Thursday, May 12, 2016

Malia's Bone Graft Surgery

This girl of ours continues to amaze us!  A week before her bone graft surgery, I took her to the doctor for her pre-op appointment.  I broke the news that she had surgery coming up.  First she was mad.  Then she started to cry.  She was upset that we hadn't told her earlier, even though she had requested that we only give her a weeks notice before the surgery.  We ran a few errands and then headed to Tim's for some comfort food. 
It turns out this girl has been doing a lot of thinking, and she is amazingly wise!  So she tells me this..."Mom, the other night I was lying in bed, wondering why people have disabilities.  And then I was wondering why I have this (meaning cleft lip/palate), and I realized that maybe it's so other people can see Jesus through my story!"
Yup!  I choked back the tears and agreed! (Well, maybe the tears didn't choke back so well!) 
So, in sharing these photos...Malia has decided she doesn't care who sees them.

Malia was a champ this time around!  She always gets more and more nervous as she gets closer to being sedated.  I'm learning to speak up more, even in the OR.  It really does help to give suggestions on what works for Malia.  She cried a bit, but was incredibly brave and strong.  She managed to focus on taking deep breathes and squeezing my hand. 
The surgery went very well, although the surgeon is concerned about how well the graft will take around one of her teeth.  So that's something you could pray about when you think of her.
We bought an iPad for the kids for Christmas and it's been such a gift during these hospital stays.  It is one of the few times Malia actually gets to use it!
As usual, the nights spent in the hospital are rough.  The first night was awful!  I don't want to say too much, but we entered the room as two police officers left.  Lets just say the following words were overheard..."teen airlifted, found unconscious and beaten, alcohol poisoning, kit..."  And it all seemed to be "normal" for this gal and her family.  We had all managed to dose off and then were interrupted when a relative came to visit this gal around 10:30 pm!  They thought it was a great idea to visit loudly, eat, and watch a movie till past midnight! 
Malia was exhausted the next day and asked for earplugs and managed to have a decent nap.
Then her Auntie Rita came for a very special visit!  These two are kindred spirits and they love each other well!  We couldn't be more grateful for this special lady!

Day 2
Malia's surgeon and nurses were once again astounded at how well Malia handled her pain, how she managed to drink, and how well she handled everything.  Apparently they never have kids leave after two nights in the hospital...but Malia did!  She's such a trooper!!
Malia was very swollen and bruised.  The bruises were hard to capture on camera.  Her skin tone hides them well.  These photos make the bruising look a lot better than it actually was!
Day 3                                                                 Day 4                
Day 5              

Day 6                                                                      Day 7          


Day 10                  
We did a little math, and so far this year (19 weeks), Malia has been on a liquid diet for about 12 weeks and a soft/mushy food diet for about 2-3 weeks!  That's a restricted diet for 14-15 weeks!  And for the most part, she does not complain!  She did let me know, in no uncertain terms, that blended chicken noodle soup is disgusting!! 
This was Malia's fifth surgery in a little over a year.  We are DONE with surgeries!  But the end is in least temporally! Malia will have another surgery in about 6 months to release her upper lip.  And then she will have a 5-6 year break!!!  Yah!!! We couldn't be more excited about that!!!





Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day 2016

Today is a bittersweet day.  I miss my mom.  I wish she could meet my youngest four.  I wish I could wish her a "Happy Mother's Day". 
My mother in law is not doing well and was admitted to the hospital a few days ago.  It's so difficult to get in to see her.  The rooms are super small, barely big enough for Wren's chair to pass between the beds.  There's no chair for a loved one to sit at her side.  There are two people that share her room that have a very contagious illness that necessitates care givers to gown up.  I tell my kids not to touch anything, but it still kinda freaks me out at the thought of them contacting this illness.  So today I will continue praying that she literally feels our love, and feels the arms of her Saviour wrapped tightly around her.
And then we had Wren's child dedication in church this morning.  Wren was more than a bit confused about all the fuss, but some day she will understand that she is a gift that God has entrusted to us and that we desire for her to have a relationship with Him, and that we will do our very best to raise and teach her well!

Raising a child takes a village...or in our case a community of believers.  I love this picture!  It hit me square in the chest at what this picture represents.  It represents so much more than our pastor praying for us as parents and praying for our kids.  It really represents the church, or fellow believers walking along side us, praying for us, supporting us, encouraging us.  I am so incredibly grateful for the people that choose to show us in so many ways that they care, that they've got our back.  I may have bawled when I received a very undeserved, but incredibly encouraging text from my brother.  I don't deserve to be honored in my role as a mom.  I fail so very often.  But then, receiving this text...well, it just puts the wind in my sails and makes me all the more determined to be the very best mom I can be!  Thank know who you are!!

