Saturday, November 9, 2013 Angel

There's a newish button the sidebar of my blog. I decided this year to become an Angel Tree Warrior for a Reece's Rainbow kiddo after I stumbled across Ulysses. Read his profile and I think it'll be apparent why I fell so hard for him. He reminds me of someone pretty special in my life. I just know he would be a very loved and welcome addition to a family. Unfortunately so many of the families like ours who are willing and able to adopt children like Ulysses are not in a financial position to do so. That's where we as a community can come together to break down those barriers and pave the road to freedom for a child. This little boy can thrive, he CAN and he WOULD. I have living proof right in front of me. Please consider a donation of any amount to Ulysses' Angel Tree fund. It is 100% secure, tax deductible, and 100% goes to him - just click the Angel Tree button to the right. Help us reach our goal of adding $1000 to his fund by Christmas.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Would You Join Me?

It's that time of year again when people begin to plan for their Holiday Season. For some it means planning trips to visit family, for others it might mean planning extravagant meals or decorating their homes. For many it means making gift lists and heading out to the stores. Unfortunately, for too many families, it means facing these special times without loved ones they've lost. It means hanging empty stockings, visiting gravesites, wondering what could've been.

 My dear friend, Amy, lost her precious son, Sam two years ago. Amy and her husband, Matt, celebrate Sam's life in so many amazing ways throughout the year. They are two of the most incredible parents I have ever had the privilege to know. Last year, they sent out letters to family and friends asking for help honoring Sam. It was simple really, in the whole scheme of things. Would we consider doing Random Acts of Kindness in his memory? Near Christmas, would we send a letter to Amy and Matt so they could fill Sam's stocking with all of the Random Acts of Kindness that were done during The Season in his memory? I was touched so deeply by this gesture. It changed me not only for those couple of months, but forever, really.  This year, before their letter even arrived, I had already begun thinking about all the great things we could do leading up to the Holidays and hoped that maybe we could spread this further. What if even more people were involved? Sam had such a huge impact on those who knew him, and now he's having an impact through those people on so many others. What if he could have an impact on people who didn't have the honor of knowing him?

 So friends, I'm humbly asking you to consider joining me in this journey. If you have a little kindness to spare, perhaps for the next two months, you could share it in Sam's memory. It doesn't have to be big, it doesn't have to cost anything.  Hold a door for someone, visit someone who is lonely or ill, donate some of your unused clothing or toys, cook a meal for someone who needs one.  If you have some spare cash, buy a coffee for the person behind you line or leave some change at the soda machine for someone to find.  There are so many things you could do to bring a little happiness and kindness back into the world. Let's stuff Sam's stocking this year. After all, the world could use a little more kindness, don't you agree?

If you'd like to participate, you can reach me via email or PM on Facebook.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

One Year

Hello, poor ol’ abandoned blog o’mine. I’ve returned for what could be a brief stint. No more grand promises of keeping up with my writing. I’ve grown smarter than that.

Today, though, I need to write. I have so much swirling around inside me. You see, it was one year ago today that I sent my baby girl into the operating room for her 50th surgery. One year ago today, she had a “temporary” shunt placed. Only one was placed that day because that’s all he could do. She needed three; she’s always needed more than one to survive. She’s a complicated mess in that little head of hers and one just doesn’t do the job. We (and by we, I mean he being kind pretending that I actually had a say in the matter) also opted for a pleural shunt this time which probably wasn’t going to work, at least not for long. This surgery would be the finale to a three month battle during which we came so close to losing our precious girl several times. It came after several ‘sit downs’ with our neurosurgeon discussing the options (or lack thereof) and the after hard question was raised – “How far do you really want to go?” The outlook was often grim and many days were very, very dark during those three months.

October 12, 2012, we had some hope. We had our two favorite surgeons poised and ready to place a ventriculo-pleural shunt that was meant to stay in place for a brief period while her tired and damaged brain took a little more time to heal so that a permanent, multi-shunt system could be devised and placed. In the days following surgery, we hit a few snags, but overall, our little Noodle rallied. Dr. B made it very clear that he was guardedly optimistic that this shunt would give us about a month or so and that we needed to be prepared to walk this road again soon. Over the coming weeks, we were watchful and stayed prepared. No plans were made, the suitcases stayed packed. We planned on spending the Holidays in the hospital.

