Sunday, July 31, 2011

Summer Exhaustion!

Today was one of those perfect summer days! Hot, but not unbearable; sunny, breezy. We ran some errands this morning and then had a picnic lunch in the back yard. Daddy came home from work this afternoon and we played outside in the water. Esen had a blast on his slip 'n slide and his redneck homemade water slide (who needs a fancy, expensive water park anyway?); and Marissa enjoyed some time in her little pool that big brother got her for her birthday. Esen randomly asked this evening if he could have the training wheels off his bike so he could try to "balance" on it, so we gave it a try. He took right off like crazy! He never ceases to amaze me! Needless to say - it was a VERY busy, and exhausting day and when dinner rolled around it was like a blast from the past. Esen used to fall asleep while eating, every single day at lunch. He did it tonight at supper. Of course, rather than help him, we did what any good parents would do, we got the camera and shot some video - he really didn't want to give up his bread!  Check out the video at the end - it's hilarious!  Here's a few pics from our awesome day!

Friday, July 29, 2011


I LOVE this belly - scars and all!  We haven't seen this naked belly in 18 long months.  We are so grateful that last Friday's surgery was successful and the new port was placed.  Theoretically, it should last a few years!  You can see it bulging a little off on her left side at the lower part of her rib cage.  It's a non-traditional spot, but because of the placement of her shunt tubing which runs behind her left ear, across her chest and down her right side to her  second distal shunt valve (the bulge under the scar on her right side), it was pretty much the best spot.  We're hoping the giant white square starts to repigment now that there's not a dressing on it 24/7.  Oddly enough, there's hair growing around her old Hickman entrance site, poor girl.  There's just one steri-strip left to fall off up at the tunnel site and then she'll be completely bandage and suture free!  She "helped" the steri-strips off the port entrance site yesterday - naughty girl. 

In other Marissa news, we're going to be exploring some GI issues.  Her self-gagging and nausea has become completely out of control.  If she's not being held (and even sometimes when she is) she is gagging herself constantly.  She'll wake in the middle of the night and do it, it's the first thing she does when she wakes in the morning, she does it when she 's eating, playing, doesn't matter.  It's obvious there's something causing it - more than just behavior.  The "team" has decided a repeat swallow study and upper GI is in order with a possible pH probe to follow.  Hopefully we can get some answers.  Until then, we run fast when we hear the retching and she unfortunately spends a lot of time in her arm restraint.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Break Up

Goodbye, my friend.  Thank you for the years of cold, delicious refreshment, but it is time we part ways.  After all, should I continue putting something into my body that removes rust, removes oil from driveways, cleans grout, or removes corrosion from battery connections?  Probably not! 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ethiopia Updates

Let me preface by saying Holy Cow is our Ethiopia process different from either of our Kyrgyzstan processes!  I'm sure much has to do with the much better organized, much more mature program and much less corrupt government, and certainly we can credit much of the smoothness to working with an agency that actually has a clue and cares! 

Ethiopia has experienced some bumps this year.  Most recently, many orphanages have been shut down.  Referrals have been lost by families.  I cannot imagine being as far along in the process as having been to court and then losing your referral because of an orphanage shut down, but it has happened.  Thankfully, so far, our agency has not been affected and our kids' orphanage is safe. 

We get an update on the kids every month like clockwork.  We get updated photos and an updated social/medical history report.  They are growing and appear healthy, happy and well-adjusted.  Reports from families who have travelled and spent time with them are always positive.  They are definitely well-loved by caregivers. 

Just for fun, here's a measurement comparison of the kids (obviously, I don't have any clue where Kamila falls because we don't get decent updates from Kyrgyzstan):

                   Esen - 5yo            h 42"     w 33 lb
                   "B" - 4yo              h 39"     w 31 lb
                   Marissa - 2yo       h 33"     w 26.5 lb
                   "H" - 3 1/2 yo      h 34"     w 27 lb

So, you see, if they all stay nice and constant, I will have one set of clothes for my boys and one set for my girls!  How wonderful will that be?!  I have a feeling that "B" and Marissa will take off, though.  "H" is reported as being significantly stunted and Esen has really slowed in his growth over the last two years. 

H continues to not receive any medication while "B" continues on his previous medication regimen.  I still worry that they will fall ill, but there is just nothing we can do to speed things up.  We are, as always, at the mercy of the system.