Thanks to Nathalie for taking these pictures for us at the drop of a hat!  You have no idea how much we value these pics.
And then there's this crew!  My heart about explodes that I have the privilege of being their mom!  They really are incredible!  And so very handsome and beautiful...inside and out!

And as I often do, especially on this day to honour mothers...I pray for the birth mom of each of my kids.  I pray that somehow she will know her child is safe, is loved, and is happy.  I thank God that she chose life!  I thank God, that somehow in all the possible things that could have stood in the way of us ever meeting...He made a way! A way for me to be their mama!
Happy Mama's Day to all you amazing birth, by adoption, and those that chose the greatest sacrifice of placing your child into another woman's arms.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Wren April 2016

I think I start every post wondering where the time has gone.  My intentions are to blog consistently, but that simply hasn't been an option these past few months.  I used to think that 6-8 medical appointments a month was nuts.  Now we're up to 10 or 11 a month!  I'm at the point where I actually look forward to appointments because it means I get to spend some one on one time with one or two kids.  And that makes me happy.  It's also a time to relax!  lol!  No running around doing a million things at a time!
Anyhow, I really had meant to post an update on Wren a looong time ago. I've been struggling with knowing what to post, and what not to post.  I really want to be sensitive to Wren and her siblings.  I find the more I blog, the more private I want to become.  But this is not my story.  It's not even entirely Wren's story (don't get me IS her story, but if that was all there was to tell, I'd probably keep it quiet.)  It's God's story, and I feel with every fibre of my being that this story needs to be told.
For those of you who have been and continue to be our biggest prayer warriors, I apologize.  I know you have followed this story for a while, and I know you've been anxiously awaiting an update.  Anyhow, here it is.
Wren has been home for 5 months now!  In some ways it feels like a very short time. But mostly it feels like she's been in our family for years.  Most of our kids have settled in to this new normal.  A few still struggle at times. 
It makes me smile every time Jackson affectionately calls Wren, WrenWren.  It makes me smile every time the kids argue about who is going to push Wren's chair or help her out of her chair.  It makes me smile when big brothers help their little sister.  But mostly, this life of ours makes me smile because there is such a peace and joy...even in the stress and chaos!
Wren is doing VERY well!  She loves, loves to be outside!  She especially loves the sandbox.  She loves it when it's cold and windy.
She love it when it's sunny and warm.  She giggled and giggled at the feel of sand between her toes!
Wren had her first Canadian wiener roast and loved it!

She flew her first kite and loved watching it or loved flying the kite herself.
Wren has gained 6 pounds and is up to 56 lbs now.  She measures 4 ft 4 inches.  (Her and Malia are the exact same height.)
We've had a lot of appointments for Wren these past few months and every single one of them has brought good news.  Hopeful news.  We were surprised to hear our orthopedic say Wren shows no signs of scoliosis and that her hips are not dislocated.  She is confident that it's a matter of "when" Wren will walk, not a matter of "if".  I could have jumped for joy at that news!  Of coarse we don't know what that walking will look like.  It may mean walking with a walker.  Or with a cane.  Or knock kneed.  But that's more than fine!  We're just so incredibly excited to do what needs to be done to make those first steps happen!
Wren's hair is slowly growing.  Her hair is getting softer and softer.  When she first arrived home it was very coarse and almost stiff.  We have her on an intense regime of supplements and it is astounding what that has done for her hair, her stomach, and her overall health.  Wren is determined to grow out her bangs.  I'd rather keep the bangs...she looks so grown up without them, and I'm so not ready to have her grow up any faster than it's already happening.
Wren got new AFO's (ankle foot orthopedics).  These are more supportive and more comfortable than the ones she had in China.  They offer a lot of support, and make it much easier for her to bear weight.  And they allow her foot to fit into shoes better.
And Wren has been seeing an OT and PT.  They are both so incredibly amazing!  Wren is practicing standing on the walking stand. I didn't catch in on camera, but she couldn't hold back a great big grin!!

Wren also got to try out a motorized chair.  Her therapists were amazed at how well she did and were convinced Wren must have used one before.  I'm pretty certain she hasn't.  We are waiting to find out whether she will qualify for a motorized chair.