November came and went, then December and January, February and so on.  We dove into therapy and Noodle worked harder than ever to heal.  We've explored several alternative treatments as well.  It is now one year later and while we have questioned the function of Noodle’s shunt a few times over the year, we have come to trust that beautiful piece of hardware more and more. When she falls ill, I find myself jumping to other things that could be wrong as a first guess and putting shunt malfunction lower down on the list. Perhaps I, too, am finally starting to heal.

This past year has been quite remarkable for our little Noodle. She has never in her life been given such a long opportunity to heal and just “be”. Life for her has always been about pain, illness, surgery and fighting. This past year has been about growth, happiness, laughter, firsts, and just being a little girl. I won’t lie; there have been some tough days and she has had to work very hard; but she has faced it all with such grace and spirit.

We have not seen her neurosurgeon in a year. It has not been an accident or an oversight. It’s not because I’m a bad mom or negligent in her care. It has been a conscious decision, maybe a bit on the superstitious side, maybe a bit irrational, but my decision nonetheless. We are, however, paying Dr. B. a visit in two weeks to check in and celebrate this one year shuntaversary. May he be delighted and amazed by the beautiful young lady he will see before him as she certainly has changed from the sick, lifeless girl he treated a year ago.

Today, I celebrate the life of my daughter. Today, I am filled with gratitude and amazement. Today, I thank her for choosing to fight so hard when I know it would’ve been easier to give up. Today, I thank all of those who believed in her even when things looked hopeless. Today, I pray for another year.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Therapy, teeth & injuries....oh my!

Our first week of hyperbarics went amazingly well.  Expect the worst, hope for the best.....that's kind my approach to new and potentially scary things for Noodle.  I arm myself with everything I can that has the potential to soothe her and we jump in. 

Day one was a little rocky, but overall so much better than I expected.  Noodle got fitted for her hood and tolerated getting into it and into the chamber with me.  When we started going up to pressure, she got pretty upset.  It was challenging to keep her from head-banging & thrashing around a lot, but with lots of singing and squeezes, she calmed once we made it up to pressure and settled in.  For the next hour she vacillated between happy/content with a few outbursts of agitation, only becoming very upset again when we depressurized.  She was thrilled to have the hood taken off.  For me, the experience was fine.  I didn't really have any time to think about being trapped in that tiny space with no way to get out in a hurry or all of the things that could potentially go wrong since all of my energy and focus was on keeping Noodle calm and happy.  My only real complaint - the God, the heat - it has to be well over 100 degrees in there!  Since Noodle doesn't thermoregulate, it is a bit of a concern, but I know know to strip her down to just a light one-piece dress, no pants and as long as she's calm she's okay.  We keep the lights off to help cut down on the heat as well. 

Day two was great!  Noodle was in a drug induced stupor sleeping when we got there and we managed to get her into her hood and into the chamber without waking her!!  She slept the entire time!  I may or may not have taken a short nap myself - I'll never tell, but judging by the Albert Einstein hairdo I had when I emerged, it probably happened.

Day three was absolutely incredible.  There was a small bit of fussing with the hood, but once we got into the chamber, Noodle just laid back and this amazing sense of peace came over her.  Those who know her really well know that she is not the type to just sit and take it all in.  She's kind of "on guard" all the time.  She's tense and unless she's in a deep sleep, she's always moving, fidgeting, "talking," etc.  But Wednesday, she was just lying there and her whole body felt relaxed.  Times like that I wish so much she could tell me what she was feeling and thinking.  It was as if she knew she was going to feel good and was just waiting for it.  When our dive was over, she was mad - really mad!  She did NOT want to get out of that chamber!  I'm so excited to see what next week brings!

In other news, all four kids visited the dentist this week and we had four perfect reports!  How amazing is that?!?!  We are so incredibly blessed on the dental front, especially considering that 2 kids had no dental care for their first 5 years, 1 kid had failure to thrive and 1 kid is tube fed.  All 4 should have some sort of dental problems, but so far so good.

