I am thankful for healing. Maia's most recent surgical incision is nearly healed. It has been six weeks. A far cry from the surgical incisions in February that kept getting larger and looking worse as we tried to get people to listen when we knew things weren't right.
  • Thankful for nights that are cool enough that we can have the windows open and cozy blankets on the bed to snuggle up in.
  • I'm thankful for God's provision. Even though I am sometimes often guilty of wanting more, He has given me more than I need and more than I deserve. "Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" - Matthew 6:26
  • Thankful that God sees the big picture even when I do not. Sometimes, I wonder what His purpose is in certain situations we are dealing with and why He chose Mark and I to be part of them. But, His plan is perfect. "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." – Proverbs 3:5-6

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Rejoicing and weeping

A couple of reasons for rejoicing today.
 
Natalia has been found by her forever family!! I first heard this a few weeks ago unofficiallly, but now Natalia is on the "My Family Found Me" page of Reece's Rainbow. I am so happy that this precious girl will soon be in the arms of parents who adore her.
 
 
This is not a good picture, but you can get the idea... Maia actually picked up the wrap that Mark made her for lunch and attempted to feed herself. That's definitely worth rejoicing about! 
 
 
But while I am praising God for the happy news, my heart is also breaking. Children left behind in orphanages have been heavy on my heart recently. Reading the posts of a two of my bloggy friends has left me even more heartbroken with tears flowing regularly.
 
 
Meet Harvey 
This precious boy is three years old. He is fed by a feeding tube. According to Adeye's post, the hair in his arms is most likely due to malnutrition and a "total lack of human contact." That is beyond comprehension to me. How can children be placed in cribs and left there for YEARS with not even their basic needs met?


This is Thad.
Thad was born into a family. He lived with them until he was four years old, enduring who knows what. At four, Thad was beaten severly and left in a coma. He suffered severe brain damage and was brought to an orphanage. There he was placed in a crib and left with not even his basic needs met. From one horrific situation to another equally unfathomable existence.
 
 
And now, Sonny
Sonny has Down Syndrome and was born in a country where he was placed in an orphanage. He aged out of the detsky dom and was transferred to an adult mental institution. There, Sonny is bruised and beaten. No child deserves such treatment. This will be his life until a family steps forward to claim him as their forever son OR until death claims Sonny.
 
 
I was reading Adeye's post the other day while eating lunch and I literally almost vomited as she talked about praying for a little boy. These are her words, "I lie in my bed. Haunted by their sweet faces. Desperate to do more…and more. I think about each one I met, touched, laid hands on, prayed for...and begged the Father to take home to be with Him. I wonder. Is he still alive, the precious one with untreated hydrocephalus that has left his head the size of two watermelons? That amazing little boy. Created in the image of a God who adores him. His head literally splitting open and oozing water and blood from the extreme pressure it can no longer contain. Incomprehensible suffering!"
It was all I could do not to lose my lunch, this was too personal. Hydrocephaly... this could be our Maia if she had not received treatment. The thought of her experiencing something like this angel made me sick. To think about this sweet boy who has no one to comfort him, to hold him, and tell him how loved he is has brought me to tears frequently since hearing about him.

I know I have asked this before, but please search your heart... what can you do to make a difference in the lives of children who are waiting for their forever families? Have you considered bringing a precious child home? You don't need to be rich, you don't need to have a big home, you don't have to have all the answers. Kids don't care about that. They need love and commitment, someone who is willing to see them as God sees them. Can you help someone who is adopting right now? Can you pray, advocate, shout these children's names to the world? Please, please - do SOMETHING to help the kids above or other children who wait for their forever families.