Wren has also been taking riding lessons. Each week she can hardly wait to go riding.  It is one of the most comprehensive therapies available.  It's so very good to build muscle strength, for emotional healing, and for mental health. 
So I accidentally uploaded the wrong's the correct one...the one with Wren.  The one above is of Malia and Raina.  They also LOVE riding!  It is so very, very good for them too!  We have seen many positive changes in our girls that will forever positively impact their lives.
I am continually amazed at how well Wren is doing!  I've read a lot of books, listened to a lot of videos, and spoken to many parents and professionals with experience in adoption and trauma...and this girl is simply amazing!  I am convinced, that for some reason, her young heart has been protected.  She is so very open to love, to us and our chaos, emotions, and short comings.  That is nothing short of a miracle!  I can not wait to see how God uses this girl for His kingdom!
The rest of this week and next week are filled with appointments, so I will be too busy to least that's what I'm setting my mind to.  That way if I happen to get around to it, it's a bonus!  lol!
Anyhow, I hope you all have a great week...and if you happen to think of us, say a little prayer as we navigate an unusually busy week.   Thanks so much!




Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter 2016

It's been way too long since I last posted, but as is our "normal", life happened and things got really busy.  We had ten days of kids with high fevers.  It was the first time in all my 16 years of parenting that a fever actually really made me panic!  Raina had a fever of 103, and even after having Tylenol, it continued to rise.  We added Ibuprofen and a cool sponge bath and finally managed to bring it under control.
I've been meaning to post an update on Wren, but that will have to wait for now. It's a post that will take a lot more time and thought. So, first I will share a bit about our Easter.
We had a tea party using Wren's tea set from China.  The kids dressed up in their finest silks and the girls insisted on having their hair up in a bun! 

We made devilled eggs that had been soaked in colored water for a few minutes.  They honestly tasted a lot better than the usual devilled eggs!  ;)  And we sipped on Pink Lady tea!
The kids had a blast and are begging for another tea party!

We did some crafts as well.  I found some super cool plastic eggs at Walm*rt that were perfect for painting...lets just say no eating boiled eggs for days and no fragile hollow eggs!
(don't you love my craft table cloth?!?  lol!  It's an old plastic Christmas table cloth that works perfectly for those paint and water spills!  Once it's too dirty to clean, or too ripped, it will go into the garbage!  And I'll buy another cheap dollar store table cloth!)

I even managed to convince the men to join us!  We had so much fun!!

I had to take a close up of Wren's little egg chick!  Isn't it the sweetest chick ever!?!?  This girl has some serious artistic talent!!
The kids had their usual Easter Basket their pjs cause they received their Easter outfits in their baskets..well the youngest four did!  Haha!  
The youngest kids got the Berenstain Bear "Living Lights" books (except for Malia cause she's loving her chapter books!)  I LOVE them!  The stories all tie into scripture verses and teach a lesson or morale!  That makes this mama happy!

This was Wren's first Easter at home and she didn't hesitate to get in the thick of the Easter Egg hunt!

My three precious girls!  I LOVE saying that!!  I never dreamt I'd have three beautiful girls!  And saying it over and over simply doesn't get old!!
They were tickled to have the same dresses!  They did have matching tattoos as well, but Wren worked hard to wash hers off...not sure why.
I had hoped to get a picture of the boys, but they were "busy"!  Ha! time!!
We also did these cool and simple paintings.

And we made these string eggs....well, I basically made them!  They were way too difficult for the little kids!

And at the end of the weekend, we couldn't help but look at all we have been given, and with grateful hearts we treasured all of this...our kids, our time together...and the wonderful gift of Christ's resurrection and gift of eternal salvation! 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Squash Recipes

I've been meaning to post some squash recipes since fall.  This past summer was the first time I branched out from the traditional pumpkin and zucchini.  I added about 8 varieties of squash; with butternut, buttercup, and spaghetti squash being the ones that produced the most.  I didn't have the brain power or energy to try to figure out how to dry them in the sun so that I could store them in our root cellar all winter. (I'll definitely be trying that next fall).  So I baked and pureed most of my squash.
My all time favourite recipe so far is this one...
Southwest Squash Soup
1 medium butternut squash
1 medium onion
2 tbsp. butter
6-8 cups chicken broth (I prefer to use the drippings left over from turkey or chicken)
3 tsp Chili Powder
2 tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Ground Coriander
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (I don't add this because a few of my littles don't like it too hot)
dash of pepper
sour cream to garnish.
Clean and cut squash in half.  Discard seeds.  Place face down on tinfoil lined baking sheet.  Bake at 350 till soft.  Puree in blender with a bit of water, until smooth. Saute onion in butter (I use my soup pot...less dishes to wash!) and add remaining ingredients.  Cook for 30 minutes.  Garnish with sour cream and a dash of cayenne pepper!

