Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Summer 2016

This is my regular summer post where I post that it's been way too long since I last posted, and that it wasn't intentional, but rather just the result of another extremely busy summer! lol!
We once again planted a huge garden and I managed to only have "help" with planting potatoes and no one asked to have their own garden...and I wasn't about to mention it! lol!
We made a point to go to at least a few local parades.  As always the kids love collecting all the candy.  They just finished their stash today! 
Wren was mostly serious during her first parade, but I did manage to get this fantastic smile!

Our favourite part of our local rodeo day was the face painting!  So cool!
  We literally had all 4 faces painted within 10 minutes!
We got a bunch of flowers given to us by my sister who was clearing out her greenhouse, so each of the kids got to make their very own pot!  And we learnt all about the parts of plants and made guesses as to which ones would do well based on how the roots looked.

At the beginning of July, Alex left for a 2 1/2 week missions trip to El Salvador.  He had a blast!  It was an incredible opportunity for him to grow in character and in his spiritual walk.  Hats of to the sending church and in particular, the youth leaders who devoted their time and energy into these youth!  My prayer is that this experience will impact him daily so that he views each day of his life as an opportunity to reach out and love those around him!
While Alex was in El Salvador, we took a spontaneous trip to Drumheller.  We ended up camping, meaning we had to take both vehicles.  It was a LOT less expensive than renting a motel! 
 My favourite place of all was the hoodoos. 

Between Marty and I, Wren even got to climb up a fair distance.  It was doable, but lets just say we sure got a workout!!
And then the next day we took the kids to the splash park and to this giant dinosaur...all because we felt we really needed another workout! Honestly!  It was only a bit over 100 stairs! lol!  Marty and I took turns going up, with Marty doing the majority and I carried Wren on the way down.  It was worth it!
One day we headed to the Bass Pro Shop just cause that's the perfect place for my hunting loving men!
On our last day we went to the Royal Tyrell Museum.  It is a very cool place, but by this time my abscessed tooth (which had been keeping me awake for 2 nights already) was really bothering me.  I broke out in a sweat from the pain! So our time there was cut short.   I ended up making it home a good hour before Marty...lets just say that pain can make for a heavy foot! 

And on our way home we pretended we saw the Eiffel Tower!  lol!  I have no idea why, but for some reason Raina has a fascination with Paris and the Eiffel Tower.  Perhaps we can go there together some day?!?

I ended up getting in with my dentist the next day.  They prescribed antibiotics and referred me to a specialist.  That night was awful!  I literally spent all night vomiting!  I was so sick that Marty convinced the specialist to see me the following morning.  We headed in with the upchuck bucket by my side.  I spent the next few days feeling awful, and it took almost 3 weeks for me to finally be able to eat a full meal.  I'll be sure to keep this in mind the next time I want to loose some extra weight!  Haha!
And somewhere in there the garden produced and the weeds grew.  I managed to harvest the majority, with the boys' help...but the weeds are still having a hayday! 
This is our first and biggest picking of peas.

And the beans...oh my!  Did we pick beans!!  This was our first picking!  We should have picked a week earlier and some were too big.  But I still managed to freeze over 200 cups of beans this year!

Last fall we took our pool down.  We'd had a windstorm that literally tore off our very secure winter cover and it ended up destroying many parts of our pool.  We figured we'd just continue to use it, thinking it was mostly aesthetics.  Then our dog decided she needed a swim.  In her attempt to get out, she shredded the liner!  We managed to patch at least a dozen holes, but it continued to leak all summer.  So we decided to take it down and redo the entire pool.  We then realized the wind storm had done a lot more damage than we had thought.  So we took down the entire pool and got a solid concrete base in place and then proceeded to put the pool up again.  We got a call from our water delivery guy, saying the water would be there the next morning...well, at the point only a few of the supports were up!  Ah!  I called Marty, he rushed home and we spent the entire afternoon and evening setting up the rest of the pool. We finally finished at 10 pm!  The next morning the water arrived.  And when they had about 2 ft of water in the pool, this happened!

I think we both almost cried!  But then we realized it's just stuff!!  It wasn't a tragedy at all!  Just an inconvenience! 
So Marty set to work draining the pool and reinforcing the pool walls...and now...finally...we are enjoying this!!


Sometimes it seems like life is so hard, so many difficult things...and then I head into my garden and gather all kinds of yummy veggies...and even some flowers...and add a glass of wine...and I begin to give thanks and suddenly life seems pretty good!!


Especially when I observe my kids!  Seriously!  Does it get any cuter than Raina pretending to write with a feather on a piece of board?!?


