Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Preparations...and an Update.

One of my favorite memories as a kid is all the secret preparations of Christmas.  Making things, trying to guess who had who in Christmas box and trying not to let all the other 12 kids in the house know whose name I had drawn.  This year I get to watch that excitement in my kids as they make gifts for each other and work hard to keep secrets!
This year we are having a less expensive Christmas and have been creative in what we are giving our kids.  Last winter as I was sewing place mats, Alex and Morgun were begging to do some sewing.  It may seem kind of odd for a boy to be interested in sewing, but I think it is rather cool.  Some lucky girl will be very thankful to have a man that not only knows how to cook and clean, but also knows how to sew!  :)  Anyhow, I promised that if I had scraps left over they could use them to make place mats for the girls to use in their play kitchen.  Both boys have been sewing with the machine and hand stitching the edging...and they're having a blast!   Their gift to the girls cost exactly...$0!!  How cool is that!?!

Last night we attended Osler School's annual Christmas Concert.  And once again we were impressed!  Each student from K to grade 6 had a part on stage as well as being in the choir.  Incredible!  The staff and students work so hard every year to turn out a spectacular performance!  Thank you Osler School!
One of the highlights of the evening was listening to the entire student body...K to grade 9... sing a modified version of "Hallelujah!"  as a tribute to all the lives lost and those affected by the shooting in New Town, CT.    This was followed by an emotional proclamation by our Vice Principal saying "At Osler School we do not celebrate a Festival.  We celebrate CHRISTMAS!"  So to say I am proud of our school is an understatement!
Morgun was not impressed to be dressed as a chef holding a cookie.  He thought it was childish and boring.  I thought he looked very handsome!...and cute!!  lol!

Malia was thrilled to dress up and have her hair curled.  Her excitement shone through in her singing, and the part she had on stage.

And once again we were privileged to have a real baby Jesus who slept through the entire concert.

On a side note...
This past week Malia had her Cleft lip/palate clinic.  It is a day where we go to the hospital and see all the different specialists that will be/are involved in all of Malia's upcoming surgeries....9 to be exact.  At this point we still do not have an actual plan as to when surgeries will begin, nor do we know in what order.  However, we did learn a few more things about our precious girl and all she has been through. 
We now know that she has moderate hearing loss in her right ear and minor hearing loss in her left ear due to all the ear infections she had while in China.  This damage can not be repaired, however the specialist is hoping to be able to do some more cleaning of the ear which should improve Malia's hearing slightly.  This hearing loss does not have a huge impact on Malia's everyday life, but it does explain why she speaks so loudly.  We have been advised to make sure she is sitting further to the front, on the right side of the classroom so she can hear better.  Her hearing loss is such that it could affect such things as understanding instructions given by the teacher, in particular spelling dictations.
We also learned that Malia's cleft lip and palate is considered a "severe" case.  This means that the initial surgeries would have been a challenge and future procedures will also be a challenge.  Malia has a little knobby piece of skin/cartilage in her upper mouth where her two front teeth are coming in.  This knobby piece is very mobile and needs to come forward.   There are several options as to how to do this.  If an appliance is used to move this forward it will create a hole in the top of her mouth.  The doctors are not sure that Malia is mature enough to handle having this appliance in her mouth.   Another option is to perform surgery to move this piece forward, still creating a hole, and then go from there.  After this has been done a tongue flap will be sewn to the roof of Malia's mouth to cover the hole created.  This means that a sliver of tongue will be sewn to the roof of her mouth while still attached, to allow blood to flow freely to create a better graft.  After several weeks this will be cut completely allowing Malia to once again speak freely. Her teeth are rotated and will eventually need to be straightened.  The roof of Malia's mouth is rigid, also creating challenges. 
The plastic and oral surgeons are impressed with the work done in China, even though the technique used is an old one.  Having said that, the procedure used is one that makes the cleft lip a little more obvious.  Malia is very self conscious of her lip and can not wait to have it "fixed".   She seems to think that once it is fixed it will not be visible at all.  Unfortunately that is not the case.  However, with all the new techniques being used there is much that can be done to minimize the look associated with a repaired cleft lip.  One option is to have a tattoo placed on the scar lines to match the rest of Malia's skin tone.  How cool!!
At this appointment we once again got to see Dr. Sondervan...he's the plastic surgeon that retired, leaving Saskatoon without a plastic surgeon to perform cleft lip/palate surgeries.  Patients have been referred to Regina since his retirement.  We love Dr. Sondervan!  He is a godly man who credits his success to the healing hands of God.  Gotta love that!  Dr. Sondervan has continued to help out at the cleft lip/palate clinics each month, for which we are incredibly grateful. 
We were happy to hear that Saskatoon will be getting another plastic surgeon, who specializes in cleft lip/palate, sometime in the New Year.  So thankful for that!  I had not looked forward to heading to Regina for Malia's surgeries.  So thankful that God is once again meeting our needs before we even asked!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Growing Pains

