OUR PLANS MULTIPLIED
Saturday, January 29, 2011
I didn't miss my calling as a nurse and just about had a panic attack each and every time I had to administer a shot. We got into a routine that allowed Tori to fall asleep on my bed, then I would give her the shot at 10:00 p.m.; she would wake and whimper a minute, then we would cart her off to her own bed. Alei helped me every single time and changed her mind about pursuing a career in nursing during the months of Tori's treatment. Throw in the simple fact that before we started this treatment, we also returned to Liberia for Ben and Julia. We assumed that Ben would carry the virus as well, and also require treatment, but were pleasantly surprised when his tests came back that he had fought it off on his own. This was also the same time that we were starting the build on our house, dealing with another child's trauma and I found out that I was pregnant with Elijah. It was a quite stressful on several levels.
During Tori's treatment, we had to monitor her progress with blood work every two weeks. It usually showed a decrease in antigens in her blood, which meant that the disease was slowing in the rate that it was damaging her liver. While this was good, we were always waiting and hoping for a "cure" and that by the end of the treatment, the damaging antigens would be reduced to zero. When we finished in June of '08, the antigens had reduced by 90%, which was obviously much better, but was not declared a cure of any sort. Since then, we have been monitoring her levels and traveling to Johns Hopkins once a year to remain a patient, thus allowing us to participate in any trial treatments that could surface in the future.
Towards the end of her treatment, the doctor also warned us that her levels could actually start to increase again after finishing the interferon; we just hoped for the reduction to permanently remain. Every year I have held my breath just to hear that her levels are still at only 10% and that she doesn't require an additional treatment that doesn't really offer much hope.
So, fast forward to Friday, the doctor told us that her levels had dropped a bit, then she stared at the paper and told us that in fact, the antigens were no longer present in her liver at all. At the examination, she marveled that her liver isn't enlarged and neither is her spleen, which normally remains enlarged after battling Malaria! So, at this point, 2 1/2 years after finishing her last treatment, her liver has cleared all the Hep B antigens. Now, due to information gleaned from recent clinical studies, her liver will even be able to start repairing any damage that is remaining from her early years. We honestly have prayed for her medical status every day since that day in 2006 when we were given the diagnosis, but we honestly didn't hope for a complete cure this late in the game.
My point in recording this story, beyond just giving God the glory for healing her liver, is to serve as a simple reminder that God has us in his hands. In reality, Tori probably would not have lived through the Malaria that she had if she had remained in Liberia. She definitely would not have lived a full and healthy life in Liberia without the Hep B treatment she received here. At the same time, with where we were at prior to our first trip to Africa, we would not have claimed a baby that had Hep B, neither would we have claimed Tori and Ben if they had appeared as a sibling group. God knew that they had to be temporarily separated AND her medical status hidden from us to place them in our home.
God has also used Ben and Tori to clear our fear to the place that we are praying and pursuing medically special needs siblings from Ethiopia! There is also a story on how God gave me a glimpse into our future children the day Tori was diagnosed. That will be part three for a later day.
"Do not think that love in order to be genuine has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies." Mother Teresa
Other than the Malaria, one day the doctor called me and told me that she had bad news. She told me that Tori was positive for Hepatitis B. Since I virtually knew nothing about it, we had to learn quickly what it was and how to proceed caring for her. The reality is that Hep B is an incredibly minimal risk to anyone other than the person carrying it; in her case, she was born with the virus. Hepatitis doesn't live outside the body, therefore, in normal family situations the risk is inconsequential. Our concern was for our daughter; how serious her case was and what did we need to do for her.
Unfortunately, before we could even research our options for Tori's care, it leaked out at my homeschool group. While we weren't keeping the information a secret, neither were we shouting it from the roof-tops. Apparently one mom that I told felt the need to tell another mom, who told another mom, you get the idea. The end result confronting us was a mother who had never immunized her children and was furious that we allowed our daughter in the group setting. I would like to interject at this point that I have no issue with people who chose to not immunize nor do I have an issue with those who do. I think it is a personal opinion, but the fact that this particular mom thought that my child was the ONLY child in the county that was a carrier for a diagnosed disease remains incredibly naive. Although she immediately quit the group (and immunized her children since we still resided in the county), her husband still felt the need to approach JD at work and actually accused us of endangering the entire county! You have to realize that we were blind-sided with these attacks, because we were just trying to digest the information on our own level and figure out how to proceed caring for our new daughter.
