Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Monkey's Day

Here's a few memories from Monkey's day!
I started singing "Happy Birthday" to him, and he stopped me just a few words into the song. "No, Mom. Sing it the 'I live with the monkeys' way, because I like monkeys." So I sang it the "monkey way" with him bopping happily along. "Happy birthday to you, you live in a zoo, you smell like a monkey, and you act like one too."
Enjoy the pictures!!!!
Grandma bought him this scooter toy, where you sort of wiggle back and forth and the scooter moves forward. You should've heard him giggle when he realized he got to drive "for real".

Obviously, big brother has not yet perfected the motion.

The smile (even in a blurry picture) says it all.

He has a toy gun and tin can shooting "alley". Need I say more?

To My Son's Birthmother, on His Birthday

Dear Monkey's birthmom,

I am thinking of you today. Five years ago, sometime while we slept, completely unaware of the way our life was changing, you gave birth to a squalling, scrawny baby boy in a third world hospital on the other side of the world. Twenty one months later, I would stand outside that very hospital room and wonder what it was like for you to give birth in those conditions - beds shared with other laboring mothers, and in most cases, without sheets or blankets. I wonder who attended you, who saw our son enter into the world and take his first breath, and if those people realized what a very precious gift they were holding in their hands.

I know there were many different choices you could have made for him and for your life. No matter what else you have done right or wrong, I am so incredibly thankful that you made the choices you did - that you chose life when you wouldn't have had too, and that you chose to hand over his care to a wonderful, loving, and safe organization that would eventually deliver him into my arms.

I wonder what that day was like, when he was taken from the hospital to CSC. Were there tears in your eyes as you held him for that last time? Did you think of him as your body ached and healed from the effort of giving him birth? I wonder what he thought as he saw his very first Caucasian faces, as they picked him up, held him gently, fed him, and consoled him on the ride that would eventually lead him to me.

I think about all of the people at CSC who cared for him during the months that followed - that saw his first smile, comforted him after his surgery, saw him take his first steps, and celebrated his very first birthday....all before I was even aware that I had another son.

And I think of the day I finally held him in my arms. He didn't really like me much at first - I was a stranger, and he was quite happy with his familiar caregivers at CSC. His life was taking another huge turn, and he was too young to understand the significance.

And now, he can't imagine having ever lived without us. And we can't imagine life without him.

So, dear birthmother, I think of you today. And I thank you. It is our son's fifth birthday.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook for 3/30/09

FOR TODAY...March 30th, 2009

Outside my window...The sun is trying to peak out from behind the clouds. The snow is completely gone from our yard, and the temperatures are beginning to get warm enough for spending more time outside.

I am thinking...
about how frustrating it is to see other adoptive families that we are close to being judged so harshly by others regarding their children's behaviors. Why is it so difficult for people to understand that children who have damaged brains from early neglect and trauma, or from early drug exposures are not likely to behave like "normal" kids? And how in the world are those things the fault of their adoptive parents (who have spent alot of time, money, patience, and hours of prayer trying to help that child heal from wounds that others caused)?

I am thankful for...
my little Monkey. He turns five tomorrow, on a day that is sure to be bittersweet for me. My last baby is no longer a baby.

From the learning rooms...
We are really on the homestretch of our school year now. Standardized tests results are back and my kids all continue to perform well above their grade levels. Curriculum catalogs are arriving in the mail, and I am already beginning to think about next year.

From the kitchen...
Absolutely no idea! Maybe spaghetti?

I am wearing...
a light purple shirt with purple socks, and jeans

I am creating...
I am coming to the conclusion that I am not a very creative person as far as crafty type things go.

I am going...
to lunch with my children and my parents.

I am reading...
a Lori Wick book (on my Kindle, of course. If only Dee Henderson would release hers in that format!)

I am hoping...
that we get good news at Lily's doctor appointment tomorrow, and that he'll say she doesn't need surgery in the near future.

