Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Memorial Day

I'd love to be able to say that for Memorial Day, we were sitting on a beautiful lake taking in the wonders of Mother Nature, but I can't.


We were working on the house.

This was my workstation

However, not everyone gave 100%.........

And sometimes, our work crew would sneak away for a TV break....

However, we did get alot of work done, and also did manage to sneak in smores after dinner.  It was Quinn's first time trying to eat them.  She loves to pull her snacks apart and eat them a piece at a time.  Smores went from being a snack to being a sticky adventure.

Here she is signing "more"- the girl knows how to get what she wants :-)  Finally had to cut her off, or she would've been in a diabetic coma...

Hope you all had a memorable Memorial Day Weekend!!

(And next year, hopefully you will find me sitting at a lake...any lake.) 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

An Adoption Celebration

On Wednesday, we got to celebrate a very special day with some very special people.

Their adoption was finalized, and this sweet girl is now in her Forever Family.

It's amazing how God can orchestrate people and events to work through a plan that is perfect.

We are so thrilled for our friends and their new daughter! 

Of course, Quinn is an old pro at adoption ceremonies. :-) 

James 1:27“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

Friday, May 25, 2012

Homeschooling when you don't wanna~

May is always a tough month for us when it comes to homeschooling.

 The weather beckons us outside, the spring to-do list is as long as my arm, and we are kinda anxious to be d.o.n.e.

So instead of doing actual science curriculum this time of  year, we just encourage alot of outside time with Mother Nature.

This little bird had fallen in a bucket of water and was shaking from the cold, so the girls rescued it dried it with the blowdryer, and put it in their butterfly house.  It recovered by the next day, and they were able to let it go.  For a whole day, our kitchen sounded like an aviary  :-)

 Camille found this toad while doing chores, so she set up a fish bowel for him and named him Whopper Hopper.  He now resides on the table in our kitchen.

 Camille giving the little ones a lesson about taking care of toads.

We found this huge dragonfly outside- it was already dead, but that makes it easier to look at all it's parts.

We finished a year on Anatomy, Health, and a unit on Our Changing Bodies. Our last unit is on Survival skills, which we plan on doing this summer.  Bri is really excited about this unit, especially since she read The Hunger Games series. ( She also wants to learn archery-go figure!)

Science is one of my favorite subjects, and summer on the farm gives us so many opportunities to learn.  Each day the kids have their livestock chores and they all help with certain garden tasks, so we've got animal science and horticulture covered.

Then there's the dead animals that Axle drags up to the yard that we get to inspect and sometimes take apart-fascinating but smelly.  Makes us feel like paleontologists  :-)

I don't know if our spring science units will help us with the Stanford tests, but it sure seems to inspire our kids to enjoy learning~


Monday, May 21, 2012

I wanna be like Gladys Aylward

"A life not lived for others is not a life." Mother Teresa

With May being National Foster Care Month, I wasn't surprised that the topic of our forum at Katelyn's Fund this month was Foster Care.  However, I was surprised when I was asked to be on the panel for that evenings meeting. 

There were 5 of us on the panel, and after introducing ourselves, we launched into our impromptu explanations on how we came to be involved in foster care, what led us to consider it, some interesting experiences we've had, and how we were currently involved in the system.

The stories differed with each situation, however the motivation was very similar- wanting to help out children who needed us.  I was surprised as I listened to each of the other presenters' stories that it occured to me how much foster care is it's own mission, with the foster parents as missionaries, reaching out to the "unreached" population right here in our own home towns. Yes, the cities that these children come from are modern day jungles and we are the David Livingstons of our time- a mild exaggeration maybe?!

Each of the panel members have a strong sense that their faith was an important part of our reason for working with these "orphans", and we use our faith to reach out to these children. The kids that come through our doors to stay with us are taken to church and introduced to Jesus through our actions.  This makes us very much like missionaries.  First, we meet their basic needs, live among them and learn the language, then we begin to address their spiritual needs.


Upon this realization, the foster care work that we do is taking on a whole new meaning for me.  It has always been grounded in the belief that the Bible tells us to take care of the orphans. However, this new outlook has me almost giddy (!) with the feeling that I'm rubbing shoulders with some of my heroes; Eric Liddell, Mary Slessor, and of course my favorite- Gladys Aylward. 