The big kids are loving their summer programs so far.  Spare time is filled with ball playing, water fights, and of course - injuries!  Boys - I swear, they'll have developed a complete second skin before they hit adolescence.  Noodle is spending most of her spare time at therapy and Esen is also doing extra OT and PT.  It's been a wild start to the summer!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Let the Madness Begin.....


The kids have been counting the days.

I've been counting the days.

It seems like I have a ton of laundry with school clothes and play clothes.

I'm over it - school, that is.  I've been pretty checked out for a while now.  Not the best "school mom" this past month or so.  Apparently, that anticipation for summer break never really goes away as you age.

I would love for someone to come and do all my laundry.

Unfortunately, summer isn't going to be a super-relaxing time for everyone.  The 'big kids' had big dreams of lounging around at home, playing in their little pool, riding bikes and having camp outs every night.  Unfortunately, I, being the big bubble-burster informed them that they would, indeed, be attending Clubhouse and Daycare on the weekdays.

I will likely do laundry.

We are, instead of staying at home to play all day, embarking on an exciting new journey. Next Monday, thanks to the outpouring of love and support of friends, family, & perfect strangers, Noodle begins her Hyperbaric Treatment at Wisconsin Integrative Hyperbaric Center.  We are so excited about this opportunity and, as with any new treatment, are approaching it with guarded optimism.  Many children have experienced amazing outcomes.  Our greatest hope for her is and always has been comfort and happiness.  If we can achieve that, we have won!  If, by some miracle, this treatment helps her to progress with skills and make gains, well then that is a huge bonus.  Along with her hyperbarics, we'll be doing added PT, OT and cranial sacral therapy to try and get the maximum benefits.  It will be pretty intense few months.

Esen will also amp up PT and OT this summer and all of the kids will have various medical appointments to get out of the way. 
July will bring three weeks of Summer School for all four kids and the first time riding the school bus for Noodle!  Another very exciting milestone. 

More school clothing - more laundry.

Kevin and I are trying to carve out some time here and there to work on some home projects. 

We do laundry - a lot of laundry.

Weekends are low-key and we try to let the kids just be free to do whatever they wish.  Lots of fort-building, water fights, 'camping,' and general silliness. 

Did I mention the laundry?

Happy Summer Everyone!!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Happy Gotcha Day, Esen!

Six years ago, our lives were forever changed.  Of course, the addition of  your first child always changes your life in the typical "holy crap, we've a kid now" kind of ways, but six years ago today, for me anyway, I had my single most life-altering experience.  Six years ago today, I walked into an orphanage.  I needed that.  I needed that reality.  I not only needed my son; my too small, too sick, too scared, painfully damaged son; I needed life to teach me that I was selfish and closed off; that I was on the wrong path.  I needed my eyes opened to the larger world around me.  I credit one, little person for changing my life for the better and that's Esen.

Who knew I would learn so much from this one, little person.  Who knew that as the days passed and the healing slowly began (and still continues) that our hearts would open and change in such big ways.

Esen, you are the greatest gift the world could've ever given us.  You make me smile and laugh every day. You always keep me guessing and definitely keep me on my toes!  You have taught me patience, gratitude, humility, forgiveness and courage.  You are a living testament to the resilience of the human spirit. 

Thank you, my little monkey, for allowing us to be your Mom & Dad - it is an honor, a privilege and I am truly grateful every second of every day.  I love you more than you can ever know!

