Archive for May, 2012

  • Gracie Update

    Date: 2012.05.30 | Category: Grace

    Today was her last dose of  i.v. chemo.  The doctors say she is in partial remission.  Her kidneys are doing much better, but her lupus is still not completely controlled.  Her complements are still not normal, although they are close, and she is anemic again.  They wanted her in remission before changing her to the oral chemo but decided that because her lupus was such a severe case that she will likely relapse and need cytoxan again.  You can only have so many doses in a lifetime so they want to save some for the next time.  She will most likely be on cellcept for 5 years after the date they declare her in remission. That seems daunting.  Sometimes it seems overwhelming.  I’m so very happy that there are treatments available for this.  If you read about this back in the 1950’s, the survival rate was 0.  I am so happy that there are treatments.  I am happy to have my little girl.   She is an unbelievably special girl in so many ways – her faith being one of the biggest ways.  I am blessed.

    I thought I’d share my Hats For Gracie post….. (For those of you who aren’t friends with me on Facebook.)

    This is a little embarrassing but I thought I’d share that life is all about perspective. Everything is how you look at it. You’d think I’d have it down pat by now, but I still need reminders every once and a while.  Yesterday we received another bill for Gracie’s care, another $1,982 bill to be exact and I complained. Mainly, I complained because you can’t tell what you’ve already paid or what it’s for. They just ask for the money and make it due in 3 weeks. I then realized Grace was in the room. Later I decided I should say something to her because I didn’t want her to feel bad about the bill. I told her that I wasn’t mad about the bill so she shouldn’t worry about anything. She told me “I think $2,000 is a small price to pay for my health and my life.” Truer words have never been spoken. Perspective. I think I’ll get me some. 🙂

    Previous Day’s Hats For Gracie post….

    Last night as I was tucking Gracie in she told me that she didn’t like having to wait until the sun went down to swim, that she was really kind of tired of medicine and she wasn’t happy that she would need another pulse of steroids on Wednesday with her chemo. She told me that she didn’t think lupus was very nice. She also said she understood that God is perfect and His plan is perfect so He must have some reason for all this so she would try her best to be happy. She said, “Sometimes happy takes work but it’s worth it.” Good advice from a 7 year old so I thought I’d share.


  • Cassandra Lynne

    Date: 2012.05.29 | Category: Cassie

    A post for the most beautiful baby ever….

    Who just happened to turn into one of the prettiest girls I know.  If that was all I could say about you, I’d be disappointed.  But you are a wonderful, kind, funny, compassionate, tenderhearted and sweet young lady.  You have chosen to be the guardian of your siblings should anything happen to your dad and I.  Anyone who knows our family knows that is no small undertaking.  You aren’t concerned with many of the things other 20 year olds are.  You have a firm foundation in God and His doctrines.  You know what is really important and I love that about you.   You are able to laugh at the simplest of things and you don’t take things for granted.  You are truly a remarkable young lady and I am so blessed to be your mama.

    Happy Birthday Boo!

  • Trust

    Date: 2012.05.25 | Category: Adoption

    A few weeks ago we were presented with a little girl that had many, many health issues.  The physical disabilities I could handle.  The many hospital admissions, I couldn’t.  We always stay with our kids while they are in the hospital.  I just couldn’t do that with our two new little ones. Dan and I prayed and prayed about her and knew that she needed a home where she could have a lot of one on one care.  A home that was quiet and our house was way too busy to meet her needs.  It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, to turn down a child.  Dan told me that we just had to trust that God had her family out there.  With Benjamin and Maisey, I knew right from the start that I was supposed to be their mama.  I didn’t feel that with this little girl.  It is still hard because any family has to be better than no family.  I decided to trust in the Lord’s plan and turn it over to Him. Tonight we learned that the little girl has found her forever family.  I cried tears of joy. I’m just so happy and God is so good!