My kids love this version of Mac n' Cheese and so do I...not only because it's nutritious!  It's super moist and delicious!  I prefer to use real cheese rather than Cheez Whiz or some other processed cheese.  However, if your family is accustomed to eating it that way, I'd probably stick with it.  They may find the slight squash flavour overwhelming.  My kids didn't notice it until I told them it had squash in it! 

Mac n' Cheese With Butternut Squash
1 small butternut squash
1 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 cups milk
pinch of grated nutmeg
3/4 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1 pound macaroni
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
4 tbsp. parmesan cheese
Bread Crumb Topping
1/2 -1 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
enough olive oil to moisten bread crumbs
Prep squash as mentioned above.   Add chicken stock, milk, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and squash in a pot.  Then cook macaroni in a separate pot as per instructions and add to squash mixture. Add both cheeses.  Transfer to a baking dish.  Mix bread crumb toppings in a separate bowl and sprinkle evenly over noodle mixture.  Bake until crumbs are lightly browned.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Village - with Francis Chan

If you haven't already watched the above video, please do!  It is powerful!

It's been a rough month.  Not because of appointments or kids.  But because of sin in my heart.  I'm going to take a stab in the dark and guess that I'm not the only one that has ever struggled with bitterness.  I've had a bitter heart before, but never to this point or for this long.

 I'm going to be vulnerably honest.  Not because I want or need sympathy, but because I wholeheartedly believe that it's high time for Christians to quit hiding behind the mask of "everything is good!"  It is one of the reasons we stay in a rut and don't grow spiritually.

I'm not going to go into a lot of detail about why I've been struggling with bitterness...but I will say this...It's a result of the injustices we face on a regular basis...everything from people ignoring our kids, to the idea of what is defined as being worthy of support (financial and other).  We face a lot of ignorance and plain out hate.  Some wouldn't call it that.  They'd say it's too harsh a word to use.  It's the only word that is somewhat appropriate.  From a human perspective, I am justified in my bitterness.  It's not like we've encountered these things once or twice.  They keep happening...over, and over, and over again...and it gets harder to deal with each time.  So, really, I could leave it at that and justify my bitterness.

However, that's not what I believe.  Bitterness is ugly.  Bitterness eats you up from the inside.  Bitterness causes a lot of unnecessary stress.  Bitterness leaves you wanting peace. 

And so, I am at this point...instead of praying for peoples hearts to be changed...I am praying for God to take hold of my heart and change it to reflect His love and peace.  That's not to say I don't still struggle.  I do.  And I'm going to guess I will for some time. 

I've shared with a few people what I am struggling with...even an acquaintance I ran into at the grocery sorry A for talking your ear off and sharing more than you wanted to hear...but I know you have prayed and for that I thank you!

Scripture tells us to confess our sins to each other...for the purpose of being held accountable and so we can pray for each other.  It's amazing how doing this can be the catalyst in changing our hearts. how does the above video relate to what I just shared?  Well, it hit me square in the heart! THIS is what it's all about!  It's about loving others as Christ loves us!

It doesn't mean that you should go and adopt a child this instant...what it means is that if you haven't already found something that makes you wake up in the morning thinking of someone other than yourself (or the precious little family that surrounds you), than it's high time to figure out how and where you can love others as Christ has loved you.  It's time to quit storing up treasures on earth.  It's time to store treasures in heaven! 

I live in the Bible Belt of my province...but for the most part, us Christians are known for being critical, judgemental, and picky about who we hang out with.  We're known for shouting louder about the evils of sexual orientation than we are known for shouting about the rights of the destitute, the poor, the fatherless.  We're known for being very well to do.  We're a rich community.  Let's change this into being known as the Love Belt of our province!  Let's quit saving for our retirement, for our next vacation, for that new car, for that beautiful house....and let's start being lavish in our giving of our money and selves to others!  He cares for the birds.  Why wouldn't He care for us just as lavishly?!?