I am hearing...
the dishwasher running, Mango playing with her Pixel Chix toy, Monkey listening to "A Frog Went A Courting" on his CD player (who wrote such a dorky song anyway?), and the rustle of pages as the other three work on their school.

Around the house...
there is laundry to fold, of course; lots of books on the table, and the animals are snoozing

One of my favorite things...
my friends - I've got some really great ones!

A few plans for the rest of the week: Lily's doctor appointment, Monkey's 5th birthday, no co-op classes this Friday

Here is picture thought I am sharing...
Talking to Grandma!

If you'd like to see other women's daybooks please check out the Simple Woman's Daybook blog.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Goodbye, Sae

Early this afternoon, we said good-bye to Sae. She and her 28 classmates are headed back to Japan after 3 1/2 busy weeks in America. It always amazes me just how quiet a house can seem when only 7 people now live in it (even when that 8th person didn't make a lot of noise!). Please pray for safety as she travels home.
Many people ask us why we continue to host when we already have such a busy and full, house and life. There are so many reasons we do - six of which are the wonderful young people who have come from around the world to be a part of our lives. Getting to know each of them has always been worth the pain of saying good-bye. Hosting allows us to share our faith and our lives with some of the brightest students at the top universities in Japan. Our Asian children are given some wonderful role models to look up too and spend time with, and we all are reminded again of just how small our world really is. Adding one person to our family actually often increases our family time, as we are more deliberate in spending time together and going on fun outings as we show our student around Minnesota. We are reminded that even the "small things", like sitting down to dinner together or playing outside in the snow, are moments to be treasured and enjoyed. And this program is so well run that we can trust that any big issues that could possibly come up would immediately be taken care of.
Good-bye, Sae - Thanks for being brave enough to get on that airplane 3 1/2 weeks ago to come and live with a bunch of strangers. We are all going to miss you!

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Simple Woman's Daybook for 3/9/09

FOR TODAY...March 9, 2009

Outside my window...The sun is shining. The sky is blue and cloudless. There is beautiful layer of frost covering our deck. And snow is in the forecast for tomorrow.

I am thinking...about everything that needs to be accomplished in the next couple of weeks, and wondering what surprises are still in store for us (Funny how we like to plan for those surprises!)

I am thankful for...Lily. She turned eleven yesterday.

From the learning rooms...We are in the final stretch of our school year. A couple of the kids have already finished up with some of their books, and so their school days will be getting shorter and shorter, allowing for more time to play outside once spring decides to actually stick around.

From the kitchen...Not sure yet. Maybe soup with homemade breadsticks for supper.

I am wearing...Even though it's nine-twenty, I am still in my pajamas! I keep trying to make it to the shower, but someone always seems to need something!

I am creating...a day of memories for my five kids

I am going...to the doctor this afternoon in order to get my medications refilled. We will go to BSF tonight, and I am looking forward to going.

I am reading...The book of Numbers for BSF, and want to read Ecclesiastes for our Sunday School class. I am also reading a Christian romance novel on my Kindle.

I am hoping...that Lily will not need surgery again, but at this point, things aren't looking too promising

I am hearing...Super Why on the TV, the dog snoring, Lily coughing while she reads a book, pages turning from school books, a package crinkling as Monkey has a snack, and his voice asking me if I "Want one?"

Around the house...shelves filled with books waiting to be read, origami boxes and creations from the kids' time with Sae

One of my favorite things...as always, curling up with my Kindle to read!

A few plans for the rest of the week: Hopefully, getting a good solid week of school in.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...This is what happens when you give a four year old free reign over dressing himself, and when he just LOVES the cowboy shirt Grandma bought him! Doesn't he look proud?