I like to use props when giving a speech, so I put together a photo booklet of the kids who have been with us; we have had 18 long term placements, and over 20 respite placements.  We currently only have one little boy with us, but he has begun the transition to moving to a relative placement, so we know we will be again "open" for more kids.  While we have been working on the basement, and it's addition of more bedrooms, I have had a feeling of expectation that I can't quite explain.  As if I'm expecting company, and I need to get my home ready for guests. 

I'm always praying that we will have kids placed with us that we will be able to adopt, but our state is very forgiving of birth parents, so that doesn't happen often. I guess I need to remove my "wants" from the equation and just continue to open up our home to these kids, share our faith with them while they are with us (along with sharing toys, food, and lap time) and pray for each one as they go out into the world.

And add "Missionary" to my resume.   :-)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Visit #2 to the Castle

 Thursday, we were headed back to the Children's Hospital for Quinn's MRI, which is being requested by the pediatric neurologist that will be doing her surgery this summer.  The nursing staff at Sanford is so good with kids, and they go to great lengths to avoid any pain or discomfort for them.  Quinn was cheerful and agreeable about everything that day, even when she had to have an IV.  They put a lotion on her IV sites that had to sit 45 minutes before inserting the IV, and I don't think she even felt it go in.

Loopy Lucy got very groggy as the medicine kicked in, but I was so touched that she turned to me with such trust, as if we had known each other forever.  She kept holding my hand during the procedures-how sweet is that?

She slept through the brain and spine MRI and did great- we should get a report on their findings on Monday.  We are praying that everything will be perfect, but of course, if it's not, that is fine as well.  She is doing so well already at this point, and no matter what challenges are in her future, we will be there to face them with her.

 She will never be alone again- that's the beauty of adoption.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Frugal Friday

When you concentrate on agriculture and industry and are frugal in expenditures, Heaven cannot impoverish your state.  ~Xun Zi

Don't you love consignment stores?

Got 3 pairs of barely worn shoes for a whopping total of $14.00!

And I still had enough birthday money left over to get 4 pairs of shorts and some PJs.

Can I get a whoop whoop?!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Different view of Mother's Day

I read this article today, and it brought me back to our earlier days with Camille. 

She walked into our home at 20 months of age, surveyed the area, and then turned and looked at me as if I was the new zookeeper and she was animal on exhibit.  It got worse before it got better.

Camille had almost all of the "symptoms" on the RAD checklist, with the exception of starting fires.  Then again....she wasn't quite yet 2 years old. And I kept the matches above her reach.  (HA!)

Thankfully, I can say that she and I have been through the battle, and have hopefully come out on the other side, committed to loving each other whether we like it or not.

And I have to give her credit for putting up with me and the learning curve which comes with parenting an attachment challenged child.  Because even though I KNEW how I should respond when she threw her RAD behaviors at me, follow through often went out the window, along with my patience. 

Many days I lost my temper and thought I would lose my mind.  There are occasional days when I still feel that way.  But the good news is, those days are fewer and further apart, and we are both learning better ways of dealing with the behaviors that come with this label.

Thank you, Lisa Barry, for your insight on a tough subject, done with compassion, honesty, and in a way that gives us mommys hope.

Friday, May 11, 2012

My Main Squeeze

Happy Birthday to my sweet Babboo...

Incredible husband....

Awesome father....

And my absolute best friend. 

 Love you, honey!  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Our princess visited the Castle

The day finally came that I had been half dreading and half anticipating- Quinn's initial evaluation at the Spina Bifida clinic at the Sanford Childrens Hospital, or The Castle, as it is called.

Quinn in front of the statue and fountain at the Children's Hospital

Since we began the process for a special needs adoption, we had been researching the challenges of various disabilities so that we could be prepared by having the resources available for our new daughter, and also by being emotionally ready to handle the challenges that came with that disability.

Spina Bifida often scares people, but after raising a child that has physical AND developmental disabilities, low IQ plus autism thrown in for good measure, the challenges of a physical-only disability didn't seem as daunting to us. We knew there could be mobility issues and bowel and bladder functioning issues, but that most SB kids have normal intelligence and could function well as adults without alot of help from us.  As older adoptive parents, that was a concern and something we had to consider as well.

