Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Using the walker

It took me three weeks but I FINALLY got this video on here! Here she is, using her walker. Isn't she amazing????

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.
-Mother Teresa

Please check out John's blog post from this morning.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Little Guy

This is Little Guy. I'm not sure I'm allowed to post his face or his real name, so I'll just call him Little Guy.

Little Guy was removed from his family a couple of weeks ago and is now living in foster care with my sister and her family. My sister is out of town for a few days, so I have had the privilege of caring for my niece and nephew, as well as for Little Guy until she gets back tonight.

So this morning Little Guy was running a little bit of a fever and was obviously not feeling his normal toddler self. I gave him some Tylenol, filled his little sippy cup with cold water, and sat down and snuggled him for a long while, thinking what a shame it was that his own mother was missing out on this sweet bonding experience. I couldn't help but think of the know, the one that talks about giving a cup of cold water in His name.....I couldn't help but feel that there I was, being Jesus to this precious little soul, and all the while, he was being Jesus to me an opportunity to share a cup of cold water with Him. It was a precious experience.

I can't tell you exactly what Jesus looks like, but here is a little peek from behind......

35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,
36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
37 Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?
39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
40 "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' Mt. 25:35-40

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Urban goes Country

We found out that our latest addition, Nelly the Chesapeake Bay retriever, LOVES chicken!!! Live chickens, that is. She ate two of them last week. We heard that once they get a taste of chicken, they'll be chicken lovers forever.

John was worried that my last blog post would make people think he was an incompetent carpenter. He wanted me to clarify that he did put a post up for the baby gate but I asked him to take it down because it didn't look pretty enough. That is the truth. So in case you are still questioning his carpentry skills, take a look at the chicken house he built on Saturday. He really impressed me, as he always does! It's not quite finished but he did all this in just a few hours!

The kids have been taking care of the "chicks" for the most part, with some supervision from John. I went down there a few days ago to find out the "chicks" are chickens!!! Man these things grow fast! I hope we'll have eggs soon. We are learning this farming stuff as we go. Let's hope we didn't end up with all roosters! (Sorry Trisha, I had to give you a hard time :))

And look at this luna moth we found on the side of the barn last night. Luna moths do not have mouths, so they can't eat. They have a lifespan of only about a week, just long enough to mate and make baby luna moths.

Have I mentioned how much I love living in the country?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Owls and baby gates

OK so apparently I don't know anything about bird digestion. I must have slept through bird physiology 101. Owl pellets are not poop but owl regurgitation. Thank you my dear readers for pointing that out. Now don't you all feel better now that you know? And as for all the comments about the quarter in the owl, owl vomit.....Now you know why your mother always told you not to put coins in your mouth.

Now I'm hoping that you all are as savvy about baby gates as you are owls........

We have a little bit of a problem. We definitely have a toddler in the house! She is able to get up the stairs, but still has no clue how to get down. There is concrete at the bottom of the stairs so we need a gate quick!

An anonymous comment was left on my baby gate post recently. Anonymous suggested that my husband needs to take lessons in carpentry and load distribution! I was defensive and deleted the comment right away, only to find out that "Anonymous"......was my husband. Ha ha.

So there are 3 problems with the baby gate:
1. Extra wide staircase...4ft. 3 in
2. No stud opposite of the post
3. Next post is halfway up the staircase
4. Big kids who will need to frequently go upstairs.
5. And remember....concrete at the bottom of the stairs.

Are there baby gates for this scenario? Surely we are not the first ones with this problem!!!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

You know you're a homeschool mom when.......

You get really excited when your kids come home with owl poop! And you get your camera out and take pictures before and after dissecting it to see what the owl ate. I think it was a little mouse. Don't you think?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fishing Buddies and Swimming Buddies

Isn't the mind funny? Funny how two hours ago I was so mad at these four for all the shoes, bobbers, fishing poles, and chewed up bits of trash that were scattered all over the yard, and now, as I'm uploading these pictures, and they're all sound asleep, how sweet and angelic and loveable they seem!!!

Although Ava is perfectly content going to sleep all by herself, the kids think it is a special treat to get to put her to sleep every now and then. Tonight it was Jude's turn. I walked by the room and saw this......(then I totally ruined the moment by turning on the light to take a picture. Ha.) I love how he is shielding her eyes and telling me to "turn the light off, Mom!!!"

On her crib there is a little teddy bear with a pull string that plays Rock A Bye Baby. He attached 3 hangers to the ring and kept pulling it when the song ran out. How sweet and how clever.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

How cute is this????

Her first school pictures.....Awww.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Vacation Pics

As promised, here are a few of my favorite pictures from our weekend at Silver Dollar City. Normally I would put little captions under each photo, but blogger will shift everything around anyway. So I'll save myself the trouble. I particularly loved the last picture! My goofy family! Hope was the bravest of all, begging to ride even the rides that she was 6 inches too short to ride! I was proud of all of my kids for overcoming their temporary fears and riding every ride in the park! The cabin was fun, it had 3 big beds in the loft which totally made me feel like Ma Ingalls. Ava loved the big swing, but as you can see, wasn't too fond of the kiddy coaster. :)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

We've been away on a little family vacation. I've got lots of photos to share but they are on John's laptop and I'm not quite sure how to retrieve them. I'll figure it out and post soon.