We learned quickly that often people only view situations from the stand-point of what is best for them; we also learned quickly who our true friends were - they began falling along two sides very quickly. Often when I relate this to other parents of Hep B children, they are shocked because they never were subjected to what we went through. We ended up seeing a "liver doctor" outside of D.C. who followed Tori's liver levels with frequent blood tests. Within months, he ordered a liver biopsy. The liver biopsy showed significant liver scarring and we knew that she would need to have some kind of treatment in order for her liver to continue functioning for her life time.
The liver doctor in D.C. ended up referred us to Johns Hopkins. Fortunately, we live within driving distance of the renowned hospital, as it has one of, if not the best, pediatric Hep B centers in America. We have worked with a doctor that is personally renowned in research and treatment options. The difficult thing with Hep B is that it is a very personal disease. Some people respond great to some treatments, others the treatment doesn't work at all. Some people have horrible side-effects, others barely notice a difference. The decision wasn't difficult to chose to fight it as aggressively as possible, since any chance of a medical cure is usually before a child is 4 or 5. We agreed to start a six month interferon regimen. The worse part is that interferon involved shots three times a week administered by us. Even worse for me was that the starting date was right when JD got called on a serious work assignment to HI for six weeks and I had to go it alone.
To be continued tomorrow -
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Later in the day Elijah was fortunate enough to go out again with Daddy on the tractor to move a tree that fell across the drive-way. A tractor ride ranks right at the top of Elijah's favorite thing to do, so it was perfect event for a 1/2 birthday!
As mentioned, we started school after lunch. Tori's new Math U See came in the mail yesterday, so we got to start on it. I was doing Saxon 1st grade with her, but she wasn't following numbers over 10 too well, so we backed up to work through Math U See's Primer book. At this point, I really love Math U See; it definately was the first thing that really worked for Ben. I have spent a small fortune on this curriculum the last two years, but we have to learn math one way or another. Thankfully most of it is non-consumable and can be used for multiple children and multiple children I do have!
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Since no one wants to read a picture-less bad news post, I present Elijah's monogrammed bean-bag he got for Christmas.
Nice it's getting such good use. I should have monogrammed it "cats" instead of "Elijah."
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
You know who else is waiting? Waiting and hoping for someone to come for them, to hold them, to love them? 147 million orphans - children that are capable of doing wonderful things with their lives, only if given the opportunity. It puts my waiting in great perspective. I read the statistic that 35% of Christians have considered adopting, but less than %1 actually do. Can you imagine all the orphans waiting that would have homes if the other 34% moved forward to adopt?
Waiting is hard, but even worse is the children that wait and wait for years and are never chosen, never get a family. My waiting is frustrating but their waiting is heart-breaking!
Monday, January 24, 2011
As for our little Bob the Builder? He went and got the little blue ladder to be able to climb up on the scaffolding. He was pretty pleased with himself too!
The good news is that he doesn't go off on his own to get into things. He likes to be with people, so generally doesn't attempt too many dangerous feats unless someone is fairly close by.
That's my boy.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
To prepare for phase two of the ceiling, the playroom, we moved the TV and couches over to their new home. It is rather cramped, since the left couch is sitting in front of huge carpet rolls instead of the wall, but that is only temporary.
Today I'm heading back to Ikea after church to swap the two little cubes that I bought; they were labeled black and were white upon opening. JD also left the racks on top of the van just in case there are treasures to be found in the scratch and dent section!
Friday, January 21, 2011
Tori chose a "pink, heart cake in a large rectangle" over a circle cake.
The problem was that it was 9:00 p.m. by this point and poor Bud was tired. His least favorite thing in life is hair-cuts, with baths following a close second, and he was forced to have both.
