Thursday, December 13, 2012

I Am That Mom...

You know the one…the one you might have said you’d never be.  I know I said it a million times in my “old life”.  Maybe I’m the one you looked at in disgust yesterday or shook your head at or pitied last week.
…the one who is carrying around the child with no socks and no hat in the twenty degree weather
…the one who’s kid doesn’t seem to follow the traditional course
…the one who wears yoga pants out in public ALL.DAY.LONG.
…the one who may or may not have washed her hair this morning
…the one who sent her kids to school on a breakfast of pop tarts and oranges
…the one who used to be perpetually early for everything, but now is late to every single appointment
…the one who forgets lunches and special school dress up days
…the one who has never taken her family on a real vacation
I was pretty sure I was going to be the mom who was always put together, whose children were always dressed perfectly and sent off to school with bellies full of a delicious, nutritious, hot breakfast.  I was pretty sure I would serve on the PTO and volunteer in the classroom, accompanying my children on every field trip and spend hours at night discussing the day’s events. 
What happened?
Life happened. 
I have a hard time convincing myself most days that I’m not a total failure.  Balance is really, really hard, but for moms of kiddos with special needs, I think it is compounded.  There are doctors, specialists, therapists, behavioral issues, medications, and then the modifications you need to make to general life to accommodate kids from hard places.  I’m not complaining and before people jump down my throat and feel the need to remind me that I chose this life, shut it – I know full well I chose it and I don’t regret it for a second. 
You see, for all the things that I may not be as a mom, I am so much more as a woman and as a human being because of my children and what they have taught me to be.  This past six years I have  totally transformed from the person I was into the person I am right now and the person that I am continuing to grow into.  I truly owe them my life! 
That child with no socks and no hat – she’s my daughter who has severe brain damage.  She’s not supposed to alive.  She’s not supposed to be able to interact or move her limbs, or make sounds.  She’s not supposed to be able to eat or drink, much less have an opinion about anything.  I’ll tell you something – girl’s got some serious opinions; about a lot things!  For one, she hates socks and she hates anything on her head.  When I put them on her – she immediately takes them off.  That’s a pretty huge accomplishment for her and we celebrate it!  If I put them back on it also sends her into a rage and frankly, trying to carry a 35lb head-banging, biting, giant noodle and getting her strapped into a carseat or wheelchair for the 5 seconds she’ll be outside isn’t worth the tantrum so sometimes she wins the battle.
The kid who some think is a little off-course – he’s my oldest son and he is amazing!  I’ve never met another human being like him.  I’ve yet to meet anyone who can fully explain him or the way his brain works.  As he grows, he seems to be more in touch with how it works, though.  I don’t know that anyone will ever know or be able to understand the amount of damage that he suffered, but for him to have overcome and to be where he is today is truly a miracle.  He struggles – A LOT!  He frustrates me, yes.  He also intrigues me and he makes me laugh and he makes my heart soar.  I just can’t wait to see what he’s going to do.
The yoga pants – they were cleanish and I found them, and my butt’s not hanging out – enough said.
My kids eat pop tarts and dammit – they LOVE ‘em!!
I’m late – AGAIN – I’m sorry I messed up your schedule.  But, before you get upset, you should know that I might’ve been dealing with a major poopsplosion in a parking lot somewhere; perhaps my kid had a seizure or threw up, or pulled out her G-tube.  I might’ve been on email desperately trying to match up an orphan with a family; I might’ve been dropping off a hot cup of coffee to a homeless person as a random act of kindness; I might’ve been ordering flowers for a friend who lost her baby; so cut me some slack.  I’m a good person trying to do some good things, trying to make this world a better place because my heart has been stretched to the limit.
The thing is, I try so hard every day and I’m pretty sure my kids see it.  When I fail I let them know and I say I’m sorry.  It seems to be rubbing off.  They are learning grace.  They are learning it’s okay to be imperfect.  They are learning that the world is not always a fair place and that it’s more important to help others than to have things.  They are learning that people matter – isn’t that what it’s all about?  I still have a long ways to go – I am my own biggest critic.  I am hard on myself, always have been.  This next year I really want to take a step back and slow down. 
I am that mom….
…the one who loves her family fiercely
…the one who will protect her kids and fight for them with total disregard for your rules
…the one who is at peace with the fact that others have chosen to walk away rather than accept us
…the one who has been around the world, who has seen true need and true suffering, who has held children that will die alone and who has allowed herself to be changed by it
…the one who has watched her own children suffer unimaginable emotional and physical pain
...the one who will never take a single second for granted