Meanwhile, we are back, and there is something that is bugging me and I want to vent about it here.

Apparently there are people who are quite adamant that adoptive families should stick to adopting from their own country and not pursue international adoption. Their reasoning? "There are plenty of kids right here in our own backyard who need families, why 'waste' your time and money traveling across the world to get one." I recently read a couple of blog comments over this and I realized that some people are just downright mean and ugly about it! I've heard the same "argument" about missionaries...that there are plenty of unsaved people right here in our own country. Why should people be asking for support going to foreign countries to share the gospel.

Honestly this mentality doesn't even make sense to me! Are these people saying that only U.S. born children are worthy of having families? And only U.S. residents worthy of hearing the gospel? Yes, there are many children here in the U.S. who are waiting for families, and there are many, many more in foreign countries, who are also waiting for families. While we were in Ukraine, our facilitator told us Ukrainians do not adopt. So what then is supposed to happen to the orphans of the countries where people do not adopt their own kids?

EVERY kid should have a family no matter where they were born!!! (I'll get off my soapbox now)......

Photos coming soon of a little bald Ukrainian girl enjoying her first time at an amusement park.....

Monday, April 13, 2009

A cow on my porch

I looked up from washing the dishes the other day to see this sight. "Mommy, the calf wants to come in. Can I let him in?"

I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. In case you have ever wondered but were afraid to ask, a cow CAN climb stairs. Getting back down those same stairs, however, is another story.

Meet Nelly

Meet our newest family member, Nelly. Nelly is a Chesapeake Bay Retriever whose people both worked full time and didn't have much time to devote to her. She stayed in a crate every day all day and was just needing a place where she could be...well, you know.....a dog. We felt like we needed to give it a week or so trial period before committing, so we told the kids that we were just dog-sitting for the week. We knew Nelly belonged here when, on the last day of "dog-sitting", everyone was in tears and not wanting to say good-bye to her. Welcome home, Nelly. The really cool thing was that the end of the trial period fell on Liesel's birthday, so I put a bow on her head and called her the grand finale gift.

She is such a cool dog! She knows all kinds of tricks, loves to chase her tail and play fetch and jump in the pond. She seems really, really happy here and we like her a lot.

In case anyone on either side of the family is wondering, no we did not name her after any of the grandmothers, great aunts, cousins, or any of the other Nelly's or Nell's in the family. She was Nelly when she came to us, and we just decided Nelly was what she was going to stay. I hope nobody is offended. :)

Bridge to Cross

We enjoyed having our very dear friends, the Koens, with us for a few days last week. We have been honored to be a witness to what God has done in their lives over the past four years as He has called them back to their home country, South Africa, as missionaries. In a country where there is so much racism, poverty, disease, and hopelessness, they are going to be bringing God's hope "across the bridge", the very area where they were forbidden to go into, growing up, because whites and blacks DO NOT mingle, that is just how it is there. They will be one of the few white people to cross over into the shanti towns to bring the message of God's love and hope. We have been amazed to see their faith grow and their trust in God as He is leading them back to the place they thought they would never return to. It has honestly been beautiful to watch.

They will be leaving in June. If you have a chance, please check out what they will be doing there. There are many ways to get involved, financially as well as being a physical part of their ministry by going and doing! One of my favorite parts of this ministry is the opportunity for many people, even stay at home mothers like me to be a part of an African child's life by communicating via Skype, maybe teaching, or reading a book to a preschooler. So much training and mentoring can happen across the globe.....through Skype. Won't that be cool?

Bridge To Cross....bringing Hope to the Hopeless. Check it out. We love you Koen family and support what you are doing 100%! You will be in our prayers.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Ava's baldness is quickly growing on me. She still gets quite a few stares and whispers but I am learning to smile and ignore them (as well as learning to pack the sunscreen in my purse EVERYWHERE I go, even when it's cloudy!) Today Liesel saw some boys pointing and heard them whispering about the little girl with cancer. I figured that would be the assumption. I took her to another dermatologist on Friday to get a second opinion. Basically she (the doctor) said the same as the first. Alopecia is very difficult to treat, and there is very little that can be done, especially when it onsets at such a young age and over such a large area of the scalp. She gave me several options, one being "what she would do if it were her daughter". That is all she had to say to make me agree to try it. It is a topical cream that is usually used for warts, but somehow, sometimes, makes hair grow. No promises, but we decided it was worth a try. Funny thing is, after the appointment, Hope asked me,"Mommy, why do you want Ava's hair to grow now? She looks so cute with her bald head!" I am so glad everyone in the family agrees, "she looks so cute with a bald head". I loved watching Simeon carrying her around in front of all his soccer teammates today, as proud as any brother could be.

Meanwhile, here is a rare picture. Ava wearing a hat. It lasted all of 3 minutes, but at least I got a cute picture of her. For your (and my) blogging enjoyment.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

For Alison...