I am challenged and encouraged by the community in this video.  Seventy families caring and loving and being family for 160 special needs kids....and China is known, at least in my community, as being a heathen country.   Hmmm....something to think about!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Our Mini Vacation

I'm sitting at my computer, wearing an extra cozy hoodie (or bunnyhug as we say SK!), my warm slippers, and sipping on my second cup of mocha.  It's that kinda day!  I'm tired!  Ha!  What's new about that?!? lol!  Really, though...I am REALLY tired!  Perhaps I shouldn't have pretended I was a teenager and stayed up till past midnight watching my favourite show, knowing the boys would be up at 4 am to go choring!  Or perhaps it's the little guy crying a few times at night.  Or the boys coming home at 6:30, waking me again. 
The boys are choring all week, so it will be an early bedtime tonight!  It was suppose to be our week off of school, but we'll wait till the boys are done the early morning chore time so we can sleep in and be lazy!
In my last post I mentioned how very tired we are.  It's not a wonder!  It is the stage of life we are in right now and I can't see it changing for a while.   I hope I'm wrong about that!  As I'm writing, I'm dictating Morgun's spelling words to him...trying to form wonder my head is tired! 
 So we decided to take a spur of the moment mini vacation at Elk Ridge Resort.  It's about a 2 hour drive from our place, so it was easy to get there without too many "are we there yet?!?"
The cabin we stayed it was well used, but cozy. We booked at the last minute and got a very reasonable rate, which included access to the pool, skating, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and tobogganing.  The weather was perfect! Not too cold, and not too warm, with fluffy snow falling several days.  I was in my glory!  I LOVE soft falling snow!
We went tobogganing...
And some of us may have had time out cause our bad attitudes simply can not be left at home! 
And the two of us try to keep on smiling!  What would a vacation be like without temper tantrums, snarky remarks, cooking, and restless nights?!?  I can only dream.....


We went skating...Elk Ridge has the best ice surface.  It's a pond that has the perimeter cleared and spots in the middle cleared for individual spaces to skate and play hockey.  On this day, it was snowing so there was a fair bit of snow on the ice which made it difficult to skate...but it was so beautiful!

I love how my kids make the effort to include Wren.  The youngest two are constantly arguing about who gets to push her in her wheelchair.


We sorted and graphed Valentine candy...and ate far too many!

 We played outside...

Or more like...sat around bored out of our minds!  Well, at least some of us!  I was just grateful the teens humoured us and joined us!


A certain someone may have fallen off the swing...
...and laughed and laughed!  :)

And we went swimming a lot!




Our kids all love the water...including Wren.  She'd swim in the pool until she was shaking and had blue lips.  Then she'd go to the hot tub to warm up.  She's definitely tougher than I am!  I'd spend all my time in the hot tub if my circulation was as poor as hers is!
Wren really wanted to wear goggles.  I happen to hate constantly adjusting goggles and figured it would simply be more work for me, so I told her she really didn't need goggles cause she wasn't putting her face in the water, but if she did, I would certainly help her with her goggles.  Long story short...she was soon wearing goggles, showing off to her siblings how she could put her entire face in the water!
Wren was game to go on the waterslide with her Daddy.  Well, at first she was!  Their first ride down was the most hilarious thing!  Marty was too tall to sit up in order to slow down.  They ended up whizzing down that slide in a few seconds, with Marty losing his balance in the pool and both going under the water!  It was only a second that Wren was under water, and she didn't swallow any water...BUT...she was NOT impressed!  She came out of the water with the most hilarious disgusted look on her face...and all we could do was split our guts laughing!  Needless to say, Wren only wanted to go down with mommy after that! :)
And I cooked...a lot!  We planned a menu and took enough food for each meal.  However, the plan was to eat out at least a few times.  Once we saw the menu we changed our minds.  Take 8 meals times by $15 = $120!  Multiply that by two...that's $240 plus a tip!  Not to mention, most of the meals were not meals that would appeal to our kids.  The view, the meals, and the wine certainly did appeal to Marty and I! 
So I adjusted my attitude, determined to take this time to enjoy cooking.  I really do enjoy cooking if I'm not in a hurry or don't have a million things to do.  We had baked potatoes one day, and having forgotten the tin foil, I opted to use the roaster.  It still had the sticker on it!  After at least 15 years!  Apparently, most people don't need a roaster on their vacation! lol!

We arrived home to some cold weather, but the following days have been warm, with lots of fluffy snow.  I LOVE snowy days!  It's so beautiful!  Not much can make me feel cozier and warmer than soft falling snow and the beautiful view!

We took these snowy days to do some crafts.  We made igloos our of milk jugs and the kids are now using them with their Littlest Pet Shop!  And we made popsicle stick snowmen. 
 I've also started a project that is kinda cool.  I'll try to post it in the next few days...if I get around to completing it!
We had a fairly calm Family Day.  I actually took about an hour to myself in a sort of quiet house.  How did I manage that?  Well, the boys went to chore, and I sent the littlest four outside to play while Marty was outside working.  And I actually got about 45 mins of uninterrupted time!!! Yah!!  That automatically makes for a great day! 
Here's to hoping that all you busy, tired moms can have a few minutes of quiet bliss today!