He cried his way through most of the hair-cut and all of the bath. His little eyes were red and swollen and only improved after I pulled out a new bag of candy. (Thanks Ms. Wendy.)
While I was on a hair roll, there was no denying that the girls were looking severely over-due for a new hair-do. I had to face the reality that they both needed their hair re-done before church on Sunday. I then decided that I really didn't want to spend the entire week-end doing hair and I was going to try and get them both done today. I started taking Julia's out at 9:30 this morning and finished up Tori's at 6:30 p.m. I was actually thrilled that I finished before dinner, even though we ate late, instead of 10:00 p.m. I saved about two hours by saving their current parts; I actually banded each section and washed a section, then banded it again. I don't plan on doing that next time, since it's good for their hair to have different parts, but it sure helped today!
After standing on the kitchen floor all day, my legs ache. It was so worth is, however, to not have to repeat this hair scenario tomorrow. The exciting part of today is that tomorrow I get to do more exciting things - like organize down-stairs or tape the bathroom in preparation to paint!
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Here's my lunch tip of the day - Since I've quit buying hot-dogs and lunch-meat due to nitrates, I buy the big split chicken breasts and cook them in the roaster. I then shred the meat and keep it in the refrigerator. We make straight sandwiches with it, mix it with mayo and seasonings for chicken salad and often eat it on salads. It's quick, versatile and much healthier than the processed counter-parts. Two big breasts seem to feed a lot of us several lunches each week.
Here's a cuter picture than shelves in the school room or shredded chicken; it's Julia and Gus hanging out under the table.
I think I'm going to have to take an organizing break tomorrow, in order to make a cake and wrap presents for a certain princess that is turning six!
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Well, tomorrow I'm going to wrap up the school room, which should be quick and painless since most of it has been done. I have an enormous amount of weeded out homeschool curriculum that I also need to figure out where to sell; I do well on E-bay, but I find it so painful to list each item.
As mentioned yesterday, here are two of my fail-proof breakfast recipes that we use over and over.
My Grandma's pancake or waffle batter:
2 c. buttermilk
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. flour ( I use 1 whole wheat and 1 white, but you can do any combination.)
Mix and cook. The beauty of this recipe is that it's so easy to double or triple. If it's just the weekday bunch, I double it; if it's the weekend bunch with friends over, I triple it.
Second - Strawberry Smoothie:
1 c. vanilla yogurt
1 1/2 c. milk
2. c. frozen strawberries
1/2 c. ice
Throw in the blender; it makes about 3 smoothies, which means I usually make 3 rounds!
Monday, January 17, 2011
In the home school department, I have been hoping to put together a check-list spread-sheet for Moriah and Alyssa to begin logging their own school work, but so far that hasn't made it to the computer. I also would like to review some of the items that different kids are doing in different subjects this year since I've really found some favorites that seem to work with different learning styles.
In the hair category, Tori and Julia need their hair re-done and I've yet to do any significant research on loccing Julia's hair. Every time I finish Julia's hair, I think that I'll figure out if loccing is for us before the next "have to do hair" occasion rolls around. They seem to roll around pretty quickly!
Last but not least, Thursday is Tori's birthday and it's her year to have a party and I haven't planned that event yet. Although I don't do complicated birthdays, they still require some planning and a cake!
Then there's always the need for someone to go to the doctor and/or dentist and animals that need shots. Those things so often take so much more time than it seems they should.
Of course, adoption planning is also quite a time taker. There are so, so many agencies that work in Ethiopia that I have been trying to just narrow it down to who we are interested in working with.
So, bear with me, but I think I'll try to finish up my major kitchen clean-up tomorrow and post a few favorite recipes to go along with it. In the mean-time, here's a picture that I liked but never posted of Tori, Ben and James helping JD. It's so cute how they like to help with projects like this.
(Just be glad I didn't mention the diet and work-outs that Alei and I have started; my arms ache typing!)