Or Jackson's big grin at being told he can have breakfast on the deck as I enjoy my morning mocha!!

And then this!  He sure knows how to paint the sky in the most spectacular colors!!

 And this past weekend we headed to Watrous for some swimming in their mineral spa with some of my relatives.  Thanks for taking time for us!  We sure did appreciate it!
And in the midst of all this busyness we had a few other relatives stop by.  Thank you!  We sure appreciated your visits and encouragement! 
And last of all...later this week we will be having an exciting first in our family...celebrating Wren's very first birthday as a daughter and sister!!  I can't wait to show you pictures of her special day!  We've decided to do a few more things than normal, but are keeping the event family centered and relatively low key.  Would you do me a favour and join me in wishing Wren a Happy Birthday?  Feel free to leave her a birthday message here, or on fb, or for those of you that have my cell number feel free to text.  I will read all your comments to her on her birthday later this week!  Thanks for helping make her birthday extra special!!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Malia's Bone Graft Surgery

This girl of ours continues to amaze us!  A week before her bone graft surgery, I took her to the doctor for her pre-op appointment.  I broke the news that she had surgery coming up.  First she was mad.  Then she started to cry.  She was upset that we hadn't told her earlier, even though she had requested that we only give her a weeks notice before the surgery.  We ran a few errands and then headed to Tim's for some comfort food. 
It turns out this girl has been doing a lot of thinking, and she is amazingly wise!  So she tells me this..."Mom, the other night I was lying in bed, wondering why people have disabilities.  And then I was wondering why I have this (meaning cleft lip/palate), and I realized that maybe it's so other people can see Jesus through my story!"
Yup!  I choked back the tears and agreed! (Well, maybe the tears didn't choke back so well!) 
So, in sharing these photos...Malia has decided she doesn't care who sees them.

Malia was a champ this time around!  She always gets more and more nervous as she gets closer to being sedated.  I'm learning to speak up more, even in the OR.  It really does help to give suggestions on what works for Malia.  She cried a bit, but was incredibly brave and strong.  She managed to focus on taking deep breathes and squeezing my hand. 
The surgery went very well, although the surgeon is concerned about how well the graft will take around one of her teeth.  So that's something you could pray about when you think of her.
We bought an iPad for the kids for Christmas and it's been such a gift during these hospital stays.  It is one of the few times Malia actually gets to use it!
As usual, the nights spent in the hospital are rough.  The first night was awful!  I don't want to say too much, but we entered the room as two police officers left.  Lets just say the following words were overheard..."teen airlifted, found unconscious and beaten, alcohol poisoning, kit..."  And it all seemed to be "normal" for this gal and her family.  We had all managed to dose off and then were interrupted when a relative came to visit this gal around 10:30 pm!  They thought it was a great idea to visit loudly, eat, and watch a movie till past midnight! 
Malia was exhausted the next day and asked for earplugs and managed to have a decent nap.
Then her Auntie Rita came for a very special visit!  These two are kindred spirits and they love each other well!  We couldn't be more grateful for this special lady!

Day 2
Malia's surgeon and nurses were once again astounded at how well Malia handled her pain, how she managed to drink, and how well she handled everything.  Apparently they never have kids leave after two nights in the hospital...but Malia did!  She's such a trooper!!
Malia was very swollen and bruised.  The bruises were hard to capture on camera.  Her skin tone hides them well.  These photos make the bruising look a lot better than it actually was!
Day 3                                                                 Day 4                
Day 5              

Day 6                                                                      Day 7          


Day 10                  
We did a little math, and so far this year (19 weeks), Malia has been on a liquid diet for about 12 weeks and a soft/mushy food diet for about 2-3 weeks!  That's a restricted diet for 14-15 weeks!  And for the most part, she does not complain!  She did let me know, in no uncertain terms, that blended chicken noodle soup is disgusting!! 
This was Malia's fifth surgery in a little over a year.  We are DONE with surgeries!  But the end is in sight...at least temporally! Malia will have another surgery in about 6 months to release her upper lip.  And then she will have a 5-6 year break!!!  Yah!!! We couldn't be more excited about that!!!





Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day 2016

Today is a bittersweet day.  I miss my mom.  I wish she could meet my youngest four.  I wish I could wish her a "Happy Mother's Day". 
My mother in law is not doing well and was admitted to the hospital a few days ago.  It's so difficult to get in to see her.  The rooms are super small, barely big enough for Wren's chair to pass between the beds.  There's no chair for a loved one to sit at her side.  There are two people that share her room that have a very contagious illness that necessitates care givers to gown up.  I tell my kids not to touch anything, but it still kinda freaks me out at the thought of them contacting this illness.  So today I will continue praying that she literally feels our love, and feels the arms of her Saviour wrapped tightly around her.
And then we had Wren's child dedication in church this morning.  Wren was more than a bit confused about all the fuss, but some day she will understand that she is a gift that God has entrusted to us and that we desire for her to have a relationship with Him, and that we will do our very best to raise and teach her well!

Raising a child takes a village...or in our case a community of believers.  I love this picture!  It hit me square in the chest at what this picture represents.  It represents so much more than our pastor praying for us as parents and praying for our kids.  It really represents the church, or fellow believers walking along side us, praying for us, supporting us, encouraging us.  I am so incredibly grateful for the people that choose to show us in so many ways that they care, that they've got our back.  I may have bawled when I received a very undeserved, but incredibly encouraging text from my brother.  I don't deserve to be honored in my role as a mom.  I fail so very often.  But then, receiving this text...well, it just puts the wind in my sails and makes me all the more determined to be the very best mom I can be!  Thank you...you know who you are!!

Thanks to Nathalie for taking these pictures for us at the drop of a hat!  You have no idea how much we value these pics.
And then there's this crew!  My heart about explodes that I have the privilege of being their mom!  They really are incredible!  And so very handsome and beautiful...inside and out!

And as I often do, especially on this day to honour mothers...I pray for the birth mom of each of my kids.  I pray that somehow she will know her child is safe, is loved, and is happy.  I thank God that she chose life!  I thank God, that somehow in all the possible things that could have stood in the way of us ever meeting...He made a way! A way for me to be their mama!
Happy Mama's Day to all you amazing moms...by birth, by adoption, and those that chose the greatest sacrifice of placing your child into another woman's arms.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Wren April 2016

I think I start every post wondering where the time has gone.  My intentions are to blog consistently, but that simply hasn't been an option these past few months.  I used to think that 6-8 medical appointments a month was nuts.  Now we're up to 10 or 11 a month!  I'm at the point where I actually look forward to appointments because it means I get to spend some one on one time with one or two kids.  And that makes me happy.  It's also a time to relax!  lol!  No running around doing a million things at a time!
Anyhow, I really had meant to post an update on Wren a looong time ago. I've been struggling with knowing what to post, and what not to post.  I really want to be sensitive to Wren and her siblings.  I find the more I blog, the more private I want to become.  But this is not my story.  It's not even entirely Wren's story (don't get me wrong...it IS her story, but if that was all there was to tell, I'd probably keep it quiet.)  It's God's story, and I feel with every fibre of my being that this story needs to be told.
For those of you who have been and continue to be our biggest prayer warriors, I apologize.  I know you have followed this story for a while, and I know you've been anxiously awaiting an update.  Anyhow, here it is.
Wren has been home for 5 months now!  In some ways it feels like a very short time. But mostly it feels like she's been in our family for years.  Most of our kids have settled in to this new normal.  A few still struggle at times. 
It makes me smile every time Jackson affectionately calls Wren, WrenWren.  It makes me smile every time the kids argue about who is going to push Wren's chair or help her out of her chair.  It makes me smile when big brothers help their little sister.  But mostly, this life of ours makes me smile because there is such a peace and joy...even in the stress and chaos!
Wren is doing VERY well!  She loves, loves to be outside!  She especially loves the sandbox.  She loves it when it's cold and windy.
She love it when it's sunny and warm.  She giggled and giggled at the feel of sand between her toes!
Wren had her first Canadian wiener roast and loved it!

She flew her first kite and loved watching it or loved flying the kite herself.
Wren has gained 6 pounds and is up to 56 lbs now.  She measures 4 ft 4 inches.  (Her and Malia are the exact same height.)
We've had a lot of appointments for Wren these past few months and every single one of them has brought good news.  Hopeful news.  We were surprised to hear our orthopedic say Wren shows no signs of scoliosis and that her hips are not dislocated.  She is confident that it's a matter of "when" Wren will walk, not a matter of "if".  I could have jumped for joy at that news!  Of coarse we don't know what that walking will look like.  It may mean walking with a walker.  Or with a cane.  Or knock kneed.  But that's more than fine!  We're just so incredibly excited to do what needs to be done to make those first steps happen!
Wren's hair is slowly growing.  Her hair is getting softer and softer.  When she first arrived home it was very coarse and almost stiff.  We have her on an intense regime of supplements and it is astounding what that has done for her hair, her stomach, and her overall health.  Wren is determined to grow out her bangs.  I'd rather keep the bangs...she looks so grown up without them, and I'm so not ready to have her grow up any faster than it's already happening.
Wren got new AFO's (ankle foot orthopedics).  These are more supportive and more comfortable than the ones she had in China.  They offer a lot of support, and make it much easier for her to bear weight.  And they allow her foot to fit into shoes better.
And Wren has been seeing an OT and PT.  They are both so incredibly amazing!  Wren is practicing standing on the walking stand. I didn't catch in on camera, but she couldn't hold back a great big grin!!

