Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Thoughts on Running

When I was in high school, my brother and I spent one summer running.  I can't remember if we were training for anything, but we'd get up early in the morning and head out, three times a week.  If you know my brother, you'd know we were sort of odd training partners.  He's 6'1" and I'm 5'2", so I was basically taking two steps to his one.  He liked to talk, and since I was really focused on air consumption, I did a lot of listening.  I'd have thoughts, opinions, things to add, but since I needed to focus on putting one foot in front of the other twice as often as he was, I rarely vocalized.  

It's been a while since I've blogged.  The last few months have been like the middle of a long race...head down, one foot in front of the other, thoughts streaming by with no breathe to spare.  I'm sure if I go back and reread this blog, somewhere I've written about how it's good for me to process things by writing about them.  But sometimes you have to pick and choose what good you're going to make time for (knitting a little, exercise) and what you will lay aside for a while.

Life has raced by in the meantime, and I'm not sure I'm ready to give up on this completely.  The tantalizing promise of change (that different will be better) is ahead of me with the start of a new year and a new semester.  No matter what happens, at least I've got these cuties to keep me company. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Back home

Success!  We were able to come home yesterday, and the last 24 hours at home have gone fairly well.  Titus was understandably upset coming out of surgery, but they were willing to give him all the pain meds we asked for in recovery, and Titus even talked a little to us in between bouts of crying.  The nurse we had on the floor was very quick once we got up there and really stayed on top of his pain management.  We were discharged the next morning, and once Titus had the IV out (he didn't like being tethered), he was almost back to his normal cheery self.

Now we just have to make it through the next week until the sutures come out, and he'll be set for a few years!  Liz is already talking about when she will get to stay at the hospital and have an "ouchy lip."



Saturday, August 13, 2016

An Update in Three Movements

Well, this four-ring circus has barreled down the track through summer, and we've finally made it to the summer finale.  We had a blast in the midwest, hanging out with all the cousins and other family, and enjoying the cool-ish weather thanks to all the rain.  We made it through our first week of G3 (our church VBS program) and even arrived early most days (since I was teaching and all...).  Art classes, hanging out, crazy summer rainy concerts at the biopark...and now our summer is drawing to a close.

M1:  The surgery

Titus has his last surgery on Monday.  With two surgeries under our belt, we know what to hope for and (sort of) what to prepare for.  Again, you can pray for wisdom for everyone who will be caring for Titus, and good pain management.  This one will be the last one for a while, but the longest--four hours!  I guess the lip repair was not partial, but temporary, so the surgeon has to go in and undo the lip repair before he can complete the final one.  It's a tricky surgery because he has to knit together all the muscles and blood veins, and there's the 'look' to figure out as well.  We are so blessed to have a great surgeon!

M2:  The peaches

I figured I'd need pictoral proof for this one.  Yes, that peach is 9.5 oz, and we're getting a lot of peaches that are over half a pound.  Such great timing with the surgery and all...but I get to practice giving out of the abundance that God has given us.

M3:  The Olympics

It's been so fun watching the Olympics now that the kids are older.  Lizzie says her favorite is "Katie LeDucky" and always asks if she is swimming.  The kids do gymnastics, so they've also been having fun watching the men's and women's events.  We talk about what events the kids could do some day (even though I don't really want them to), and marvel over the athletes.  And just in case we do end up there some day, I'll give you a sneak peak:

Monday, June 13, 2016

Summer of Four

I had great plans for this summer.  After all, it's the first summer I've had four kids, and the thought of all of them trashing my house every day was a little scary.  I was going to have a schedule for the week, with special time for each child, and lots of fun activities out of the house like using our zoo membership or going to the splash park.  I imagined all these when we were about a month out from finishing preschool.  Then one day I woke up with a sore throat, and the next day I started running a fever, and 24 days later I'm finally better. 

Frankly, it's such a novelty to have energy for activities besides subsistence, I think I could take on the world right now.  Unfortunately, I'm not sure I have time between everything that has come up this summer.  Piano lessons, speech therapy, a VBS week here and there, summer travel--I think we'll hit Titus's last surgery (August 15) before I can catch my breath.  And then school starts.  Boom.

