Sunday, December 25, 2011

Dante's Christmas

Dante has had a bad cold since last Monday, but when he woke up Friday morning with his right arm bright red I knew we were not dealing with just a cold anymore.  After a brief stay in the Emergency Room, Dante was admitted to the hospital with cellulitis from a Strep infection, and is still there today.  If all goes well, he will be able to return home tomorrow.  As bad as it looks in the photo below, that is actually much better than Friday when it was at its worst.

Not only is today Kimberly's first Christmas, it is the first Christmas we have not all been together as a family.  Jamie and I have been switching off staying with Dante in his hospital room.  Jamie was here with the kids for opening gifts this morning, then he and several of the kids brought gifts into the hospital for Dante and I.  Thankfully Dante's pain level has been going down as his IV antibiotics are taking effect, and we had a pleasant visit.
 It had been decided this morning that Dante's swelling was not going down quickly enough, so his arm was wrapped in gauze and put into a sling holding his right hand up near his left shoulder, to try to reduce the swelling.  Dante was not cooperative during the process, but once it was in place he seemed relieved to have it wrapped and immobile.
 Despite having his right hand trapped and his left arm slowed down by an IV with two lines plus a fascinating new toy, Dante still managed to reach that nagging itch.
 Dr. Leif is in the house!  Whenever a doctor or nurse walked into his room Dante tensed up and showed resistance to whatever they intended to do.  Sometimes he fought more than others, depending on how long it had been since his last dose of Motrin.  So I was very surprised when he allowed Leif and Amelia to play doctor on him.

Today was not how we planned to spend Christmas, but Jamie and I did spend an hour together at the hospital between his morning at home with the kids and my afternoon/evening with them.  We are blessed to have had that time together, and to try to keep it as normal as possible for the rest of the kids.  I am thankful that this is only a skin infection, painful as it has been for Dante, and not a terminal illness or one of many hospital stays for treatments or surgeries. 

Tomorrow I will go back to join Jamie at the hospital, hopefully to bring our Dante home. 

God is good!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Gift Horse

A few years ago Nikita discovered that she loves horses.  A lot.  She began taking lessons, and for her 13th birthday Nana and I took her to a ranch in Tennessee for several days.  Since then she has leased a horse at Camp Marshall, then bought her own horse, and recently sold her horse in the hopes of getting one better suited to her needs.

Nearly every day she tells me about one online that she has found, and her mentor at camp helps her decide if this one is good for her.  Nearly every day.  Ok, actually every day I hear about a horse for her.

So when we were recently offered a free horse, how could I say no?  It is slightly smaller than she usually likes, but downsizing saves money on hay, grain, and stall rental since this sweet girl could fit in the paddock with our goats.

Well, I should have remembered that teenage daughters can be hard to please.

"Not this big, this big!"
 I even tried to tell her that she should never look a gift horse in the mouth.

 Maybe we can get some stilts for our new mini?
"Missy" has been used as a therapy horse, but she needed a new home.  Nikita put me in contact with her owner, and things all fell into place.  She is a sweetie, and will get so much attention here!  Nik said Missy likes being groomed, which was Micah's favorite thing to do with our previous pony.

God is good!

Now to go see a photo of the next horse Nikita has found...praying she finds the perfect one soon!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Photo!

Today we took some photos of all 9 kids- together!  There is not a single perfect shot, but since I am incapable of giving perfection, I was not expecting it either. 

We have to choose one for Christmas cards, and soon.  Here are a few, plus 2 cute ones of Kimberly and some our tree going up:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Falling in Love

Yesterday marked the 2 month anniversary of Kimberly joining our family.  That day in Boston seems so far behind us now.

Jamie and I began our fifth adoption journey back in the Spring, initially thinking we would be going to Ghana, and then we thought our daughter was in Estonia.  It is not uncommon in the adoption world for parents to switch countries, or for the child at the end of the adoption journey to not be the same one they envisioned at the beginning of the adoption journey.  Therefore I should not have been surprised at the changes for us, but here I am, with a little 2 month old baby when I never considered we would be blessed with such a wee one.

My feelings for Kimberly were so conflicted the first few weeks of her joining us.  This domestic adoption is so entirely different from any of our international adoptions.  They were all so....anonymous.  Each of our internationally adopted children was left at the hospital or orphanage by their birthparents because of being born with Down Syndrome.  I was not required to spend time thinking about their emotions.  

I did not have to look them in the eye and promise to love their child as much as they do, even as the tears in their eyes made it clear how great was their love for her.  I did not have to promise to make sure that even though she is the youngest of 9 she will get just as much love and attention as if she were our only one. 

With our anonymous adoptions I was able to be the Mommy that gives that an orphan a home, and secretly wonder how a woman could carry a child for 9 months and then give her away because her country's culture or society might make it difficult to raise a child with Down Syndrome. (Let's be honest, what adoptive parent has never once thought like this, even if it isn't our place to judge?)

This time was different.  The first few weeks I felt like I was simply raising someone else's child for them.  I loved her like I had promised, but she was not my baby, she was still theirs.  We did not change Kimberly's  name out of respect for them, but sometimes I thought we should have, that it would make her more mine if Jamie and I had chosen her name. 

Slowly I stopped feeling like I was doing her birthparents some huge favor, and she became my daughter.  I stopped feeling guilt for taking her when maybe I should have found a way to make it possible for them to raise her.  After all, were their circumstances their fault?  Who was I to agree to take a baby from loving parents and raise her as my own?