If you would like to see other daybooks, please visit the http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Lily Update

Thank you for your prayers, everyone!
We are back from the surgeon's office, and will return in 4 weeks for a final determination as to whether or not Lily will need further surgery. In the mean time, he has doubled her antibiotic dose and wants her on it for 3-4 weeks, and I am supposed to push the little skin flap off of the post a couple of times a day to help keep the skin elastic. We do get the impression that surgery will be likely. If he does operate, he will not only remove the little flap of skin, he will also re-thin all of the tissue between the skin and the bone, to decrease the chance of infections in the future, and to help with her ear fit.
We'd appreciate any continued prayers. Lily is really quite a tough cookie when it comes to her surgeries, but obviously would rather not have another one. And going without her prosthetic wears on her and her self-esteem. (But boy is she able to charm her doctors!)

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Crazy Week and Crazier Day

It was a busy week.
On Tuesday, we celebrated Mango's 8th birthday. We always go out to eat at a restaurant of the birthday child's choice, and Mango chose Space Aliens - a space themed restaurant. The kids all got a few free game tokens, and Seely was even kind enough to give his to the birthday girl! She was given this "lovely" headband to wear and a free birthday sundae.

On Wednesday morning, I was the guest speaker for the group of Japanese students. I spoke about one of my great passions - adoption. Adoption is extremly uncommon in Japan, so they are always very good listeners; and for the second time in a row, I have made a good number of these young people cry simply by sharing our stories and travel videos. It's truly a privilege to be able to talk with them, and to see their hearts so moved.

On Saturday, we headed off to the Mall of America with Sae for some shopping and sight-seeing. And even though it's expensive, we always love to eat at the RainForest Cafe (which Monkey affectionately calls "The Monkey Restaurant" because of the robotic monkeys singing and swinging in the trees).

Yesterday, the girls had their family birthday party with their cousin. The three girls have birthdays within about 2 1/2 weeks of each other, so we have a party together every year. This year, I actually missed their party, because Monkey is having some pretty major asthma trouble and needed to take a trip to urgent care.

And the biggest excitement of this past week is not neccessarily a good one. Lily took off her prosthetic ear on Saturday night, and her post area was grossly infected and draining all sorts of really not lovely "stuff". We cleaned it up (I'll spare you the details), put on her strong, prescription antibiotic ointment, and sent her off to bed. By Sunday morning, the area was not at all improved, and was so red and swollen that the skin had started to cover over her top ear post. We immediately placed a call to her surgeon, who ordered more antibiotics, and we are to see them Tuesday morning for an evaluation. If the skin that's currently over the post does not recede, she will need surgery to re-expose the top post before she will be able to wear her prosthetic again. The surgeon's best guess is a 50/50 chance of needing further surgery or not. Please pray that this will clear up without it.
As this is on the side of her head, we've started taking pictures of what we are seeing, so Lily can actually get a look at it herself, rather than just listen to us talk about it. This picture was taken just this morning. Much of the redness and swelling is gone, but the posts are still draining quite a bit. The bottom post is what the posts are supposed to look like coming through her skin; you can see the top one is covered about half way with skin.

People ask us if it hurts her, but Lily really does not complain very much about it. I think after having several surgeries in the area, that most of the nerves are gone or damaged and she just really feels very little there. They have also found that children who experienced a lot of early neglect simply do not feel and process pain like the rest of us do...and she has an extremely high pain tolerance....which leads us to the next problem. We had her well-check visit this morning with our pediatrician (God bless him, he never freaks out over her ear post infections which are rare enough that most docs never even see one!), and discover that she has an ear infection in her hearing ear. She had told me there was some "popping" in that ear over the weekend, but said there was no pain/discomfort. I had told her to let me know right away if it hurt at all, and I'd get her in to a doctor, and she never said that it hurt. Whether she really didn't feel pain, or whether it just didn't "connect" in her brain, I don't really know. Anyways, her antibiotic was changed to one that will cover both skin and ear infections, and her ENT surgeon will take a look at that too tomorrow when we are there.
We'd certainly appreciate any and all prayers that she will heal up on her own (with God's help, of course) and without any further surgery. We'll keep you posted.