Not to mention ALL the things that piled up when I took a hit for 24 days.  Nothing with imminent deadlines (thankfully), but long term to-do list was quite neglected.

The post I wrote about plans has come to mind a lot in the last few days, and not just because that was my last thought before surgery + illness derailed everything.  I am still thinking about that same tension between order and real life, but it'll be a good summer to practice being a little more relaxed about it too.  We can definitely take this summer one day at a time, and have fun doing whatever happens to come up that day.  Like a picnic at the playground during piano lessons.  Or playing house in the bedroom while Titus has speech therapy.  Or improptu outdoor dinners with after dinner gymnastics entertainment.  This summer, we will pursue memories instead of plans.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The End is Near

We are going on 18 hours of no pain meds, and Titus is doing great!  He will be two weeks post-op tomorrow, and it has been a real struggle to manage his pain levels.  We kept thinking he was ready to ease off the ibuprofen and tylenol, but even this past weekend, we were up in the middle of the night with him.  Of course, we discovered yesterday that he has an ear infection and sinus infection, so that might also explain it.  Poor baby.

But this morning he got hour-long crying spell!  He ate breakfast without fussing!  My baby is back!  He still has copious amounts of nasal secretions (isn't that a nice way of putting it?), but the end is in sight.

In the meantime, we are trying to stay ahead of our packed week of preschool activities--the joys of having two children in different classes.  And yes, I know it could be way worse.  :)  Whenever I ask a parent if they are almost done with school, I get pretty much the same answer:  "Yes," answered with the same drawn out tone you would use to describe the end of a dentist appointment involving multiple pulled teeth.  Hang in there--the end is near!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Baby Dedications with a Toddler

This morning our church held a baby dedication, and based on these pictures, someone felt perfectly fine with standing up in front of everyone.

They are a bit blurry, but you can see Titus attempting to make a run for it and doing his best Sumo wrestler impersonation.  Of course, he was not interested in being held AT ALL, and based on all the tugging, what he really wanted to do was run around the stage. 

Titus has been doing well, aside from the diet restrictions (liquids till Monday, then soft foods like yogurt and purees until Wednesday).  His "Mama" already sounds more clear, and I'm excited to see what kind of progress he will make in speech once everything is healed up. 

Of course the baby dedication was held to coincide with Mothers Day.  Maybe I have a lot more adoption friends in my facebook feed, or maybe it's because I know of some people who have lost mothers in the last year (although, I'm sure that happens every year), but this time, it's a little bittersweet.  I keep thinking about the mothers who will not be celebrating with their sweet child today, especially the ones who have contributed to my motherhood.  How do you celebrate something so full of both joy and sorrow?  It's a hard lesson to teach my kids, and one that will probably be taught sooner rather than later, thanks to our conspicuous family. 

But there is always hope.  Our service this morning began with Joy of the Lord by Rend Collective.  That's how we manage to make it through this whole life, fraught with pain but filled with joy too.  And I will teach my kids to look to the One who will, one day, make all things right. 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Almost Home Free

Yes, a 6am post about going home really means that we will try to go home today, and it all depends on the discharge schedule, and his fluid intake, and how he does on the oral pain medication.  But really, can you take anything a sleep-deprived person says at 6am seriously?  You shouldn't.

Thank you so much for your prayers.  Titus did great waiting for the surgery, despite a very empty stomach.  He went back to surgery around noon and was done in two hours, and the doctor was very pleased with the repair.  We had the same recovery nurse as last time, and she remember how hard it was for Titus.  She was really aggressive with pain management and even gave him some alternative pain meds that aren't super common for kids.  I think those helped a lot, and we'll definitely remember that for next time.  He also wanted to drink something right away, and that was really good sign too.

It's always a little rough after the transfer, since the pediatric floor has to review his chart and get everything settled before they start medicating.  I was a little frustrated at the beginning, but we got the pain meds going again and even had a chance to visit the outside play area.  One advantage of going later in the day is that we hit Titus's nap time/sleep time a little sooner--three seconds on the porch swing outside and he was out!  The nurse was able to find a rocking chair for our room, and we also spent a lot of time in that.  He settled down to sleep around 11:30PM and got a good five hours in before waking up again.  So I was able to sleep a little better this time around too, especially since I didn't have to worry about his lip. 

