Fall 2013

Fall 2013

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!