Saturday, January 15, 2011
The cabinet that I removed from the school room is just sitting in the hallway down stairs. I think it's eventual home will be where Elijah's toddler bed is in my room. In the meantime, Julia is having a great time using it as a Barbie dorm.
Kids are so entertaining. Here's a Tori story - Yesterday Ben was reading a dinosaur book and asking me about the time-line that Usborne states dinosaurs lived. I was trying to explain to him the different theories about when dinosaurs lived and it rolled into a creation versus evolution explanation as well. When I told Ben that some people don't believe God created the world, Tori interjected, "What a minute...Some people think that the DEVIL created the world?" Now there's a theory I hadn't thought of.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Remember this hot spot in the school room?
Here's my new design of that space -
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Monday, January 10, 2011
So, at the urging of JD, I'm laying aside the logic and the agency given facts and I'm waiting for my young siblings or twins to surface (and let me remind you that we also feel called to a specific special need.) I know God is able and I pray that when He matches us to our sibling group, it will testify to how big and able He is if we stand aside and allow Him to work!
By the way, I define coincidence as when God chooses to remain anonymous.
Sunday, January 9, 2011
The first things I learned is that Ikea can be really, really crowded; the kind of crowded that means there's no parking in the garage and no tables in the food court. By the time we parked, found a table and got through the food line, it was 3:00. After eating, we navigated to the cube section where all my organizational dreams are possible. No sooner had we spent a few minutes there, the fire alarm lights started going off on the ceilings, there was a fire announcement and we were told to evacuate the building. What happened next totally baffled me - people kept shopping! I am not even kidding - we kept just looking at each other a bit shocked. There were many people heading for the exits, as we were, but we kept passing people that acted like nothing was going on! JD and I finally ditched the cart, made the kids hold their coats and were more aggressively passing the aisle-clogging shoppers to get to an exit.
It probably only took five minutes to get to the exit, but I was getting nervous and had a spiritual insight in those moments. All around us there are lost people...people that don't see eternity, people that can't see past the chairs and bookcases that this world has to offer. During that time of moving our family towards the exit, we forgot the cubes and baskets we came for - during that five minutes, they didn't matter to me anymore. What was so astonishing was that people were so involved in comparing and buying, that they didn't consider the possibility of perishing. How often is this actually true in life, even of Christians? As we live our day to day life, we have to remember that at any moment none of what this life has to offer will matter. In a matter of a moment, we will have to stand before the great Judge and he'll never ask what bookshelf we chose, He'll only ask if we helped guide others to Him while we were on this earth.
Long story short - the alarm was cancelled about the time we made it to the door; it was all because a child pulled the alarm button. (That announcement all made us look at Ben since we had a very similar experience last January.) Anyway, we did return for the cubes and baskets we made the trip for. And while we were already pushing the limits of the interior of our van, I suggested we check out the scratch and dent section... and there it was... the exact dresser that Alei has been wanting. It was the dresser that she jokingly asked me to buy as I headed at the door that morning, and it was $100 off due to a bent drawer part that JD fixed in about five minutes. JD looked at me, I looked at him, he told me that he could strap it to the roof. Sure enough, in the freezing, freezing cold, JD strapped that big dresser to the roof, along with some other much-easier-to-load cube boxes.
When we were done, neither JD nor I could feel our hands and Elijah was fast asleep in his car-seat before we even started the van. I just wish I had a picture; non-super-hero husbands would have said it couldn't be done!
My hero husband wants me to document and post about our current adoption dilemma, only so we will be able to show how God will move mightily on behalf of the orphans that He desperately loves and longs to bring into families.
Friday, January 7, 2011
Of course, I'm doing my research in complete faith that our house closing is going to go through the end of January and that we will then be able to refinance our rental loan and then that we will pay off our Liberian loan around tax time. In some ways, it's all crazy to even consider, but we feel like we are supposed to be ready!
In my continuing in the kitchen series, I bought new binders for my "scrapbooked recipes" that my sister and I enjoyed doing the few years back. My binder had gotten stuffed and wouldn't open or close smoothly, so I divided it into two - one cooking and one baking. I have rediscovered lots of exciting things in there I'm ready to try.