The surgeon signed off on his discharge, but the nurses want to make sure he is doing well on the oral pain medications before they let him leave.  So you could pray that everything falls into place this morning so that we can be home tonight. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Not Alone

Here we go again.  If you see a mom with two kids dressed up to go shopping, she may have just decided that a put-together outfit will help her hold it together today.

Of course, I had hoped that doing this once already would calm some of the nerves.  I am less worried about the unknowns this time, which is nice, and I know that in a week, it'll be better.  Still, I should probably accept that the day before surgery will just be one of those days.  So there's going to be a lot of deep breathing today, and songs like this one on repeat in the car.

I know so many people prayed for Titus to feel better the afternoon after the first surgery, and we absolutely saw those prayers answered.   So here are the specifics for this one:

1.  Pray that Titus will handle waiting for the surgery.  We found out yesterday that another (littler) baby will get the first surgery slot, so Titus will probably not begin his surgery until around noon.  He can't eat after midnight, so I'm not anticipating as happy a wait in the pre-op room this time.  Maybe you could pray that he sleeps late tomorrow too.  :)

2.  Pray for a successful surgery with no complications.  It will probably be from around noon until 2:30 PM.  We are thankful for such a great team who will care for Titus before, during, and after the surgery.  

3.  Pray for his pain management.  We've been told this surgery will be worse, because it's mostly muscle/soft tissue, and it's back where he swallows (they are repairing the soft palate).  The surgeon is going to try something different this time for the pain, so we are really praying that it will be more effective.

4.  Pray that I will sleep well tonight.  Last time I had strange dreams and very restless sleep, and that was not a great way to go into the surgery.

Thank you to everyone who has been praying--I will try to post an update tomorrow after the surgery.

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Pursuit of Order

I've gone through a flurry of tidying and organizing at our house.  It stems from a few different things.  First, I'm beginning to think about the next year of homeschooling, this time with two, and I wanted to get a little more organized and deliberate about what I have in the house.  We've hired someone to clean our house, and after looking at all the clutter they have to clean around, I was a little motivated to shed some of the extra stuff.

I was talking to a friend about it, though, and realized there was another motivation underlying all this.  We've spent the last three years of our family life getting our kids home.  A lot of money, time, and space on my thought plate went into that, but I think we're done.  (Don't pay attention to that virtual asterisk)  So I'm ready to make some space in my life to think about our family as a complete unit--what does that look like?  Where are we going now?  I have so, so not figured that out yet, but I want it to involve less junk in our house, so that seemed like a good place to start. 

Because our house is cluttered, and disordered, and really, my whole life feels like a four-ring circus right now.  I'm not a ring master.  I'm an analytical chemist!  I like order, structure, perfect endpoints in my titrations, and using volumetric glassware to make solutions.  In my dreams, my household runs like a well-tuned instrument (analytical, not musical).  I hold out hope that order will make it easier to parent my children...that I will be a better parent if I can just get my house is in order. 

As I was coming to this realization, a friend posted this link on her Facebook page, and one line spoke to the very heart of the problem with my pursuit of an ordered household:

"I've said it before and I'll keep saying it again and again and again - your "success" as a foster or adoptive parent is not measured by your capacity to keep everything in order; it's determined by your ability to trust that even in the chaos Jesus is beautiful - and even in the mess, so is what you are doing for these kids."

The ringmaster needs a plan if the circus is gonna run at all--but that can't be my end goal.  And it's certainly not how God measures success.  I wish changing my environment would fix all my parenting problems.  It's so much harder to accept that I will become a better parent by worrying less about the order in my house and more about the order of my heart. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Onslaught of Cuteness

I finally downloaded all the pictures on my camera!  My life is still pretty crazy, but it's pretty full of cuteness too, so let's forget about how I feel when I take all four children out of my house at one time and focus on how cute they are instead.

(P.S.  You know you need more books, or you know someone who does:  Usborne Book Party )

My babies

Our "good" family picture

My favorite family picture...I think everyone was about done at this point!

Cheesecake time!

Sometimes I totally see David's side of the family.  

Oh, the anticipation.