Thursday, November 8, 2012


I apologize for my absence and my silence.  After Marissa's last surgery, things were a bit of a whirlwind.  She recovered quite well and although the surgery didn't go as we had planned or hoped (when does it ever), we have absolutely nothing to complain about right now.  On October 20th, we came H.O.M.E.!!

Marissa is rounding out her last week of IV antibiotic infusions and preparing for a minor procedure next Monday.  She'll be having her G-tube converted to a GJ-tube because she's not been tolerating G-feedings and also will have a pH probe inserted for a 24 hour period of monitoring.  Other than little upper respiratory infection last week that her brothers and sister thoughtfully shared with her, she has been doing fairly well at home.  We have no idea what the future holds and I admit I have a very hard time not looking ahead.  We're trying to just live in the moment and enjoy every second we have.  Right now, we are choosing hope over fear. 

All the kids were able to go trick-or-treating together for Halloween.  All that candy was quite exciting for Bam and Hiwot! 

Last weekend, we were blessed to have our friend, Janiece come and take some family pictures and they turned out so beautifully!

I promise to update very soon!!

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Yup - this about sums it up.  My stomach is in knots, I've had a headache for four days, I can't think straight, and I crashed my van into a pole yesterday.......(I'll save that for another post).
Tomorrow, the best-of-the-best surgical minds will come together to try and create a functioning shunt system for my little Noodle. 

A month or so ago, we had a lot of reasons to believe we'd never make it to this point.  We were "prepared" for the fact that it might prove to be impossible, that she would not survive.  We have tried to live day-to-day and not focus on the end of the journey, whatever 'the end' might be.

Now, here we are - at this pivotal moment.  It feels like there is so much riding on this one surgery; probably because there is. There is no room for error.  She cannot withstand more malfunctions, additional surgeries, more infections, more insult to her brain.  I have no control over this situation and I hate it!  Tomorrow, the OR team will see a side of me that they don't usually see.  I usually hold it together when I leave her (at least until I'm alone).  We have our routine of singing songs until she's asleep.  I am strong and optimistic.  Hell, after 46 surgeries, 46 goodbye kisses, 46 times walking out, 46 times looking back and saying "take care of my girl;" I have to be, right?  Tomorrow - I will cry like a baby.  I will have a very hard time walking out, leaving her behind.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Where do I begin. I have started this post no less than ten times and in my exhausted state, quit each time. Partly, I simply can't accurately recall the exact events of the past several months, but mostly, I just plain don't have the energy or desire to lay it all out and relive it.  Doing that means I have to face it - again - and that it makes it real. 

Reality sucks! 

Sometimes I just want butterflies and rainbows and the last three months have been pretty dark. 

In mid-July, we found ourselves in and out of the clinics and ended up visiting our friends over at MRI and Ultrasound for a suspected shunt malfunction.  MRI confirmed a slight dilation of one of Miss Noodle's ventricles so her neurosurgeon opted to revise her shunts.  The revision went fine, but recovery did not.  She came out of surgery very rough.  Hours passed and she did not improve.  We transferred to the PICU, she was administered some sedation for a CT scan and shortly after we returned to the PICU, she suffered respiratory arrest.  Prior to the arrest, she had been awake and comfortable.  The 20 minutes that followed can only be described as a living nightmare.  This is the second time in the past 3 years that I stood by and watched as a team of no less than 20 people fought to save my daughter's life.  In those moments, I would've sold my soul to the devil to ensure that she would survive.  Marissa was intubated and stabilized on a ventilator before I, myself, began to breathe again.

In the days that followed, no one really was able to come up with a great reason for her arrest.  She was weaned off the vent, extubated and continued to do quite well.  We went home about a week later.