As far as the process goes, unfortunately, the USCIS approval took F.O.R.E.V.E.R. and then our I-171H got "lost" so they've had to reissue it.  Our dossier, which has been ready and waiting since March, except for the I-171H, still sits untranslated and unsent.  We have now officially missed the deadline for court submission prior to the close of the courts for the rainy season.  It is highly likely that we will not get a court date until late Oct-Nov thus delaying the kids' arrival home until Dec-Jan. THAT is a tough pill to swallow!

Fundraising continues to be the most difficult part of this process, although we have been incredibly blessed and touched by the goodness of some true angels whose generosity kept us moving forward when finances were the only thing that threatened to stop us in our tracks.  While there is no way we can ever properly say "Thank You" or repay them, it is our hope that someday we can pay it forward and show the same generosity to another family in a similar situation as ours.  We find ourselves still facing the daunting task of needing to raise over $20,000, some of which will be needed by the time we go to court and the rest by the time we travel to bring the kids home.  That still doesn't include the amount of out-of-pocket medical expenses we will face once they are home.  We welcome fundraising ideas, donations, links to funding sources and any advice anyone might have to offer!

That's it in a nutshell.  We wait, we hope, we scramble for funds, we hope some more and look forward to the day when ALL of our kids will be here, under one roof, laughing and playing together.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

WI-Kyrgyz Celebration - 4th Annual

Hard to believe it's our 4th year already!!  It was bittersweet knowing that we're still missing two sweet Kyrgyz kiddos who are STILL being held hostage in the orphanage when they should be here with their families, but it was wonderful to see the kids (who are growing like crazy) and their families!  It was HOT HOT HOT so the kids enjoyed lots of water fun and plenty of candy!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Happy Birthday to my amazing, strong, resilient, brave, spunky, beautiful daughter who has taught me more than anyone else in my life ever could!!  Unfortunately today began with a trip to the hospital to come up with a plan for her perforated Hickman.  This line has been causing us grief for months now and it finally gave up yesterday.  They are going to 'attempt' to replace it (and I'm pushing for a port) on Friday.  Usually, they would just pull it and put a new line in a new vein, but frankly, she doesn't have any left, so they're going to do their best to "save" this vein.  Fingers crossed that it works!  She is just finishing her antibiotics from her latest bout of pneumonia so again it is a less than ideal time for undergo anesthesia, but we don't have much of a choice.  Surgery number we come!

Miss Marissa had her Birthday Bash on Sunday surrounded by family and friends in the scorching heat wave.  The kids (and Daddy after Mommy "helped" him into the pool) enjoyed the pools, sprinklers and a water fight to stay cool. 

Tonight, we just had a little cake, opened a couple of small gifts and enjoyed our little family. 

So much has happened this past year - so many changes, so many obstacles overcome.  My girl amazes me each and every day!  I can't wait to see what this next year is going to bring!

It's crazy to look back and see how much Marissa has changed.  While she is not your typical 2-year-old and she doesn't understand that it's her birthday per say, she definitely understands feeling special and loved.  She is becoming more aware and involved each day and I must say - girl LOVES herself some birthday cake!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It Happens So Fast

A dear, sweet boy is very, very sick.  Matthew is fighting for his life.  Things like this can happen so quickly and unexpectedly to kiddos with high needs.  Please keep Matthew and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Challenge

There comes a time in each of our lives where we have to reach out to others.  For some, those times may be fleeting.  For others, those times may be long and much more difficult.  I was reminded recently by an acquaintance who had reached out to us that he, too, not long ago had been in a place where he had a dream and people reached out to help him fulfill it.  The people who helped him had nothing to gain by doing so.  What they saw was simply a human being who had a desire to do something good; a human being who had a passion and needed help.  They were compelled to provide support.  He succeeded, by the way.  In a world where people have become so private, so hell-bent on doing everything themselves and not accepting help from anyone else, it becomes much more difficult to ask and accept it when it's needed and/or offered.  Still, when a person has a dream, a passion, a desire so deep that they cannot let anything stand in their way, pride must be set aside. 

I got gas today, paid, filled up a giant fountain Diet Coke and wandered back out to my air conditioned van.  Suddenly, it struck me like a ton of bricks.  Every single day I live in absolute luxury.  Driving a car, period, much less one with AC, picking up an ice cold Diet Coke whenever my heart desires, running through the drive-through when the day has gotten too busy and the kids are hungry, calling up the doctor on Sunday morning and getting Marissa seen and treated within hours, coming home to my air conditioned home, sleeping on a bed, with clean sheets, taking a shower in the morning, putting on clean clothes, I could go on for days..........My kids, my sweet, lonely kids, know nothing of luxury.  They know nothing of comfort or air conditioning, of having their own toys or clothes, of having food whenever they want it.