    I must admit that I decided to go along with it and if she didn’t find a family and cycled through the agency again, then I would see what I could do.  Why I do this I don’t know.  Why I drag my feet after He has showed me time and time again His plan is always right, is anyone’s guess.   I am turning it over faster and faster so I am making progress, but boy is it hard to say, “I don’t think I can do this!”  I don’t like to admit that I couldn’t give this baby the time she deserved.  I want to be able to do it all. It is very humbling to have to say “No” when you know what has been presented to you is not from God.  It’s hard to just sit back, do nothing, and trust.  As always God is good and He knew who her family should be.  I am so, so happy.  I love that there are so many families who will take these very sick kids and give them a chance to be loved.  Everyone deserves to be loved.  I will continue to pray for this family.  They have a long road ahead of them, but her life is about to get a whole lot better.  Praise God for that.


  • Maisey Meilyn

    Date: 2012.05.22 | Category: Maisey

    The mission statement from the House of Hope that took care of Maisey.
    “To comfort always, to relieve often, and to save sometimes.”
    Have I mentioned how blessed I feel to be able to love this little girl?

  • People…

    Date: 2012.05.14 | Category: Adoption, Benjamin, Maisey

    So if you read my previous post, please disregard.  It was a hoax.  People have been posting on this Warrior Eli Facebook page for years and it was all a hoax.  What could you possibly get out of that?  This world and the people in it are so confusing sometimes.  On that note, we will go to something much dearer to my heart.

    It has been 2 months since we have gotten our little people.  Life is definitely busier and everyone is figuring out there place in the family, with much more ease than I thought possible.  Cassie has stepped up to help out where ever she can.  Her oatmeal at night routine is nice (except when Maisey decides to use it as a exfoliant).  Zach is definitely the wonderful big brother as can be found by the pink car he bought Maisey.  Hope & Grace are the best big sisters.  Right at this moment, Gracie is teaching Maisey how to properly bundle her Maisey doll and feed her a bottle.  It’s pretty darn cute.

    In two months, Benjamin & Maisey have found their place.  They are happy-go-lucky little kids.  They laugh all the time.  They are exploring everything.  I love how God brought us children so like our other children.  Benjamin is quiet and curious and loves to build  and play video games – just like Zachary.  Maisey is all compassion and loving up on her babies and reading – just like her sisters.   It’s very sweet watching them all play.  They don’t hoard food.  Benjamin does cry when we pass a KFC (so like his daddy).  He loves KFC.  Really any type of chicken.   We have pretty much given him any kind of chicken he wants each and every day to help him grow.  It’s like Hopey all over again.  We had to add cream and butter to everything she ate to try and help her grow.  Maisey is a different story she will try anything and everything.  If she doesn’t like it, she will wait until you aren’t looking and throw it to the dogs, but she will at least try it.

    Maisey wakes up laughing and giggling, ready to take on the day.  I love that she will probably not remember any of the orphanage.  I pray that she won’t. I’m afraid it won’t be that easy with Benjamin.  He still has moments of post-traumatic stress like behavior.  Sometimes something little will trigger him and his eyes just glaze over and he sobs.  It doesn’t happen very often, but it breaks my heart every time it does happen.  Once he wet through his diaper and it went through his little jeans, he hid from me in the corner and just hung his little head.  We had to tell him over and over again that it was okay.  That accidents happen.  It happened when he spilled his drink too.  He was so afraid.  I’m not sure how much trouble he got in the orphanage, but I don’t think accidents were handled with grace that’s for sure.

    It seems like they have been here forever.  People ask me if I worry that they are delayed.  Worldly things and goals aren’t really all that important.  You help your child find their purpose in life and lead them the best you can.  The best thing you can do is give them a good foundation in doctrine so that when life gets tough they turn to the Lord.  In reality, what I want most is to lead them to Christ and build their faith.  Then I want them to figure out their purpose, why God has them here, and help them achieve that purpose.  The rest is just icing.  They will learn their multiplication tables.  They will figure out the states and capitals.  If it takes them a little longer than others, it doesn’t matter.  That is why I love homeschooling.  No one judges them on other people’s standards.  They are allowed to grow in their own time.

    Mother’s Day was wonderful and relaxing.  Cassie watched little ones all day.  People treated me to all my favorites.  Dan got extra bonus points for the best Mother’s Day presents ever….two little ones.  Wonder what next year will bring?