I've started writing this post many times and the words don't seem to come. It's been on my mind for at least a month and I'm still not sure how to say what I am feeling.  I've hesitated in writing because I am afraid that I will come across as an ungrateful whiner.  That is not my intent.  Rather, my intent is to glorify God in His never ending mercy and love.  To show how He is working in me/us.  How he is faithful.  How He is there in these times of growing pains.

 I ask that those that come here to visit do that...visit with me.  Please leave a least if it's a positive one.    Based on the number of people stopping by...well, lets just say I'm beginning to feel like there are a lot of people "eavesdropping".  I'd much prefer if you joined the conversation...or find another conversation to join.   Please do not read this with the intent to critique, give advice, or read into things I say. I understand that not every person can leave a comment every time.  And I'm fine with that.

Yes, I am feeling a tad bit vulnerable because this is a topic most of us don't like to talk about...especially me.  It's an awkward topic.  We all have different opinions on it and it is a sensitive topic.

As you know this is our third adoption.  The third time we are trying to figure out how to get the necessary funds.  It has been a challenge each time.  Obviously, this time is even more of a challenge.  I do not want to go into specific detail as to where we are at with our every day finances.  It is personal, and people, not even family or close friends, need to know all the specifics.  What I will say is that in the past 6 months I've thought my blog title is certainly incorrect when it comes to finances.  "Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel"  might be more appropriate.  Haha!  Ok, so not funny, but that's my warped sense of humor at this time.  Our cup is certainly not overflowing in regards to finances.

We have prayed.  We have saved.  We have cut back.  We have worked extra hard.  We have prayed some more asking God to show us how to use His money...after all, everything we have belongs to Him.  We have prayed, seeking guidance as we pursue various fundraising options.  We continue to tithe.  We continue to reach out to those in need.  We have done everything that some say we should do to be blessed financially and yet we do not have enough funds.  Please understand that we do what we do in obedience to God...not to gain anything in any manner.

We try to trust God.  We try to have faith, to not worry.  Some days we fail miserably.  Some days we succeed in giving it all over to God. 

I wish I could say that trusting has been the greatest difficulty.  Unfortunately, it's not.

Before you read more, I ask that you understand the following....

Please do not get me wrong. We are incredibly grateful for all the support we have been and other. It warms our hearts every time someone supports us in some way. We will forever remember these kind and generous gifts and deeds.  These acts of kindness literally give us the strength to press on.  However, things have been difficult.

The most difficult aspect has been humbly asking for help and being critiqued.  Being vulnerable.  We were not prepared for what we have encountered.  Not once did we realize how incredibly vulnerable we would be.   We knew others would look at our home, our vehicles, our life style and come to some sort of conclusion.  What we did not realize is that people tend to not trust our judgement when we say we have a need.   Nor did we realize  how difficult it would be to actually gather funds.  I suppose we naively made the assumption that most people would gladly help in giving an orphan a forever family (and many have been extremely generous!)  We naively came to the conclusion that it would only take 200 to 250 people to give $100 each...or 400 -500 to give $50 each and we would have the funds needed.  We naively assumed that because we live in a predominately Christian community, most would see and understand the need and it would not be all that difficult. 

I suppose we had thought that in our community, a community filled with godly, well to do people, folks like us would not have to reach out to organizations like ABBA Canada asking for an adoption grant  (which, by the way, is the only organization that offers adoption grants at this time.  There is one other organization based in BC, but at the moment their funds are very low) .  We have procrastinated, waiting, hoping that somehow, something would happen so we would not be another application for ABBA Canada to process, placing more weight on their already tight budget.   We understand that even if...and the "if"  is a big one...get a grant, it will likely be a few thousand dollars at the most.  Of coarse we would be thrilled and grateful!  But the truth is that even a $10,000 grant still leaves us with almost $15,000 short of what we need.