Unfortunately, we returned just a few days later and Marissa was diagnosed with a shunt infection.  Her shunts were externalized for two weeks, during which time she was treated with IV antibiotics and then shunts were internalized.  We went home again, only to return a couple of days later when she leaked CSF out of her incision sites.  The leaks were controlled, shunts revised, spent another week - went home.

Are you noting a trend at all?

A few days later, Marissa went completely blind - yup - malfunction number.....who am I kidding.....I don't know.  This was a Sunday and she wound up in surgery late Sunday night.  Dr. B came and met me after surgery, as he always does, but this time, things were different.  Instead of coming out and telling me everything went great, he sat down quietly and looked utterly defeated.  I swallowed my heart and waited.  I know there are so many parents out there who have had this experience.  They've had "the talk" with their kids' doctors.  They've sat there and listened, stared blankly while statistics were recited and doctors told them that the odds were stacked against them.  They've listened to phrases like "there's nothing else we can do" & "I don't know how much she can take."  I know Marissa is lucky.  Not a day goes by that I don't thank God for the fact that she is still here and still strong.  She shouldn't be and I know that.  she shouldn't be able to smile and laugh and eat and roll over.  Every little thing she does, every minute we have with her is truly a gift.  That said, for some reason, even though I watched her suffer a near-fatal hemorrhage two years ago and respiratory arrest just a couple months ago, I have never really allowed myself to believe that the day would come when I would be faced with her mortality.  Now, here I was at midnight on a Sunday, in a dark waiting room, by myself, being slapped in the face with it.

So, what's a Mom to do?  I pulled up my big girl pants, dried my eyes, and vowed to fight like hell.  That's what we've always done and we weren't going to stop now.  Noodle came through that surgery, did great, did not regain her vision, but followed a healing course. We were discharged - again.

Fast forward a couple of days.  I found my sweet Noodle with a big 'ol goose-egg on the back of her head (pocket of CSF) and took her to see Dr. B once again.  He tapped her shunts, ordered an MRI and I expected to be admitted. Her pressures were good, MRI looked okay so we went home. 

Two days later she spiked a fever, started vomiting and we headed to the Emergency Room shunt kid purgatory.  I avoid it at all costs, but this time, we had to go.  I have NEVER had such a horrifying experience  For the next 14 hours, we saw no fewer than 80 different people who had 80 different opinions, none of which included a shunt malfunction, shunt infection, infected gall bladder, or septicemia (all my dumb ideas).  I was repeatedly told she had a simple gastroenteritis (aka: the stomach flu).  We were treated like crap, refused pain medication, and my blood boiled hotter and hotter as the clock ticked.  I told off way too many doctors and residents that day.  Despite what people probably believe, I don't like being ugly & mean, but cross me too many times, belittle me and make my kid suffer needlessly and I will turn it on.  Eventually, through a small miracle (and after some irate phone calls) we ended up in the PICU.  Eventually, she got every test I wanted her to have from the minute we walked in early that morning.  Eventually, she was diagnosed with:  Shunt malfunction, shunt infection, and septicemia. But....I'm just a stupid parent!  Oh, and a week later, her infected gall bladder was removed, too. 

I digress.

Shunt infection becomes meningitis....meningitis morphs into ventricultis and cerebritis with a nasty abscess in the left temporal horn.  Following the trip to the OR where the abscess was discovered Dr. B came in for another heart-to-heart.  This one was long and much harder.  I was more ready, though, or so I thought.  There are so many things I appreciate about this man - I've shared before how much we love him HERE.  I appreciate his honesty, compassion and the time he always seems to have to give to us even though I know he is being pulled in a million directions all the time.  I so appreciate those things about him.  We talked at length about decisions and when to make them and that it's okay not to make any right now.  We talked about her prognosis, which was and continues to be guarded at best.  It is statistically unlikely that she will grow to be a young adult.  It is statistically likely that because of the insult her brain has suffered, she could die from a seizure, a fever, another shunt malfunction, a bump on the head or any other myriad of things that we simply cannot predict.  How does a mother who loves her child more than anything, begin to process those words, those thoughts, those feelings?  I can't help but think about finding her lifeless in her crib some morning, about having to tell her brothers and sister that she's gone, about having to call family members, about planning her funeral, about having to go on living without her.  I don't know how parents survive the loss of a child - I really don't. 