  • Loving life

    Date: 2012.05.11 | Category: Family Life

    I was thinking about how serious my blogs are most of the time.  I was wishing I was wittier and more light-hearted.  In reality,  I love to laugh.  I love to spend time making up musicals with my kids, they sing about everything even toast.  I love the life that I am blessed to be able to live.  So today I will post about what I’m grateful for and add a couple silly pictures just for fun.

    I love my husband with my whole heart.  I truly am blessed to be able to go through everything with him.  He makes the bad times easier to handle.  His is the witty one.  He is the one who makes me laugh all the time.  His one liners crack me up.  We often joke about his comedy routine that he will do when he retires.  It’s funny to me because most people think he is so serious.  The Dan I know and love is humor and love and affection.  I’m a blessed girl.

    You all know how I feel about those kids of mine.  I love home-schooling them because I get to spend so much time with them.  I love that I can look at their face and instantly know how they are feeling.  I love that we talk about everything and I do mean everything.  I know they don’t tell me every thought they have.  I know that sometimes it takes them time to come to me, but I also know they will come to me in their own time.  I know that they know no matter what I will love them.  I know that they are secure in their importance in my life.  I know that they know when they walk in a room it brightens my day.  I love that my opinion matters to them.  I love to hear them quote the quotes I love.  Gracie’s Code 1090 was proof of that.

    I’m blessed with a wonderful extended family.  My mom and my mother-in-law are two of my best friends.  I have grandparents that are still around.  In fact, they celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary yesterday, that deserves a shout out for sure!  Brothers and sister-in-laws and nieces and nephews.  Family is wonderful!  I love Facebook because you get to see into the lives of people you aren’t lucky enough to visit with very often.  Life is good!

    Happy Friday everyone!    Remember….  Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.   (Grace’s Code 1090)

    Hope the Gangster

    Yes, he is a ninja in a cozy coupe with a cell phone.

    Just 1 of the 1,000 goofy faces she makes.

    Wonder baby!

    Mommy trying on a "Hats for Gracie" hat.

    New towels from Elizabeth!

    Benji in the middle!

  • Seriously….why?

    Date: 2012.05.08 | Category: Adoption

    Dan sent me a blog that he recently read in regard to one of my new favorite organizations, Love Without Boundaries. I’ll attach it at the end of my blog so you can read it too if you want.  It made me stop and think about so many things.  I’ve been reading a couple different adoption agency blogs and those blogs contain the saddest stories of these babies just existing in orphanages.  One estimate has the total number of orphans at 163 million, it also states that there are 2.4 billion Christians.  That is approximately one orphan for every 15 Christians.  We have been commanded to care for the least of these. Why aren’t we doing that?  “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’  Matthew 25:45 (NIV)

    One blog I read talked of a little girl with hydrocephalus that couldn’t get a shunt. I’ve seen the pain caused by not having a shunt. Codey has tapped his head repeatedly and signed please to get on a gurney to get his shunt fixed.  If you know how much Codey hates hospitals and stretchers, you’d understand that he was truly in pain.  I’ve held him why he screamed out in pain. I can’t stand that babies are just languishing in pain.  I read another blog that talked of a little boy who is 6 who weighs 18 pounds because the orphanage malnourishes the children so they are easier to handle.  This same orphanage had 11 children die this past year and 30 more were hospitalized severely malnourished. Why is this happening?  I sometimes want to not read these blogs and pretend I don’t know what is going on because what can I possibly do about it?  It just breaks my heart and my home isn’t big enough for all of them – but oh how I wish it was.

    I know adoption isn’t for everyone.  I know that it is expensive.  It drives me crazy that it costs tens of thousands of dollars to take in a child that is abandoned.  Why? Why? Why?  How do we change it?  What difference can we make?  I want to be that squeaky wheel that gets something done. There are so many options though.  You can sponsor a baby in an orphanage.  You can help pay for a surgery or a portion of a surgery.  You can help someone else who is adopting by donating to the cause.