We have seriously looked into selling our home.  So far all the doors keep getting shut...and we're not sure why.  We've done all we can think to do.  There have been times where we have seriously considered aborting this adoption.  But we do not have peace about that.  It is what we feel called to do and to say "no" now would feel like a forced abortion.

The above is a glimpse of what we've experienced, what's been going through our minds. It has been a difficult time.  However, we are choosing to not dwell on the above, but rather to focus on God and His faithfulness, His tender mercies, His gifts.  Daily we make the choice to praise thank Him for all He has given us.  We chose daily to trust Him.  In doing so we have experienced the most incredible freedom and peace.  I am finally sleeping much better.  I no longer lie awake for hours at a time.  And that alone makes me smile!   

We have concluded that asking for financial support is not "our cup of tea" and therefore, we will not ask for more help.  We will send our grant application to ABBA Canada.   We will still be promoting /raising funds through Once Was Lost and our adoption necklace and dog tag will still be available at Jubilee's Jewels, but that's about it.  We are trusting that God will provide...and if the funds don't come in...well...I choose not to let my mind go there.

We have decided to come along side others that are in the same position we are in.  To offer support to them.  To do what we can to help another child find his or her forever family.

Most importantly we are choosing to count our blessings.  Today I am so very thankful for:
 -the laughter of 4 kids safe and happy in my home
-a husband that loves God and walks beside me everyday
-all the excitement of all the secret preparations!
-the mountains of snow we have this year
-God's gift of allowing for me to have some time to rejuvenate with my sister
-Peppermint Hot Chocolate
-funny movies
-a good nights sleep
-God's promise in Psalm 105:7-8..."He's God, our God, in charge of the whole earth.  And he remembers, remembers his Covenant-for a thousand generations he's been as good as his word."
-my bloggy friends who understand and're the best!

Would you join me in in praising God and being thankful?  I'd love to hear what you are thankful for today.  :)

Keep your eyes open for God, watch for his works; be alert for signs of his presence.
Psalm 105:5

Monday, December 17, 2012

This n' That

I'm still working on a post that has been weighing on my heart.   It's still not done.  So for now, I'll share a little of the ordinary winter/Christmas stuff.
We've had a lot of snow this winter.  Enough for Martin to make a sledding hill for the kids.  Raina was totally excited and stood at the window watching and exclaiming "Papa make me a castle!"  Now all we need is some warm weather so we can enjoy the outdoors!  And less appointments!  (In 3 weeks we've had 13 appointments!...One being an all day appointment with the cleft lip/palate clinic)

Every Christmas I bake the most requested goodies my family wants.  They include gingersnaps dipped in white chocolate and sprinkled with icing sugar, shortbread, jam jams, and nuts n' bolts.  This year I have made 6 batches of gingersnaps and 3 batches of nuts n' bolts.  They were the top sellers at my fundraising party.  My favorite... to make... is the nuts n' bolts.  Very easy and a "healthier" choice during the Christmas season.  I always use my old fashioned bahk cum...translated baking bowl.  It's exactly like the one my mom used to bake bread.  I used this bowl to mix my bun dough until I bought a Bosch mixer.  I had thought of getting rid of it...but being a little nostalgic...decided to keep it.  None of my other bowls work as well for nuts n' bolts...and it reminds me of warm winter days, coming home from school to the smell of freshly baked buns...and of my mom.

Nuts N' Bolts
1 regular size box Cheerios
1 regular size box Shreddies(I prefer Chex)
2 lbs shelled peanuts
 (I omit the peanuts for about half the recipe, so the kids can have some for snack at their "nut free" school)
1 bag pretzels
2 cups Mazola Oil
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (I add extra)
1/2 tsp garlic salt (I prefer garlic powder and I add a little extra)
1/2 tsp seasoning salt
Mix first 4 ingredients in a roaster.  Mix oil, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and seasoning salt.  Add to cereal mixture and stir well.  Bake at 200 degrees F for 2 hours stirring every 1/2 hour. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Two Years With Raina