Today, we are 12 weeks into this "event."  There is no end in sight.  Noodle remains externalized, but in fairly good spirits, for which we are thankful.  Other than her eyes, she has not appeared to have suffered permanent losses as of yet, which is quite astounding considering the extent of her infection, amount of surgical intervention she's had and the seizure activity she has suffered over the past three months.  She truly is a living, breathing miracle.

I will admit that I am struggling a little more each day.  I am tired - more tired than I've ever been.  I haven't slept more than a couple hours straight in 3 months.  I worry constantly - about Noodle, about the other kids, about how we're going to pay our bills, keep a roof over our head (living in a PICU is not cheap), my job, my marriage, whether everyone who's been lending a hand is going to get sick of doing so.......

I worry.  I can't help it.  My worrying won't change anything, won't help anything & I know that, but I'll do it anyway - it's who I am. 

Meanwhile, I wake up each day, fold up my vinyl couch, prepare for the barrage of doctors and residents who will start descending on our room & I take a few moments to look out the window at our gorgeous view and remind myself that we will face today and not worry about tomorrow.  It gets pretty lonely sometimes.  My heart hurts that my family is apart.  I miss my other kids something terrible and I long for the weekends when I get to see them again.  Then, the weekends come and I miss Noodle. Most days, I'm strong and optimistic and my sense of humor carries me through, but other days I feel like I could curl up in a ball in the closet and just cry. 

Who knows where this path will lead or when we will get there.  If you're ever in the neighborhood, stop on in - we'd love to see you!

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Great Tuberculosis Fiasco

Michelle requested I play the TB card first so here goes.

All children who are adopted internationally must undergo a physical exam and some blood testing prior to being issued a US visa.  Some children, based on their background, medical diagnoses, etc., undergo more rigorous testing.  Bamlak and Hiwot fell into this category and had to undergo extensive testing for Tuberculosis (TB).  This testing began in December and involved TB skin tests, chest x-rays, and serial sputum cultures.  I later found out after much investigation that the sputum cultures were actually gastric aspirates.  It is routine that these cultures grow for 8 weeks before they are deemed negative and the US Embassy clears the child/children for entrance to the U.S.

Backpedaling a bit; when we visited Ethiopia last December, I left saying that I was 99% certain Hiwot would test positive for TB.  For the year prior all of the monthly updates we received indicated she was generally sickly, never gaining weight, usually losing one month, going back up the next and continuing that cycle.  She had frequent colds and GI illnesses.  Spending a week with her, it was obvious that something was going on.  She was just weak and didn't have any stamina.  She would break out in cold sweats with no warning, had a persistent cough and runny nose and just didn't look super healthy.  A positive TB test would be a pretty huge setback in that she would in all likelihood not be released to our custody without receiving months and months of treatment.

We were on pins and needles once testing started waiting for 'the call.'  I was shocked when our agency called to tell me that the children received Embassy clearance.  I told our coordinator to get an appt as soon as humanly possible and that I would book a flight within days.  She tried to convince me to wait a week or two, but something in my gut told me we had to hurry.  Maybe I felt burned from our experience in Kyrgyzstan, maybe Mommy Instinct kicked in, maybe I just desperately wanted them home, but we threw it together and I was down there in a few days. 

Fast forward to the day after week got home.  The phone rings and it's our coordinator calling to tell us that the US Embassy made a horrible mistake.  They neglected to let the kids' cultures finish growing before clearing them.  Hiwot's TB culture turned positive in it's 7th week on the day that our agency wanted us to arrive in Addis.  Thankfully, I hadn't listened to them and we already had the kids home!