    I look at how happy our kids are.  They have serious health issues but they are truly a joy.  They are an amazing addition to our family.  I can’t even begin to explain to you how happy they have made me.  Will there be tears in the future?  I’m sure there will be.  Will there be trials?  Well, especially with Benjamin I’m sure my heart will break, but loving him has been so worth it and it’s only been 2 months.  2 short months and my heart is his. Yesterday, he just sat and chanted Mama.  He sat on my lap and touched my face so softly over and over again.  He is just so happy and so loving and I am so unbelievably blessed.  And Maisey….well, Maisey is joy – she’s all funny faces and laughter and just plain joy!

    Dan and I both know that God is calling us to do something about this.  I wish I could ask God to just send me a memo outlining what I should do and who I should talk to.  My writing this blog doesn’t really help because I know all of you know how I feel.  I know that if you could help you would.   I just need to get it down in writing.  This is my way of venting I guess and a good place to put those stories in writing so I remember.

    Please keep praying for those babies around the world.  Wonderful people step forward all the time to take in the least of these.  I read about it on those same blogs every day.  There are amazing people out there with great big hearts.  Pray for their families and those sweet little kids.  Thanks guys!

  • Hit by a bike and other fun things that happened in China.

    Date: 2012.05.02 | Category: Adoption, Family Life

    We headed out from Des Moines on March 7th, 2012.  Dan and I were excited to finally be heading to China.  We had waited a year to get to hold our little ones and it seemed so much harder to wait the closer we got.  We would be arriving in Beijing on the 8th.  I couldn’t believe we were actually going to do it.  We were traveling internationally for the first time.  I was so happy to be on this journey with my best friend.  I love that our hearts were in exactly the same place with all of this. Our lives were about to change in a really big way.

    When we got to China we had a couple of days to acclimate and do some sightseeing.  Acclimating really wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be.  Being out in the daylight and having plans made it a little easier or maybe it was I was just too excited to sleep.

    Beijing was just SO big. They have 20 million people and 10 million more people come in to town to work. I think Iowa has 3 million people all together and our 5 big skyscrapers in our downtown are really quite tame compared to the miles and miles of skyscrapers in Beijing and every other town we visited.  I’m a small town girl that’s for sure.  It was just overwhelming – the noise, the pollution, the traffic, the massive amounts of people.

    One of my favorite things that we did on our tour was a ride in the rickshaw. There was a street lined with rickshaws and people waiting to peddle you around.  Hundreds of rickshaws.  We went down streets that were barely wide enough to have a car go down them. We got to see how people used to live in the villages. The government is building many more modern buildings and the young are moving to those buildings, but there are still blocks of small one story buildings where people live with no indoor plumbing. They use public bathrooms and cook in a community kitchen.  The elderly like it because it is all they have ever known and it’s like one big family.

    We got to visit one of those homes where a 77 year old woman lived. We sat in her room, which was 20×20 maybe, and she told us her life story – as translated by our guide. She had raised 3 children in this home with no indoor plumbing. She had chosen to marry for love and married beneath her status. She turned down 7 suitors and gave up a much more well-off life for a life of happiness and love. While looking around her room, I noticed many crosses and other Christian items. It turns out she was Catholic. In a country where 30 years ago it was illegal to own a Bible, I was in a room with a woman of faith.  It was amazing.  We later learned that China is behind only the United States for the number of Christians the country has.  They estimate as high as 100 million people in China are Christian.  That is amazing!

    Our next great adventure was the Great Wall and the Forbidden City.  The Great Wall was amazing and so hard to climb.  It is one thing to climb a gazillion stairs.  It is another thing completely to climb uneven stairs at different heights while others are running around you.  There were tons of people going up to the first tower, then less and less people the higher you climbed. I climbed to tower number 4.  I was fine until I turned around to go back down.  My fear of heights kicked in.  I looked at the stairs a lot.  It was probably a good thing because it was so uneven.  I was so fearful of tripping and taking out about 50 people on the way back down.  Not good!  Dan bought a lock so we could put our lock on the railing of the Great Wall and throw away the key.  It is supposed to symbolize a marriage that can’t be broken.  I do love that man!