Happy Gotcha Day, Buddy!!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Thirty-One for Noodle

Marissa (aka "Noodle") was born at 25 weeks old on July 20, 2009.  She has endured more in her short life than anyone should ever have to endure.  Too many times, we were told that she wouldn't survive. Twice I've stood by and watched as a team of doctors and nurses fought to bring her back to life.  Too many times, we were told to prepare for the worst.  Too many times, we were asked how "far" we wanted to go. We have always opted to fight because SHE has always opted to fight.
Noodle struggles with very complicated diagnoses including:  Hydrocephalus, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, hemiplegia and cortical blindness to name a few.  She has endured 50 surgeries and has spent around 300 days in the hospital so far.  There is no cure for any of her conditions.  She works so hard every day to overcome the obstacles placed before her and she is living proof that miracles do exist.  She has been an inspiration to all who have met her and she brings a smile to the face of every person who is lucky enough to cross her path.
We have been given the opportunity through a generous grant to try an innovative treatment for Noodle that could not only relieve some of her pain and discomfort, but that also just might help give her some freedom by restoring some of the function she has lost.  The grant we received covers two-thirds of the total cost of treatment, but we need to fund the remaining one-third by raising an additional $2,000.  We owe it to our little fighter to give her this chance.
Thank you for considering supporting Noodle by participating in this fundraiser and by sharing it far and wide with friends, family, co-workers and anyone else you can think of.  Together, I know we can do this!
*Online at:  THIRTY-ONE for NOODLE - event closes 4/10/13.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Flashback Friday

My Hair - it's a constant source of frustration for me....always has been.  It's been long, short, straight, curly.  It's been brown, blonde, black, red, multi-colored.  It's been highlighted, lowlighted, chemically processed and damaged beyond repair at times.  For quite some time, I've enjoyed it short.  I went nearly completely gray several years back and the constant salon coloring and cutting became too expensive and too time-consuming so I just let it grow and took to coloring at home.  Now, I'm sick and tired of it again and I need professional help!! So.....what's it gonna be - help me out or I just might do something really drastic! 

(Please never mind that I have aged A LOT and lost and gained the same 20+ lbs MANY times over the years)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Flashback Friday

One year ago this weekend I boarded a plane...

And soon after, we went from this...

 To this...

Our home is full, our hearts are even fuller.  Though we are challenged some days, we are grateful everyday. We are still learning and growing.  I can't believe it's been a year already.  I can't wait to see what the next year brings!

Have a Happy Friday and an Amazing Weekend!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Flashback Friday

Winter has me down - waaaay down.  I'm so sick of the snow and the cold and the driving....blech.  I dug back into winters past..........who could be crabby looking at this cuteness from 2008?

Happy Friday - enjoy your weekend!!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

After FIVE, long years, it's hard to get too excited, but we are preparing for the doors in Kyrgyzstan to open once again.  Hope is never lost completely.  It can't be - there's a little girl there who depends us and frankly, if I may be completely honest, I depend on her.  You see, my heart isn't whole without her.  I love my kids, ALL of them and yes, I am happy with "the ones I have," but she is mine, too.  She is my daughter and I can't stop fighting for her.  We have reason again to be hopeful and that means getting our ducks in a row, getting our paperwork updated and raising funds so that we can storm that little pancreas-shaped country at a moment's notice and get.her.out!

A lot of people believe we should've given up years ago.  A lot of people are tired of hearing about it.  Some are no doubt unbelievers.  I can't say that I blame them.  BUT, for those of you who have it in you to fight with us and to believe in miracles, there are ways you can help.  Every penny we raise gets her closer to home.  You can check out our fundraising tab for ideas.  You can watch our sidebar as well.  Very soon, there will be something super exciting happening over at Altynai's Legacy Fund so please pop over and catch up with Suzanne.  You can read about many of Kamila's friends who are still waiting and some of her friends who have been lucky enough to make it home already! 

Stay tuned..................

Friday, February 1, 2013

Flashback Friday

For today's Flashback Friday, it seems fitting to focus on the entire past five years.  January marked five years since we began Kamila's adoption.  FIVE.LONG.YEARS.  Incidentally, today, an article was published by David Crary for which I was interviewed.  Here is one of the versions - the one that I think has the nicest photo gallery (be sure to check out the link on the left of the story).