I immediately got on the phone to Pediatric Infectious Disease, our pediatrician, the health department and got the ball rolling with testing here.  Hiwot began treatment based on the positive culture in Ethiopia.  We sat and waited for weeks and weeks for the drug susceptibilities to come back on the organism they isolated from her cultures.  They were unable to get anything so they forwarded it to Nairobi.  Meanwhile, all of the testing we had been doing here has come up negative.  Hiwot had skin tests, chest x-rays, blood tests, bronchial washings, even a biopsy of her lymph nodes.  Everyone, including the CDC is baffled.  IF she truly had TB anywhere in her body - those tests certainly would've found it!  Hiwot is growing stronger and her symptoms are subsiding. 

Many more weeks pass and we receive the devastating news from Nairobi that Hiwot's organism is multi-drug resistant, otherwise known as MDR-TB.  Now everyone's undies are in a bunch!  Think choppers over the house, men in white suits..........

The CDC and the health department are pushing us to start treatment immediately.    I politely declined since treatment involves intravenous medications for YEARS!  Yes, you heard it - a PICC line, IV infusions that are extremely hard on the organs, and a ton of trauma to a little girl who just arrived home a couple months earlier.  Still, we have NO POSITIVE CULTURES on anything here in the US.  None of it made sense.  How could they expect that we would subject her to that type of risk based on a positive culture from a lab in Africa when the highest quality testing HERE was unable to prove anything?!  It got ugly, but luckily our Peds Infectious Disease team is amazing and offered incredible support and advocacy.
Eventually, everyone just kind of backed off.  We will never know what really happened.  It is entirely possible that she is harboring a TB infection somewhere in her body, although unlikely.  This very well might not be the end of the TB story, but we're prepared to deal with it if it rears it's head again.  For now, she's happy and healthy and sassy and we can chalk this up to one more medical mystery for our family!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Quickest Recap Ever

March - Bam and Hiwot came home.  They acclimated incredibly awesome! Esen had the hardest time with the transition, but now is the greatest big brother on the planet.  He has grown so much over the summer!  Bam and Hiwot are super healthy after being treated for giardia, campy and a having a TB scare.  That's a really looooong story.  Marissa took to her new siblings right away - loving the attention and the added chaos.  We also celebrated Bamlak's FIFTH birthday!

April - We focused on settling in and getting used to being a family.  Esen celebrated his SIXTH birthday.  Yes, seriously, I don't know what happened - he's so.dang.old.!  Bam & Hiwot started attending daycare and absolutely loved it.  Their English really blossomed as did their personalities.

May - I enjoyed my first Mother's Day as Mom to FOUR KIDS!  It was surreal.  The kids continued to learn how to get along with each other and developed great relationships.  We learned a lot about parenting these new, little people and personalities really started to come out!

June - The start of summer brought lots of fun outside activities and.........a trip to Kyrgyzstan for Kevin, myself and Esen!  We spent 2 weeks in Bishkek visiting Kamila on our required bonding trip (i.e., trip 1).  She is incredible and feisty and beautiful and so ready to come home. We celebrated her 4th birthday while we were in country. The trip for Esen could not have come at a better time.  He really needed something that was just for him that didn't involve Bam and Hiwot.  He was so proud to be back in "his country" and handled the travel like a champ!

July - Marissa celebrated her THIRD birthday!  Unbelievable to me that she is already three.  I look back at the past three years and how much she has changed and accomplished and I am truly blown away.  Not to mention the lifetime of lessons she has taught me in the past three years.  July also brought the start of a very difficult time medically for Marissa.  She was admitted to the hospital on 7/17 and with the exception of a couple of very short trips home, remains hospitalized.  More on that in detail in later posts.

August - School preparations for all four kids combined with Marissa being in the hospital monopolized most of August.

September - School started - Early Childhood, 4K, Kindergarten and First Grade - geez!! Unfortunately, Marissa didn't start with her EC class and who knows when she will, but the others did start school on schedule and are loving it so far. 