    The Forbidden City was unbelievably BIG!  Our guide told us how one family lived here.  I can’t imagine being a peasant during that time and seeing the opulence or having your daughter chosen as a concubine and spending her life there for only the emperor.  Have I mentioned that I thoroughly enjoy being born in this country and at this time in history?  Though seeing the Forbidden City was an amazing site and one that was truly hard to comprehend.  It is just mind-blowing to think of the manpower needed to lay those bricks and build the walls – 600 years ago. Putting your hands on history is amazing.

    We visited a silk factory. We watched them stretch out a cocoon (the size of a salt pellet) over a metal frame.  Then they take it and stretch it out across a bed to be put into a bedspread.  I actually got to help pull the corner out on one.  We also visited a Jade factory where Dan and I bought a “Jade Family Ball”.  I loved what it stood for (it means family that can not be torn apart) and we decided to buy one of the smaller ones to remember our wonderful trip.    There is a you-tube video if you are interested in seeing them make one.  We went to an acrobatic show.  We also saw the “bird’s nest” at the Olympic Park.

    Have I mentioned that many, many people bike?  There are regular bikes and motorized bikes and bikes that carry everything on big carts behind them and bikes with big baskets.  I stepped out from around a bus only to be hit by one of those basket carrying bikes.  Dan jokes that I almost ended up in that basket.  The Chinese gentlemen was not amused by the clumsy American woman who appeared out of no where.

    Everywhere you go there are signs for public toilets.  It’s an interesting site.  Almost as interesting as the “split” pants the babies wear.  Everywhere you go you see little ones in big bulky snow suits with the crotch open and little bare butts.  The children walk over and just pee in the gutter or on a tree or on someone’s tire.  The snowsuits are crazy.  When we got Maisey I couldn’t tell how big she was because she had on two pairs of snowpants, a snowsuit and 2 coats.  It was 50 degrees outside.  We went to get some papers signed one day and I put her in a coat, long pants and her boots.  It was 70 degrees outside and I got lectured by the elderly ladies about not bundling her up enough.  They believe it’s good for babies to sweat and apparently it is good to have a cold, little tushy too.

    Shopping was crazy.  When we got to Zhengzhou, we were informed that there was a Wal-Mart. Everyone was so excited.  Ha! It wasn’t like any other Wal-Mart I have ever seen.  We went up an escalator and were greeted by hanging gutted pigs, chickens hanging by their necks, and eels.  It was crazy.  It was much like a fresh food market.  While we were shopping we ended up in the formula aisle, where every other parent in our group was trying to figure out what kind of formula to buy.  Nothing was in English and we were all clueless.  I bet whoever was manning the video surveillance that night was getting a good laugh.  We looked ridiculous.  Dan and I tried to buy bananas and they took them from us all while shaking their heads sadly.  We finally figured out it was because we were the not-so-very-smart Americans and we didn’t put our bananas in a bag.  It happened to another family and the clerk brought them a plastic bag.  We, however, just got our bananas taken away. The Chinese buy very little at a time.  You couldn’t tell which line was express because no one bought more than they could carry home or take with them on their bikes. Dan and I commented many times about how many people live there but no one is really over weight.  Many people walk or bike.  The old buildings don’t have elevators.  They eat salad even at breakfast.  There is juice, fruit, and vegetables every where.  One of the families, that were very adventurous, walked around and ate from street vendors.  There was scorpions on a stick, tarantulas on a stick, eel on a stick.  I asked his daughter what she tried and she said strawberries on a stick.  I think I might have been able to handle that one.

    The best part about making it to Zhengzhou?  We got to finally get our little ones.  Gotcha Day was a big day for everyone!  We all waited at the Registration Office for them to show up.  They were coming from many different orphanages, some as far as 4 hours away, so we all just stood there in the room and cried as we watched families be united for the first time. Maisey came first and I just picked her up and held her.  Then we waited and waited for Ben.  Dan went to the door and grabbed his little boy.  Our family was whole.