Me....and my Mini Me. :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A birthday girl

Dear Liesel,
I loved that you wanted to have a "B" birthday this year. Boots, a Bible, a Bliss stuffed dog, a bike, and a Butterfinger bar. I'm glad all your birthday wishes came true. :) I can hardly believe 9 years has passed since I held that little curly black-haired slippery girl in my arms for the first time. I will never forget calling Opa just minutes before midnight to tell him his grandaughter had just been born on his birthday. I enjoy listening to you and Opa on the phone every year wishing each other a Happy Birthday. Everybody always tells me how much you look like me. I have to say, when I found my third grade school pictures in the attic recently, I have to agree! I also have to laugh when I see you protecting the frogs from your tormenting brothers. I remember doing the same thing when I was your age. I love that your most treasured birthday gift this year was your Bible from Aunt Marlita and Uncle Juan. It is so nice to walk by your room and seeing you reading from God's word. I hope you will always seek Him first in your life. I love you Liesel Charlotte. Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Friends who decorate

I am blessed with a friend who is artistic, great at decorating, AND generous with her time. The way she shows love is by coming over to your house with her tool kit, usually with a bunch of frames and knick knacks in her trunk, "just in case" there is a corner in your house somewhere that needs something. Not to mention, she is really fun to hang out with. I LOVE having a friend like that.

A couple of weeks ago she and I were brainstorming ideas for the girls' room. (Hope and Ava share a room). I asked Hope how long she would like to share a room with Ava, and she said, "For 99-99-9-9-9-9-9-9 years......FOREVER." :)

Anyway, Nancy asked me to email her a picture of the 3 girls together for an idea she had. A few days later, look what she surprised me with! She got this canvas "with an ugly picture on it", she said, for $12. She told me to "just paint over it" when I'm tired of it or want a new look! There is NO WAY I am EVER painting over this. Isn't it wonderful??? I find myself wanting to hang out in the girls' room just to look at this beautiful picture.

By the way Nancy happens to have her own decorating business that she runs with a friend of hers. If you are local and need some help these two ladies do a really, really great job!! THANK YOU NANCY!!

Monday, April 6, 2009

More thoughts about alopecia

Thanks for all the kind comments about Ava! I never imagined I would be shaving my child's hair off but it got to the point that what little hair she had left (basically 3 strands of it) was so matted and tangled that it just seemed to me the best thing to do. My sister came over to offer me emotional support and video taped the whole thing, my tears and all! I will say it was one of the hardest things I have ever done! I'll be honest, I'm struggling with the whole thing. When I took her out in public over the weekend several times, she got so many stares! I feel like I'm already in a battle to get people to accept the Down Syndrome, and now no hair too? In addition to the stares she came home from the soccer games on Saturday with a pretty bad sunburn on top of her head. I thought she was under the canopy of the stroller but she kept leaning forward into the sun. :( Time to start carrying sunscreen in my purse!

I've had several people ask about alopecia, what it is exactly and how it affects the hair. From what I understand it is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks the hair follicles, similar to what chemotherapy does in cancer patients. From what I read it is mostly triggered by stress, again, something that is very difficult for me to hear. I would like to think her transition here has been easy and smooth, but I suppose she has spent the last year basically in a new culture with a new language, new food, and basically strangers that want to hold her all the time. I suppose that would be enough stress to lose your hair. I pray that the hair will start growing back once she has transitioned completely. On the upside, the girl is NEVER sick! I suppose the two have something to do with each other.

Interestingly I met a lady at church on Sunday whose daughter is affected by alopecia. The daughter is 12 years old and, according to her mother, is not bothered a bit by it. She has been completely bald 4 times yet refuses to wear the many hats and wigs her mother has purchased for her over the years. :)

Speaking of hats, it doesn't look like Ava will be one to leave them on either. She thought it was really funny at Big Lots the other night to take her hat off and throw it as far as she could to see Mom chasing after it again and again. On the other hand, she is quite preoccupied with her new bald head and enjoys stroking it all the time.

So, getting to my point in writing this blog post. Even though I am struggling with how people will accept her, the guilt of wondering what stress I have put her through to cause all her hair to fall out, the sunburned head, and questions about the future, whether it will ever grow back, am I doing enough for her, etc....I received a special gift Friday afternoon when Ava got off the school bus, in her backpack, that I want to share with you. It was as if God was saying, So she lost her hair, so what? Look what she is gaining.
(In case you can't read it the note says.....Ava walked from the classroom to the office with her walker. Ava is doing very well with her walker.)
By the way, we have an appointment with another dermatologist on Friday. Please pray this next doctor will give us a better prognosis and hopefully more options.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Bald IS beautiful!

I have been agonizing for weeks as I have watched Ava's hair fall out piece by piece. For all this time I have been able to still pull it up into a tiny whale spout on top of her head, but it has gotten to where there is not even enough for that anymore.

I cried before, during, and then had a big cry after it was done, but now that I have finally brought myself to do it, I really think she looks perfect!

And in case you are wondering how a mother could possibly shave her little girl's hair completely off, maybe this "before" picture will explain....