That brings us up to date, in a nutshell.  I'll try to elaborate on each kiddo more and get caught up, but at least you know a little of what we've been up to.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

It's Me

Well....the photo is quite obviously not me, but I am here again.  It's been six months - SIX!  In some ways it seems like a really long time, and in other ways I can't believe all that has happened in that short span of time.  I've often wanted to start writing again, but life gets in the way and the words don't seem to want to come. At least not words that make sense or seem to have any sort of profound meaning.  I need this, though.  I need the therapy it provides - the outlet. I need a place to log what goes on with my family because I know I won't remember it all and frankly I suck at life books and photo boxes and journals and everything else I thought I'd be really great at as a mother.  So, I'm back to blogging (I hope).  I have no frickin' clue where to begin to catch up, but sometimes you just have to jump, right?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Yes, we are here....

Just a quick note to let you know we are home and doing well.  I promise to update soon and yes, with pictures - if I can manage to get them off my camera!!  The past week has been great, but pretty crazy!  The kids are all settling in well and everyone is learning how to be a family.  We're dealing with some significant medical issues and it's going to take some time and patience to get everyone healthy, but most importantly we're together and happy! :)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Photo-a-Day 29 Peace

What a fitting end to photo-a-day for a month.  Last night was a peaceful night.  The kids slept well, we slept fairly well and everything is going great.  Can't wait to get home, though. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Photo-a-Day 28 Forever

Sorry it's blurry - just pretend you're looking at it through tear-filled eyes!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Photo-a-Day 25 So many boys

Esen's playing basketball right now - with about 100 other 5-7 year old boys.  It's crazy to see them all out there together in their little jersey shirts!  When did he become so grown up?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Photo-a-Day 21 Skin Testing

I didn't have my camera with me today so this is (quite obviously) not Marissa's arm.  She saw her new pulmonologist/allergist today, who is also wonderful - we sure do luck out with the docs!  She has a severe allergy to dogs and cats and is NOT allergic to milk (YAY no more soy).  While he feels that a medication could help her when/if she has a brief encounter with a dog or cat, living with them is simply not an option.  Her lung function is being compromised.  She has asthma and BPD and it is getting worse.  She is currently on two nebulized medications and he has added another oral medication until we can get things under control (i.e., until there are no longer dogs in her daily living environment).  We have two dogs, who are both pretty old.....anyone out there looking for new four-legged friends?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Photo-a-Day 19 The joys of paper

Marissa loves paper!  She loves to tear it, shake it, crumple it, play with it; and thankfully a couple of weeks ago stopped eating it.  I think a lot of kids go through the paper tearing stage and since she only has use of one arm, the only way she can tear it is with her mouth.  Now that she's not eating it, we can let her tear and rip and play to her hearts content!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Photo-a-Day 18 A few more pieces

Last year, in June to be exact, we learned that we could file a petition with USCIS to obtain the packet of super secret sealed documents that we presented to Immigration when we arrived in Chicago with Esen.  Shortly after filing all of the required proof of identity, we received the packet.  It contained all of the originals of the documents we already had.  Unfortunately, there was nothing new.  Sometimes families have gotten a few extra pieces of info about their kiddos or birth families.  I haven't thought about it since.

Today we got this from USCIS. 

On it is a cover letter which explains "......we have concluded our investigation and search for documents.....included is 101 pages of documents pertaining to your son's adoption....."   COOL!  It is every single document we filed with USCIS, every document that was generated by them, every document that was filed in Kyrgyzstan, including a few we didn't have. 

As any adoptive parent knows, when you have no information about your child's history, every single piece is so priceless.  And really, how cool is it that it's neatly organized on a CD.  Thank you USCIS - today, we are friends.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Photo-a-Day 17 Scary to Sweet

Apparently I suck at this photo-a-day thing.  Yesterday was pretty much one of those days where I just managed to get through and that was about it.  Marissa had an epic bad day - like probably the worst on record.  Her bad days have thankfully decreased in number thanks to her intervention team, but unfortunately the severity of her behaviors has continued to escalate.  Days like yesterday are a reality check for me; they make me wonder how we're going to handle things as Marissa continues to get bigger and stronger.  She has some behaviors that are very violent.  I spent a solid 10 hours yesterday just trying to keep her from hurting herself.  Add to that the stress of not knowing why.  I can't just write it off to her being a sassy 2 1/2 year old or maybe coming down with a cold.  I have to think about three cranial shunt catheters and four valves, seizure activity, a gall bladder shunt, and the myriad of potential complications that could be happening inside her little body.  My wheels begin to turn, I begin to feel panic and she probably feels my stress, too.  By the end of the day yesterday, I was completely and totally spent.