We are at a critical point in our adoption process and I've been trying to come up with novel fundraising ideas.  I've been wishing that I had fabulous things to give away or sell or heck, if I could just win the lottery (of course I would have to actually buy a ticket).  Then, I thought, how about a challenge instead.  Why does everyone have to GET something to GIVE something?  Why do we not just do nice things anymore because it's the right thing to do?   Call it a Random Act of Kindness, Paying it Forward, Philanthropy, Goodwill, Karma, Mitzvah, whatever you wish; I want to know if people are willing to do it.

So, here it is:

1.  Pick a luxury that you can give up for 1 day - that's it - 1 day.  Do you stop at Starbucks, indulge in a nice glass of wine after work, stop at the bakery for a favorite pastry?  Can you give it up for 1 day?

2.  Ask some friends, coworkers, your hairstylist, butcher, postman, and anyone else who'll listen to do the same.

3.  Collect the funds from the 1-day "loss of luxury" for yourself and your "team."

4.  Donate it!!  You can donate to our kids - that's my preference, of course! ;)  We have several means of doing so, even a tax-deductible means that is managed by a non-profit 3rd party.  If you don't want to donate to our kids, that's okay; you can pick an organization that means a lot to you and donate to that as well.

5.  Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know how many people (including yourself) you convinced to do it.

There is no catch, there are no hidden rules.  Any amount counts - if you're addicted to Burger King's 49 cent ice cream cones, then 49 cents it is.  What I really want to know is if there are still good, unselfish people out there who, when presented with the opportunity, want to help total strangers just because it's the right thing to do.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Pneumonia and a sinus infection.

Yes, really!

It happens THAT fast.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Summer Fun

Nothing beats a good 'ol summertime church festival!

Purple Cow Ice Cream makes anyone happy!!

Yummy Food

This is probably the coolest "homemade" game I've seen!


My "peeps" - when I do work, these girls keep me sane!

And of course, no festival would be complete without music and dancing!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tot-Hoarders: A New Show Coming Soon!

I hosted an intervention this morning.  Esen goes through stages of obsessions, this is not new.  Currently, it is "making" money and "writing" books.  He has been storing said creations in a large plastic tote in our living room for weeks now.

With the tote overflowing, it was time to finally sort the hoard. He, of course, did not want to part with anything at all, but with some discussion, compromise and not a single tear shed, we managed to get through the entire pile.

Sorting took a looooong time and some wonderful, long lost treasures were found!

We had LOTS for the recycle bin, too!!

We managed to get the super-important stuff to keep down to a very manageable stack of 'money' and a very manageable stack of books.  I'm so proud of my little hoarder today! 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Happy 4th!

It couldn't have been a nicer weekend around here - hey, we were all home and all together - what more could we ask for. The weather was excellent, although just a tad hot. Esen enjoyed lots of water time and we managed to get to the parade, carnival and fireworks. Our very dear friend came and stayed with Marissa so we could take Esen to the carnival and fireworks. I was feeling a lot of guilt for leaving Marissa behind because we really strive to do everything as a family, but truthfully, she would've been miserable with the crowds and noise, so it was best. She's been doing a lot of sleeping, which is good and her mood is pretty unreliable right now. I really didn't want to deprive Esen either, so "thank you" Aunt Jean - you're simply the best!!
Drinking his "coffee" from his mess kit coffee cup.

Ready for camping!

Catching Fireflies!

Safety First!

Ummmm.........not sure...........

My Boys!

These boys are not too excited about the festivities.

Nothing says "4th of July" better than a boy, eating a hot dog, watching a parade!
.....or a girl, napping under a fan at the parade!

Do you see how tall this slide is?  Do you see that blur?  That is Esen and I so wish you could see his face - priceless!  I thought for sure we'd be making a trip to the van for a new pair of underpants!  At the end, he laid down on his burlap sack in utter shock and couldn't decide if he had just had fun or was still scared to death!

Loving his first fireworks display!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

She's Baaaack....

This is what makes every surgery, every hospital stay worth it; because she always comes back - thank you, Dr. Benny!!