Wren also got to try out a motorized chair.  Her therapists were amazed at how well she did and were convinced Wren must have used one before.  I'm pretty certain she hasn't.  We are waiting to find out whether she will qualify for a motorized chair.

Wren has also been taking riding lessons. Each week she can hardly wait to go riding.  It is one of the most comprehensive therapies available.  It's so very good to build muscle strength, for emotional healing, and for mental health. 
So I accidentally uploaded the wrong video...here's the correct one...the one with Wren.  The one above is of Malia and Raina.  They also LOVE riding!  It is so very, very good for them too!  We have seen many positive changes in our girls that will forever positively impact their lives.
I am continually amazed at how well Wren is doing!  I've read a lot of books, listened to a lot of videos, and spoken to many parents and professionals with experience in adoption and trauma...and this girl is simply amazing!  I am convinced, that for some reason, her young heart has been protected.  She is so very open to love, to family...to us and our chaos, emotions, and short comings.  That is nothing short of a miracle!  I can not wait to see how God uses this girl for His kingdom!
The rest of this week and next week are filled with appointments, so I will be too busy to blog...at least that's what I'm setting my mind to.  That way if I happen to get around to it, it's a bonus!  lol!
Anyhow, I hope you all have a great week...and if you happen to think of us, say a little prayer as we navigate an unusually busy week.   Thanks so much!




Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter 2016

It's been way too long since I last posted, but as is our "normal", life happened and things got really busy.  We had ten days of kids with high fevers.  It was the first time in all my 16 years of parenting that a fever actually really made me panic!  Raina had a fever of 103, and even after having Tylenol, it continued to rise.  We added Ibuprofen and a cool sponge bath and finally managed to bring it under control.
I've been meaning to post an update on Wren, but that will have to wait for now. It's a post that will take a lot more time and thought. So, first I will share a bit about our Easter.
We had a tea party using Wren's tea set from China.  The kids dressed up in their finest silks and the girls insisted on having their hair up in a bun! 

We made devilled eggs that had been soaked in colored water for a few minutes.  They honestly tasted a lot better than the usual devilled eggs!  ;)  And we sipped on Pink Lady tea!
The kids had a blast and are begging for another tea party!

We did some crafts as well.  I found some super cool plastic eggs at Walm*rt that were perfect for painting...lets just say no eating boiled eggs for days and no fragile hollow eggs!
(don't you love my craft table cloth?!?  lol!  It's an old plastic Christmas table cloth that works perfectly for those paint and water spills!  Once it's too dirty to clean, or too ripped, it will go into the garbage!  And I'll buy another cheap dollar store table cloth!)

I even managed to convince the men to join us!  We had so much fun!!

I had to take a close up of Wren's little egg chick!  Isn't it the sweetest chick ever!?!?  This girl has some serious artistic talent!!
The kids had their usual Easter Basket hunt...in their pjs cause they received their Easter outfits in their baskets..well the youngest four did!  Haha!  
The youngest kids got the Berenstain Bear "Living Lights" books (except for Malia cause she's loving her chapter books!)  I LOVE them!  The stories all tie into scripture verses and teach a lesson or morale!  That makes this mama happy!

This was Wren's first Easter at home and she didn't hesitate to get in the thick of the Easter Egg hunt!

My three precious girls!  I LOVE saying that!!  I never dreamt I'd have three beautiful girls!  And saying it over and over simply doesn't get old!!
They were tickled to have the same dresses!  They did have matching tattoos as well, but Wren worked hard to wash hers off...not sure why.
I had hoped to get a picture of the boys, but they were "busy"!  Ha!...next time!!
We also did these cool and simple paintings.

And we made these string eggs....well, I basically made them!  They were way too difficult for the little kids!

And at the end of the weekend, we couldn't help but look at all we have been given, and with grateful hearts we treasured all of this...our kids, our time together...and the wonderful gift of Christ's resurrection and gift of eternal salvation!