Today, she is better.  I have no explanation for what was going on yesterday.  I guess it doesn't really matter because it has obviously passed and that means that for now, shunts are fine and seizures are stable.  Today - she is happy and that makes me happy. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Photo-a-Day 15 Blast from the Past

I turned on my computer today and this photo file was open.  This is one of my all time favorite pictures of Esen and Marissa.  They are so peaceful and sweet (and small)! 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Photo-a-Day 14 Last Day-Hearts for Hope

PLEASE take a few moments out of your Valentine's Day today to remember all the orphans who don't know what love feels like.  1 card, $1, 1 stamp - you could help change a life!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Photo-a-Day 11&12 A Slideshow!

Well, I made it 10 days before slacking and missing a day - better than I thought I'd do!  To make it up to you, I'm going to share a slideshow that I put together shortly after we returned from Ethiopia in December.  I watch it a few times a week and it brings me so much joy and still makes me cry.  I miss my kids so much it actually hurts.  I think about the last day we saw them and how they made us promise to hurry back for them.  I think about how long two months feels to a 4 and 5 year old.  I can't believe it's already been two months.  I wonder how much longer it'll be. 

So, grab a glass of wine and enjoy this 12 minute peek into our journey to Ethiopia and the sweetness that is the two, little souls we will soon welcome into our family.  **Oh, but first scroll to the bottom of the page and pause my blog music**

Friday, February 10, 2012

Photo-a-Day 10 Our Family Through My Child's Eyes

Esen made these yesterday and seeing them laid out together made my heart skip a beat.  Our family is just....our family.  I forget sometimes that we're a little unique in the way we've come together.  I love that he understands and that he is proud of it, too. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Photo-a-Day 8 Hearts For Hope

photo borrowed from
Valentine's Day is about True Love.  That is one of the things orphans never get to experience.  For four long years, The Kyrgyz 65 have fought tirelessly to be reunited with their waiting children.  We are getting close.  Lifesong for Orphans and Altynai's Fund have partnered to try and ensure that no child is left behind.  For $1 (or more if you're so inclined), a stamp and a few moments of your time, you can join the fight and help bring love and hope to these children and their waiting families.  Please consider joining this mission by sending a valentine with your $1 donation to:

Lifesong for Orphans
Attn: Rich Metcalf/Altynai's Fund

202 N. Ford St., PO Box 40
Gridley, IL 61744

You can also check out the Altynai's Legacy Adption Fund Blog for more info.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Photo-a-Day 7 Packed In

My husband works hard - really hard.  He manages an extremely busy aircraft maintenance shop.  He has to coordinate repairs and a team of guys and try to keep everyone (especially demanding customers) happy.  Ultimately, if something goes wrong, it falls on his shoulders - and you don't want something to go wrong when your up in the air in one of these babies.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Photo-a-Day 6 EMBASSY!!

Today we received word that our petition was filed with the US Embassy in Addis Ababa.  This is the final step in the process prior to our travel back to bring them home!!  Now we just have to wait for them to approve our petition and issue us an appointment.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Photo-a-Day 5 Exhaustion

If it were socially acceptable (and if I were this cute), there are many days I'd probably pass out immediately upon entering the house.  Yes - he is using his football as a pillow - all boy! :)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Photo-a-Day 4 Determination and Anticipation

My little man is growing up so fast!  He has been so dedicated this past month to helping out whenever he can with painting, building, cleaning and organizing to get ready for "his kids" to come home!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Photo-a-Day 3 Fear and Triumph

Two years ago today, death knocked on our door.  I remember every second of that day.   It's been a long journey back - full of tears, joy, fear, uncertainty, guilt and celebration.  Not a day goes by that I don't remember those dark days we spent wondering "what if?"  I'm so grateful we never had to find out. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Photo-a-Day 2 Simply Delicious

I find myself longing for some Injera and all the fixins.  I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that I'm really missing my kids.......