I'll close with some two year old humor. Since Tori and Julia constantly get their fingernails painted, Julia calls them tandernails, Elijah always wants in on the action. Every now and then, he gets a marker and colors them all and is pleased with the look. Yesterday, he started coloring on the computer desk. I said, "Elijah, what are you allowed to color on?" expecting him to say, "paper." Instead, he very seriously answered, "my tandernails."
Thursday, January 6, 2011
For those following along, I'm still working in the kitchen to begin my new year organizing fun. In spite of my trip to the airport and shopping yesterday and my four hour fun lunch at Chick Fil A today, I have gutted and cleaned the pantry, cookbook cabinet and a few other messy spots. Here's my new clean pantry; it' won't stay this way for long - I totally clean it at least once a month. Anyone dare to guess how many half eaten bags of chips I found in there since there have been massive teens at my house all of Christmas break? (I thought teens ate the whole bag at one sitting, but I was wrong.)
Julia loves nothing more than playing with food (well, eating chips would probably rank higher.) She kept herself entertained for at least an hour with a little can of green beans that were ultimately eaten cold by her.
Since we had chicken for lunch, and JD is out of town, we are having smoothies and toast for dinner!
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Then I had a little mix up leaving the airport that involved a brief u-turn in the taxi only garage; but after that, I was on the road on the way out of D.C. (If you are thinking I need a GPS, I have one. The problem is that at times it only helps those that can help themselves; in other words, if you are lost in uncharted territory, it doesn't know what to think.)
The fun news is that I followed the GPS directions through D.C. since rush-hour was over and low and behold, it brought me right by Ikea and the outlet mall. I rushed into Children's Place to see if coats were on clearance for next year. Although they were sold out, I got jeans for $1.97 and shirts for $.99! Can't beat a bag of clothes for Tori and Julia for $20.01 - way better than Goodwill. I also tore through Ikea taking measurement of the different shelves and cubes that match my current ones in the school room. I think I'm going to sell my nice wood cabinet in order to acquire a big cube that will utilize the space better.
Off to bake bread and start on that kitchen organization project I mentioned.
Monday, January 3, 2011
You like it? This little gem is in my school room. I purchased the cabinet years ago for the kids puzzles, games, math manipulatives, etc, but it's always a mess and there are always things that are too big to fit inside, which leads to the lovely display on top. It's only gotten worse since Christmas and when I walk in the room and see it, I feel as though I may lose my mind! So, this leads to one of my many mental New Years goals. ( I don't like the word resolutions, although I'm not really sure why.) One of my goals is to simplify, simplify, simplify! I am constantly picking up stuff even though I'm constantly getting rid of stuff, so I am preparing to swoop through, get rid of, and organize the rest. An added bonus is that the stuff I sell will go to my current loan pay off program, which will enable us to adopt sooner and easier.
I plan on posting before and afters as I go along; I'd also love to hear other's ideas!
I'm so overwhelmed by that cabinet that I think I'll start in the kitchen!
Saturday, January 1, 2011
Around 10:00, we decided that was enough fun for the little guys, so they all got tucked into bed.
Then it was just me and JD, ...and Gabriel and his friend Darrell, ...and Alei and her friend Amanda ...and Moriah and Alyssa. Since this was our first New Years Eve with no satellite, therefore no dropping ball, we just snacked in the kitchen and cheered the New Year moment based on Alei's cell phone time - cheesy, but effective.
Gabriel requested I purchase a deep fryer before he even came home, because he whips up this delicious, but fattening, "chicken wings" regularly in Durango at Linny's home - (http://www.aplacecalledsimplicity.blogspot.com/.) I wasn't enthusiastic about buying one until I found one for a whopping $2 at the same time I bought those fabulous drums that everyone keeps thanking me for. So, Gabriel was able to make a special batch of his special recipe for the occasion.
Here they are in their spicy form. I'm not even kidding you - I went to bed at 12:05 with a stomach ache, but they were good while they were in my mouth!
Happy January 2011!