At the Castle, we met with various teams at the hospital, including urine and bowel management, orthopedic and mobility, nutrition and dietary, OT, PT, and speech therapy, and a coordinating doctor that specializes in special needs children, who orchestrates all of the necessary follow up and puts together the team's approach for what Quinn will need to have done. 

The doctors were all wonderful and so very impressed with Quinn! She was a rock star and more than impressed them all- they couldn't say enough wonderful things about her.  To think that she left in an orphanage less than 4 months ago, and was doing so well physically (gained 10 lbs and grew 2 inches in height) and emotionally really surprised them. They had expected her to be more withdrawn and not as friendly and receptive to them as she was.   And frankly, it surprises me almost every day!   Her ability with receptive language is already amazing- she tested in the 24-36 mo range when tested by the OT and speech therapists, stacked blocks, and picked out the correct shapes, colors, and pictures when asked. She even taught one of the doctors the sign for "more" when she used it to ask for more juice.

I'm guessing that if I was dropped in China for 4 months that my receptive language abilities for Chinese wouldn't be half this good.

I'm not exaggerating when I say that no less than 2 of the staff that we met with that day are now contemplating adopting from China after meeting Quinn.  I know that I spoke with the OT therapist for at least 15 minutes answering questions about the SN adoption program in China, and she said now that she has met Quinn, she's not afraid to do it!  Yah God for planning that meeting and yah Quinn for being so adorable!!

Waiting for our next team of doctors to arrive

I won't bore you with alot of medical details about the day, but the bottom line is that she is doing SO MUCH BETTER than we had expected, and for her sake, we are thrilled.

She will be having a urodynamics test, which tests the ability of the bladder to work correctly, and she will have an MRI later this month.  Then those results will be used when she travels to Mpls to have her surgery sometime this summer for her meningocele, which is the fatty lump on her lower spine.  This surgery is done with lasers and is very delicate, so as not to damage any of the spine or the nerves that function in that area.

"Done for the day- whew!"

And did I mention that she was a trooper all day?  Not one bit of fussing throughout the xrays, ultrasound,  poking and prodding, and being kept up WAY past her naptime. 

Yes, this girl is amazing.  But then it didn't take someone with a medical degree to tell us that :-) 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Busy week~

Spring gets so busy, with farm work, wrapping up homeschool,  celebrations like graduations, Mothers Day, several family birthdays, and Luke's confirmation- throw in having to refinish a basement and cleaning and repairing on our rental house, and we are exhausted from all the juggling.

Tried to find a juggler that wasn't smiling, but no luck!

So when the weather man said there would be storms later in the afternoon..

And the weather was glorious outside....

We decided to Carpe Diem...

Have a wagon ride...

Play in the dirt
I went out and spent some time in the garden..

Bri went out and worked with her horse.

We all needed a little time away from the crazy work schedule, if even for a few hours, then the rains came so it was back to the grindstone. (uffda)

On a sidenote- it's been interesting to watch Quinn adapt to the great outdoors after spending 2 years cooped up in an orphanage.  At first, even walking on grass seemed to challenge her, and now I no longer have to carry her across the lawn.  She is dipping her hands into sand now, tolerating our overly friendly dogs more, and is fascinated by butterflies.  I can't even imagine how much her little sensory world has been stimulated ever since coming home, but it definitely agrees with her.  She is one happy little kid.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

My daughter freaks me out.

Ever since Bri was little, she has had very little fear of animals.  When she was 4 years old, she found a nest of baby mice in the barn and brought one of the babies up to the house to show me, all cupped up in her sweet little hands. 

"Awesome, Honey". 

When she was 5 years old, she was run over by one of our horses and ended up with bruises on her face where a hoof hit her.  It hasn't stopped her from loving horses.

Just last week, she caught a crawdad in the creek, and had it for a "pet" for a few days before letting it go.

The final straw for this momma was what she brought home yesterday.....

EEWWW!!!  The final insult was that she wouldn't let me kill it with a shovel!

I think she has the makings of a future zoo keeper. :-)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012