For 5 Years US Families Pursue Kyrgyz Adoptions

Happy Friday - enjoy your weekend!!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Flashback Friday

I’m starting a new feature here on my little blog.  I’ve stolen borrowed the idea from my friend, Jessi, whom I highly recommend you visit over at Life with Jack. (But don’t click over yet, because once you do, you’ll be hooked forever – Jackpants couldn’t get any cuter and Jessi is multi-talented)!  Every Friday I’m going jump back in time and revisit something…..anything….could be a time that was fun or sad or life-altering.  Maybe I’ll just post a picture or maybe I’ll feel like writing a lot.  My goal is to at least show up every Friday and post something!
This week, thanks to my dear friend, Jes & her husband Ryan, who are in Ecuador at this very moment adopting their incredibly beautiful daughter, E; I am feeling nostalgic.  I’ve been in contact with them this week about their experiences with E and the bonding process and it’s taking me back to our experiences those first days with each of our children.  It’s crazy how quickly memories fade.  Don't get me wrong, I can still remember every single second, but the ‘hardness’ of it has softened over time.  The drama and the fear that I know I felt in those first minutes, days and weeks isn’t sitting front and center anymore. 
Kamila - July 2008
For those who have adopted children from hard places, children who have experienced trauma, older children, children with medical needs, you know what I’m talking about.   Parenting in general is hard work, but it is compounded when you have to travel to a foreign country to bring home a child who does not speak your language, who is older, perhaps has medical issues, physical pain, emotional issues that stem from years of neglect or abuse; and to be on your own with no family or friends to drop by and help.  You’re also away from the comforts of home while trying to take care of said child who incidentally may want nothing to do with you.  You’re managing all of this after waiting and fighting for years to be with your child.  You’re trying to do what’s best, trying not fail, while trying to manage your own feelings of rejection and exhaustion.  That’s a lot to overcome and it’s hard and it’s painful, but it’s also joyous as you watch your child begin to come out of their shell and grow to trust you and like you; and as the weeks and months go by, actually begin to even love you. 
Esen's Gotcha Day - April 24, 2007
I’ll never forget walking up to Esen’s orphanage that first time.  I was filled with excitement and anticipation until they brought him out.  Then, my instinct was to turn and run.  I was so scared because he looked so sick and so small.  I thought:  “There is no way I can do this.”  Obviously, I didn’t (run, that is) or we wouldn’t be where we are now.  That experience and those feelings made me stronger.   Acknowledging them and allowing myself to be open to the experience opened a whole new world for us.  
Meeting Marissa for the first time - October 31, 2009
Two and half years later when we walked into that New Orleans NICU to meet our fragile, little Noodle, I felt ready for absolutely anything the Universe had to throw at us.  Little did I know the ride we were about to go on, but we have managed and we continue to grow strong.  Some days, I have it all together and things go smoothly and some days I can't tell my you know what from a hole in the ground.  I've learned that it's okay.  I've learned that I am so not Superwoman and that my kids are okay with that.  I've learned that I can screw up and the Earth continues to rotate on it's axis.  
Court Day - December 7, 2011
 I guess my point is, hold on tight, but don't be afraid to let yourself go.  Let yourself feel the the good, bad and ugly feelings.  Let yourself ‘fail’ (you’re probably not actually failing anyway).  I can’t believe how many times over the last 6 years there’s been a little voice in my head that has said “you can’t” or “you’ll never be able to” or “that’s crazy” or “you shouldn’t,”  and we’ve done it anyway.  The fact that we’ve persevered in spite of those voices and the negativity is the only reason all of our children are here.  And, it's the reason we continue to fight for the one who's not. 

Happy Friday - have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Looking Forward