Brother and sister, reading together.

Friday, March 25, 2016

To Love and Serve Each Other

When we were talking about post adoption schedules, I asked David not to travel for the first six months after Titus came home.  Sadly, we've gotten a few dry runs in the last few weeks because David has been hit with two illnesses that left him in bed.  Suffice to say I discovered my grasp on functional was tenuous at best.  We have soldiered through and even managed to get most of the places we were supposed to, but it has been rough.  The kids have also been sick off and on, but in some ways, it makes the days easier (Sprite! Bob the Builder! no packing lunch!).  Of course, it doesn't help my stress levels to be wondering if this is the illness that will send us to the emergency room, but with two in-family doctors and a nurse, I tend not to go that far.

Easter has snuck up a little bit on us, but Katie would never let us miss our annual Maundy Thursday traditions.  It was so sweet to see Titus take his first turn at foot washing.  We are looking forward to continuing this tradition for many more years.  (We've learned our lesson--no more bowls!)

David (who was still sick) fell asleep while we were listening to the Upper Room Discourse from John, so we headed back to the bedroom to hang out and ended up doing an impromptu photo session.  I have got to take pictures more often!


Friday, March 4, 2016

Happy Family Day!

Yesterday we celebrated Lizzie's family day.  It's hard to believe it's been two years since this little baby was placed in our arms!

And two years later...she brings a great deal of joy and laughter to our house, and we love her so much!
Her favorite things to play with are her "pigs" and her siblings.  Here she is reciting the Lord's Prayer (and let me tell you, she NEVER talks that quietly at home):

Sunday, February 28, 2016

A Family Update

No, I'm not done with China, but at least I have notes on all of the days left so I don't completely forget them all.

In the meantime, I'm sorely behind on the present days of February.  Although I was glad to get Titus started on his surgeries, the beginning of February is already busy for us.  Someone had a birthday, despite my suggestion that she stop growing so fast.  Luke informed us that he'd also like to have the Super Bowl for his birthday.  We also celebrated Chinese New Year with dragon dancers that same weekend.  We enjoyed a special Valentine's meal with Aunt Susie and Miss Caroline, and then Aunt Katie came to visit too.  And now all of a sudden, February is over.  In no time at all, I think I'll be writing about how the year is over.

We are definitely settling into a routine here, but I still haven't figured out how to fit everything in.  It's hard to balance all the activities while taking care of myself and the house.  And food.  And all the extras that pop up.  And spend some time with David.  As my mom says, everyone has the same amount of time, so I should probably work on figuring out what the priorities need to be and where I can be more efficient.  Now if I could just find some time to do that...

Six years old!

Someone else is growing too fast as well... 

After his morning coffee (just kidding, although some mornings....)

I'm not sure what this face is saying...but he has learned to say "uh-oh!"


Guan xi fa cai!  Happy Year of the Monkey!

Someone is a lot more willing to feed the dragons now.

Yummy breakfast (homemade crepes) with Aunt Katie.

Someone likes reading now!  

Sunday, February 14, 2016

More China Days

We had a great week with many happenings, but I'm heading back to China for a little while.  If I don't finish this soon, I'll forget it all!

Day 9, December 31

I had been looking forward to this sightseeing part since we left China the last time.  Our guide asked us what kind of sightseeing things we'd like to do, since we had already visited once before.  We suggested a few things, but I knew I wanted to visit the Chen Family Academy again.  Before I became a knitter, I enjoyed doing counted cross-stitch, but the embroidery done in Guangdong is some of the most beautiful artwork I've ever seen!  If you want more information, you can read about it here.  I knew I wanted to buy a piece to have at home, so we wandered around the shops at the Academy and finally settled on one that I liked.  I'm going to hang it in my kitchen so I can see it every day.  Of course, I still enjoyed all the other folk art there as well.

We also visited a Buddhist temple with our guide that I found on the list of "things to see in GZ."  Our guide's family is Buddhist, so she was able to share a lot of the traditions and practices represented at the temple.  I was able to share a little bit about our Christian beliefs, and she seemed very curious about it. 