Kimberly's birthparents made a decision, probably their most difficult ever, based on sacrificial love.  They are amazing people who truly loved their daughter, and wanting to be Kimberly's mother gave me a lot of guilt.  The first few weeks were hard, but I no longer feel like I am raising someone else's baby.  She is my daughter, I am her mother, and we are blessed.

And still, I cannot stop thinking about all the babes left in the orphanages.  I do not know the emotions of their birthparents, but having seen the photos and read the stories of some of those places, I cannot help but think that there is nothing sacrificial about leaving a wee one there.  I know that there have to be some amazing parents in those countries who are doing what they can to erase the stigma of having a special needs child. 

If you would like to consider adopting a child with Down Syndrome, or supporting a family who is in process, please visit Reece's Rainbow to learn more.  You can also help raise grants on individual children so they are more likely to be chosen for adoption-- because it is very expensive. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Two Months and Growing

Kimberly had her 2 month appointment today!  When we met her October 5th she weighed 7 pounds 5 ounces, today (7 weeks later) she weighed 8 pounds 14 ounces, and has grown 1 1/2 inches!!  In the above photo she is wearing the same outfit as when we first laid eyes on our daughter.  She was swimming in it then, and it fits her perfectly now. 

Our baby girl is healthy and growing well, even starting to coo.
God is good!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Time Passes

Tomorrow Kimberly will be 2 months old.  I cannot believe it has been this long; she joined our family when she was just 2 weeks old.  She is an easy baby, but even so with 9 kids in the house now we are extremely busy.  I feel like I am always one step behind what needs to be done-- and at least two loads behind the laundry!  I am having the hardest time lately not coveting a laundry room.  And a 9 passenger SUV.  But God is good, and we do have everything we need.

 Amelia:  Ame is doing so well. She has glasses now!  Her eyes have been watery, so I will be making an appointment to check that the prescription is right where it should be.  She is such an incredible help around the house.

Sunny:  Our beautiful Sunny is thriving at school; she is very eager to please her teacher.  She is my only girly-girl, and loves dolls.  She does not try to hold Kimberly or feed her, but since Kimberly joined our family Sunny has spent a lot more time playing with and caring for her baby doll.  She does keep an eye on Kimberly for me though! (Kimberly is asleep in the bassinet in the photo below.)

Micah:  Micah is the scholar of the little ones, excelling at reading in school.  He has a hearing aid now, his second one actually.  His first one "disappeared" after a week, but this new one has a little leash and clips to his collar.  I was mortified that I couldn't even keep track of a hearing aid for a week!  Micah is profoundly deaf in his right ear, and has moderate hearing loss in his left. 
 Dante:  Our super special Dante is doing so well.  I think it is a combination of several factors:  his open heart surgery, being dairy free (and therefore eczema free) for many months now, and the routine and therapies of school.  He also loves his iPad.  The iPad is definitely the single smartest investment we have made.  He can pull up videos and games like a pro.

Leif:  Dante might be super-special, but Leif is on the road to being super-spoiled!  He is the happiest little guy who just throws himself into the center of everything.  These days he is starting to show some temper when he is reminded that he isn't always allowed front and center.  He absolutely LOVES Kimberly, and gives her kisses galore.  The other day when she was on the floor for tummy time, he sat down near her head and watched out for her.  I cannot wait to see how he watches out for her when they are older.

Leif also loves to spend time outside, and will often bring up a shoe to put on.  It does not matter whose it is, or that it is just one, but if he has a shoe on he will try to go outside.  He especially loves to feed the goats, and knows exactly where the hay is kept.  Leif also recently enjoyed a visit from Uncle Zach and Aunt Anna.  We went to Higgins Armory, where they created a foam arch together.

 Kimberly:  Our baby girl is so wonderful.  She is spending a lot more time awake and alert, is eating more at her feedings, and turns toward the sound of our voices.  She is working on head control, although she does not always appreciate tummy time.  Her Early Intervention has started, so a therapist will be visiting us weekly to help us know how to help her. 

We are a busy household, and the days are just flying by.  During this season of gratitude with Thanksgiving approaching, I am aware every day of what a blessing each of my children are. Jamie and I are truly thankful for the family we have, even when it seems like time is passing too quickly and we aren't quite keeping up.  Some day the house will be completely organized and clean, the yard will be neat and pretty, but for now all we wish for is a little more sleep!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Four Years Ago

It is never a good thing to hear your phone ring at 4:18am.  Ours rang at that time four years ago today, and I learned that Dad had died.  Not only did my siblings and I have to cope with that thoroughly unexpected event, it started us on an odyssey of coping with a mother who simply could not handle the death of her husband.  Mom ended up living with us from December 2007-March 2008.  Because of her bad decisions in dealing with grief, she missed Thanksgiving, Dad's funeral, and Christmas that year, instead spending those events in a hospital.  It was not until she moved out  that I was able to simply miss my Dad.  His death had caused the 4 worst months of my life.

Four years ago today.  He has been at complete peace and sitting with Jesus for 4years, and that is a wonderful thing. The grief and resentment have long since passed, now I simply miss him.

God is good.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Just can't stay awake

Cold season is taking its first swipe at the kids.  And Jamie?  He's just tired, poor daddy.  Kimberly is exactly in her favorite place to sleep, though. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Leif Discovers his Belly Button!

 And he loves his baby sister too!

Enough of the photos already!