Only a little more than halfway through the month and I’m behind on my New Year’s post.   I’d say I’m right on track! No doubt, 2013 promises to be a year full of surprises, in true Fenske style.   My mantra going into 2013 comes from a necklace that I received for Christmas.  I have long coveted many of the amazing items over at Funky Fish Designs and this one is especially meaningful to me.  It really is the basis for how our little family came to be and continues to thrive.  When the days get long and I feel like I can’t even breathe, I reach up and hold this in my hand and It reminds me where we’ve been, where we’re going and what our family is all about.  It reminds me that this world is so much bigger than little, old me.  It reminds me to be humble, patient and try and live a life of service.
We’re starting out the year with medical issues.  Noodle has developed a pleural effusion.  My first response was “oh shit.”  But, oddly, as I sat and listened to Neurosurgeon Extraordinaire discuss our options, I was strangely calm (he has that effect on me).  I know we are running out of good options.  I know that anything we try is risky and I know that the odds are stacked against us.  Still, she ALWAYS beats them.  She ALWAYS proves everyone wrong.  I feel, to the core of my being that she is going to be okay.  As he talked about our absolute wild card option – you know, the one that you don’t pull until the bitter end , the one where he says “I’ve always wanted to try it” and the one where if it fails, he uses words like “incompatible with life” – I found myself having an out of body experience.  I politely said, we’ll talk about that some other day and I tucked the information away in some file cabinet deep in the recesses of my brain; hopefully never to be used again.  Meanwhile, we keep her comfy and stable and wait for all the surgeons to work out their schedules and pick a date. 
One of my intentions this year (I stopped making 'resolutions' years ago) is to slow down.  I really desperately want to try and focus on not having commitments.  I’ve been really inspired by a couple of other mamas who have taken steps to declutter their lives.  After all, is it critical to attend every single function?  I say not!  I want our kids to be able to just be kids.  I want them to know the value of having time to just BE.  I don’t want to rush through life.  I see too many people doing it and it makes me so sad.  I wonder if they're going to look back someday and be sad that they missed out on simple things.  I want my kids to have time to develop a sense of who they are and what they like and don’t like.  I want them to be individuals and not cookie-cutter kids.  I want them to be able to make decisions for themselves and be creative and know how to play.  Yes, I’m learning to let go and that is hard for me because I am a total control freak.  Yes, I have let them go to school on the rare occasion in weird socks and mis-matched clothes because it is what they wanted to wear.  Builds character, right? 
Another one of my intentions is to reclaim my health.  I have definitely let go of myself in taking care of everyone else.  I was reminded by someone recently that although I do strongly believe that “It’s Not About Me,” sometimes I have to make it about me or I won’t be around to take care of the people who matter to me most.   She was right.  So, I have been diligently making changes and focusing on caring for myself like I care for my little ones.  Hopefully I can shed this extra half of a person I’ve been carrying around and build up some extra energy to keep chasing my little animals around!
We received word just this week that things are once again looking up in Kyrgyzstan.  It’s hard to believe that five years have passed since we signed that first document starting our second adoption from there.  FIVE YEARS!  Two agencies, five dossiers, and tens of thousands of dollars later, Kamila is still waiting for us and we are still waiting for her.  People call us crazy (not so much to our faces anymore), but we made a promise to her and we intend to keep it.  If all goes as planned, she could be home this Spring.  You can check out the Fundraising tab and the sidebar for ways to help if you’re so inclined.  We have a loooong ways to go to reach our goal of what we need to complete her adoption, so your support is greatly appreciated. 
The school year is flying by and I’m amazed at how much the kids are learning.  Esen is a math genius!  He’s obsessed with numbers and is forever quizzing me, which isn’t a good thing considering I barely made it through freshman algebra by the time I graduated High School.  His behavior has improved at school with the addition of some more challenging work, but if he gets bored, it’s hard for him to keep it together.  Hiwot loves everything about school, is a social butterfly and practices her letters and songs religiously.  She has such a strong desire to soak up knowledge and learn everything she can.  She never stops asking questions and never, ever stops talking – which will be her downfall in the classroom!  Bamlak is struggling some and we’re feeling the guilt for pushing him into Kindergarten when he probably should’ve been held back.  It was a tough call, though.  We really did not want he and Hiwot in the same grade and definitely didn’t want to hold her back for 2 years so we took a leap of faith in placing him.  He isn’t as motivated as his siblings and doesn’t seem to have the ability to retain information.  He’s patched into ELL and a Reading program, so we’ll see what the rest of the year brings.  Marissa recently started her EC program and they are coming to her right now since it’s a bit safer than her joining her class.  It’s an opportunity for the teachers and therapists to at least get to know her one-on-one.  With impending surgery, she’ll be taking a break again, but we hope that she’ll at least get to join her class for a bit later this year.
Today, I spent the bulk of my day arranging schedules around surgery, doctor appointments, and therapy appointments.   Marissa is receiving outside Physical, Occupational, Speech, and Craniosacral Therapy; and is going to begin Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy as soon as we have funding secured.  Esen is going to begin outside Physical and Occupational Therapy next week.  Marissa sees 12 different doctors/specialists; Esen sees 3, Bamlak and Hiwot each see 2.   After I figure that out for a week or two, I plug in the school schedule, work schedules, special activities, then figure out daycare, transport and busing.  I always think I have a really good system until something unforeseen happens to throw a wrench in things, then it all falls apart and I forget something and feel like a big idiot!  I would love to hear others’ management systems.  One of my intentions for this year is to get a little more organized and to communicate better (yes, with you, my dear husband who always feels like I don’t tell him anything – because I probably didn’t and not because I don’t want to, because my brain has probably melted).
I have absolutely no idea where we’re going to end up this year.  I have hopes.  I have intentions.  I have fears.  I try not to let any of those things get in the way of the right now.  I find myself feeling very restless and very small at times.   I feel like I should be doing so much more than I’m doing, but yet, I feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day.  Looking forward, I’m going to try not to look back.  I’m going to try to focus on the minute that I’m in and make the most of every second……
 In the famous words of a very, wise man:
“Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regrets. Appreciate your friends. Continue to learn. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.” ~Dr. Seuss