Ivory Carving

Glass etching 

It was actually warm enough to visit the swimming pool this visit, although not nearly inviting enough for me to suit up.  David took Titus in, but he wasn't having much of it either.  We don't know if it was too cold or if he was nervous, but he didn't last very long.  We had dinner in the executive lounge again and called it a night.

This is fun, I think!

Never mind...get me out of here.

That's a little better.

 Day 10, January 1

Happy New Year for us!  We had a free day, so we ventured out onto the subway for the first time.  It was so easy--I wish we'd known about it the first time we visited.  I had done some investigating on GZ tourist sights, so we decided to visit the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.  It was about five blocks from the subway stop, and we basically walked through a sea of red to get there (all in preparation for Chinese New Year).  Of course, when we actually got to the cathedral, the ushers were guarding the door and turning away tourists due to the service inside.  We wandered over to the side, and I guess we looked like English speakers to the usher, because she let us in!  We caught the last 15 minutes of the English mass, and even sang a few songs.  Thankfully these were songs that are etched into my childhood (like As the Deer), so the words were no problem.  It was lovely to ring in the new year surrounded by brothers and sisters. 

Our next stop was the Sun-Yat Sen memorial, but while the grounds and building were beautiful, all of the displays were in Mandarin.  Titus was also getting tired, so we didn't stick around very long. 

We were pretty close to the hotel, so we decided to walk back...or we would have been close if we hadn't taken a wrong turn! We managed to end up at the north side of the park (our hotel was near the south side), so we weren't too far out of the way.  Of course, I will always be grateful for this wrong turn, because on our way home, we walked by this:

The lady was filling dumplings, and although I had no idea what we were getting, I just pointed to the tub and made hand motions to indicate we wanted them to go.  Out. of. this. world. delicious.  Let's just say, we had lunch plans for the rest of our time in GZ.  And I want to go back now and get more.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The End of a Long Week

I was sharing our week with my friend, and at the end, she said she was exhausted just listening to it.  I told her that when I look back on this week, I'm going to try and remember how God answered our prayers so quickly and provided people to help us when we needed them!

Tuesday ended up being much better than I expected.  Thank you so much for your prayers--I know they helped.  Titus was still very tired and a little bit fussy, but we didn't end up using any morphine, and he was able to take in some food and fluids.  Another friend took Katie for the morning (thanks, Leslie!), and Debbie also came by for a little while to help spell me.  I was pretty wiped out as well from my almost sleepless night, so David took the second night shift.  That first day I just felt like Titus was hiding somewhere inside this poor little boy, and it was nice to see some glimpses of his familiar self that second day.

Wednesday morning I ended up taking the kids to see Titus in the morning so David and I could swap, even though I'd managed to share the pink eye I picked up in the hospital with Katie and Luke.  :P  After David left to take the kids home, I got a call from him--I can't find the car, and how do I know if Luke needs stitches?  He fell on his chin.  So David ended up taking Luke (and the other two) to get some glue for his chin!  Thankfully, Titus was doing well enough to put a call in to the surgeon for our discharge.  He did get a bit fussy around 11AM, but after changing an explosively messy diaper (out of respect for you, I will not go into details), he was doing much better.

We were on our way home by 2PM, and then the second half began.  I'm sure a lot of this has been in my head, and thankfully David is much more laid-back about these things, but it's been pretty stressful keeping a super-active youngest of four children in what I consider a "safe zone."  I ended up taking the three older kids out Thursday and Friday morning so Titus could have some hover-free time with David.  :)  We are almost through the first seven days now, which are the most risky according to the nurse.  Basically, I've had a constant video running in my head of all the ways he could split his lip...meaning when he's with me, I was pretty much holding him.

Of course, as I was going through all this, I kept thinking we would be all done with this in six weeks, when the surgeon did the final surgery of this stage.  Haha.  After the surgeon had a chance to really look around Titus's mouth, he's decided to split the second stage into two more surgeries that will be three months apart.  So the next one will be in May, and then the final one for this year will be in August.  At least it'll be warmer!

Let's get this show on the road!

Monday afternoon, during a brief respite.  Poor little baby.

Tuesday evening, playing with Daddy.  I only look a little like a zombie, right?

Time to go home!

At IHOP this morning for Katie's birthday breakfast.