Two years ago today we met our precious Raina Liuji Marie.  It was an incredibly emotional day.  I will forever treasure that day in my heart.
Raina has grown from a quiet, unsure little girl to a confident, happy girl that loves to laugh and tease.  For about the first 6 months, upon awakening, she would lie in her crib, look at me as though trying to figure out who I was.  She always came to me, but upon wakening it seemed she needed to think a bit before deciding it was in fact safe to let that odd looking woman hold her.  It took about a year for her to totally warm up to Martin.  Martin was incredibly patient, but it paid off.   Now she LOVES her Daddy!  When I discipline her or she's sad she says, "I want my Daddy!  He hug me!"
Raina still tends to be reserved around strangers or people she hasn't seen in awhile.  However, this is slowly changing as well.  Now we're teaching her to not talk to strangers!
Raina is incredibly independent for her age.  If she wants something, she finds a way to get it...even if it means climbing from one chair to stool to counter, or dresser to bed.  She loves food and still tends to not have a "fill" button.  She is constantly in my pantry begging for food 5 mins after she's eaten.
Raina has a huge, gentle heart and loves to pray.  For the past 6 months (at least) she has prayed "Dear God, Peas help my birvday day be good, and help Gamma and Gampa have good sleep!"  Now that she finally had her birthday she prays, "Dear God, Peas help my brudder come home soon!"  When asked what she wanted for Christmas she replied "I want my brudder.  Open him up!"  :)
Raina is indeed the baby of the family...and she knows it!  Alex and Morgun tend to dot on her and spoil her...although they all say I'm the one that spoils her!  lol!  I'm sure I do!  Being an older parent certainly has it's benefits. I have much more patience and don't get stressed about the little things...and if that translates into spoiling...oh be it! 
Malia and Raina love to play together and they are beginning to communicate at a deeper level.  Raina is no longer the little sister that can be bossed around.  She has her own opinion and is sure to let Malia know that!  She loves to play with her dolls, pretend to be a waitress or doctor, and loves to "read" or be read to.  She loves to walk around with "her" Bible (it's actually Malia's).  She is convinced that one of her Christmas gifts is a Bible simply because it has that shape.  Her favorite show is DORA.  Almost everyday she will beg ask if she can watch her precious DORA.  She even talks in Dora's sing songy voice, and repeats things three times!  :)  She likes VEGGIE TALES as well, but she tends to think that some of them are scary.
We are so very blessed to have Raina join our family!  There's not a dull moment with her around!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


I remember the day like it was yesterday.  Five years ago today we were headed to the city for a doctors appointment when we got the call..."We think you should head to the hospital.  Mom is not doing well.  We think this is it."
I remember... heading to the hospital, praying we would make it in time
... rushing in tears streaming down my face
...pulling myself together before entering Mom's room
...the quiet in the room
...the peace
...seeing Mom take her last breath as she entered heaven's gates
...explaining to my 4 and 6 year old that Grandma had passed away
...hugging them tight
...literally feeling the prayers of others
...somehow having strength to do what needed to be done
...making the phone calls
...planning the funeral
...thanking God that Cancer had been defeated, that Mom had been healed
...thanking God that the ugliness of cancer was no longer my reality...the smell, the disposing of bloody vomit, the exhaustion that comes with caring for a loved one 24/7, the frantic baking to cover the smell of imminent death...
...grieving and truly understanding the saying "my heart hurts"...cause it literally did.

Today my heart is heavy as it usually is when I remember.  The pain never completely goes away although time does heal.

Today I remember my mom for the warrior she was.  Raising 13 kids, 2  miscarriages, the death of one child and still choosing to worship her Savior and smiling through it all.   Praying for her kids everyday.  Striving to live a godly life.  Not leaving her husband when most would have...choosing instead to listen to God and hear His promise of "someday your husband will be a godly man!"

Today I remember my Mom's all time favorite song "Amazing Grace".  This version is played on the bagpipes...something we normally reserve for our fallen hero's...war hero's, firefighters and such.  Today I listen to this in remembrance of my fallen Mom!

On a side note:

Today we have the added grief of my nephew and his wife, Josh and Rachel losing their little girl, Victoria Grace, after only spending an hour with her.   (Victoria Grace was born with the majority of her organs outside of her body.  I believe it is called ompholocele)  We pray for precious Elizabeth Andrea, born at 30 weeks, as she fights for her life...and for Josh and Rachel as they try to take it all in, grieve and celebrate, worry and wait.  Would you please join us in makes everything so much more doable.  Thanks!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Merry Christmas- Third Day (with lyrics)

It's been way too long since my last post.  I've had so many thoughts and emotions running through my head and heart.  I've sat down numerous times to write a post, but somehow I either write and don't post...OR I can't put the words onto paper. 

I came across this song and it so accurately discribes where we are at...praying God will hold our little one tight each and every day.