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Looking Back......

I’m not sure how to even begin to describe 2012.  We certainly went through a lot of change individually and as a family.  We spent the first couple of months preparing to welcome two new members to our little clan, wondering the whole time what it was going to be like to double our kiddos overnight.  In March, Bamlak and Hiwot came home!  The transition was far from seamless, but in time, everyone settled in and found their niche.  Months later, it was like we had all been together forever. 

In June, we hopped on a plane and travelled 6,000+ miles to Bishkek, where we spent two weeks bonding with our little girl – the little girl who still sits alone in an orphanage 1639 days after we promised to be her parents.  Esen went with us and it was absolutely surreal to take him back to where he was born, to where it all began.  Walking into that orphanage on April 23, 2007, changed the course of our lives forever.  It changed what we thought we knew about what we wanted.  It changed what we thought we were there to do, what we thought our plans were for the future.  It set the wheels in motion.  As bitter as I am sometimes about that country, the government and the whole process in light of what we’ve been through this past 4 ½ years, I have no choice but to be grateful because we have Esen and because all of this has shaped what we’ve become.
2012 also afforded us the opportunity to serve through a Both Hands Project.  It was such an amazing experience (and a lot of work) to see what happens when people come together for the sole purpose of helping another human being.  The outcome was amazing and we raised funds for Kamila’s adoption as well.  I highly recommend anyone out there looking to fundraise for an adoption consider a BothHands Project through Lifesong for Orphans.  It is a life-changing experience not only for the crew, but for the widow being served.
The summer was filled with water fights, scraped knees, new foods to explore and two kiddos who had never even touched bicycles learning to ride two-wheelers!  Lord help me, I’ve got three dare-devils under the age of 7!  The boys had a blast riding up and down the street while Hiwot enjoyed peddling around the driveway.  I couldn't believe it when they took off since in March they couldn't even pedal tricycles!  We stuck pretty close to home over the summer and really just focused on getting to know one another and having fun.  

2012 wouldn’t have been complete without some hospital drama.  While I’d like to say that I’m going to forget it and put it in the past, but a mama can never really do that.  Three months in the hospital, multiple surgeries, life-threatening infections, seizures, discussions about your child dying, respiratory arrest, those are things that when I close my eyes at night are there as if they are happening right now.   The end of 2012 brought a new, troubling diagnosis that we haven’t even begun to peel the layers off of yet.   Still, I have hope because I have to.  I can’t give up because my heart won’t let me.
We were so blessed to all be home together for the Holidays.  Christmas was nice and quiet and for the New Year, we decided to take the kids to a mini-indoor waterpark in Wisconsin Dells.  They had so much fun (as did the grown-ups)!
I have no idea what 2013 holds for us.  I have some wishes and I have some intentions (I don’t do resolutions), but I know better than to make plans. 
Up next……Looking Forward