    The worst part about China for me?  There were cars everywhere.  People pull in and out.  They drive 5 across on a 3 lane road.  They play chicken with each other.  You can be driving down the interstate with 3 lanes and all of a sudden 2 are just closed or better yet you come up over a hill and there is one of those motorized bikes carrying a hug bale of hay going right down the middle of the highway at about 15 mph.  People swerve in and out – no one wears seatbelts – no one has a infant/child safety seats.  You just hold on for dear life and PRAY…a lot!  People don’t pay attention to stop signs.  Our bus driver did a U-turn in the middle of downtown.  It was impressive.  When we headed to Hong Kong I texted Zach because our driver was doing over 145 kmh & I couldn’t get Google to do the conversion for me.  I like being safe.  I’m happy not going over 75 here.  China was a little hard on my nerves.  Amazingly though we saw very few accidents.  I don’t believe anyone is doing distracted driving in China.

    The best part about China other than getting our little ones?  We met 12 other wonderful families.  People that are now dear to my heart for many reasons.  I didn’t get to hang out with them as often as I hoped.  Dan got food poisoning and was leary of eating anywhere.  I enjoyed Papa John’s on numerous occasions.  How funny is that?  I’m in China and eating Papa Johns.  Many people brought their children and it was sweet to see them interact with their new siblings.  I was surprised at how attached the babies were to their new parents and how quickly it happened.  The day we got Maisey and Benjamin they just held on for dear life.  I have to believe that Dan’s prayers about letting them dream about us worked. They wouldn’t let us put them down.  Benjamin was so happy in the hotel room.  He would play and run and laugh like crazy.  They ate and ate and ate.  They fell asleep holding food.  Ben’s security blanket for the first couple of weeks was a spoon and a bowl.  They were deathly afraid of water.   All in all I was just amazed at how smoothly everything went.  I was prepared for the worst.  I truly expected fighting and screaming and fear.  The only fear Ben ever showed was whenever we left the hotel.  He looked so afraid that we were going to take him back.  When we got on the plane and headed home.  We kept telling him family and pointed to the picture that he wore every day while we were there.  I think he finally got it then or at least he had a glimpse of what his life was going to be like.

    There were many firsts while we were in China.  First time I’ve ever had a gas mask in the closet of my hotel room.  First time to see split pants.  First time I was told to “Be Prudent”.   I was surprised about the things I truly missed.  I missed just getting a drink out of the faucett.  Being able to text whenever I wanted to.  Facebook.  Knowing what the food was in the buffet.  Mainly, I missed holding my kids and being able to tuck them in at night. It was worth it to go get our two newest ones and I really enjoyed having a few days alone with them to bond, BUT I missed my babies at home horribly.

    Before we left China, we visited Ben’s orphanage.  The didn’t recommend we go to Maisey’s. It’s probably a good thing.  I’m not sure why exactly, but we weren’t even sure we wanted to go see Ben’s.  I was so upset at how skinny they both were. Many of the children came and they had the usual baby rolls.  Our kids just looked so little.  Ben(3 1/2)  was 22 pounds and Maisey (2) was 16.5 pounds.  I couldn’t see how they could have been properly taken care of.  For that reason, I was glad I went to Ben’s orphanage.  It was a clean, state-of-the-art building.  There were many handicapped children and they were understaffed, but the place was clean and they were trying as hard as they could.  I’ve read that in some orphanages the ratio is 25 or 30 to 1 nanny.   There are just too many children and not enough help.  Ben wanted nothing to do with any of the people in the orphanage.  He just held on to Dan and buried his little face in Dan’s neck. I’m glad we went.  I know they cared.  It just isn’t the place for a child to grow up.

    Now we’ve been home for over a month.  So much has changed.  Ben isn’t fearful. He loves his bath.  He shares his food.  He will actually turn down food now.  Ben says well over 100 English words.  He is so soft spoken and so sweet.  He holds his hand to his ear (like a phone)and asks to talk to Mema or Nana.  He loves to read and build things, especially with Zachary.  He runs and plays and is all boy.  Maisey has her BAHA and is hearing and talking and signing like crazy.  She turned two and had a great birthday.  Maisey is sweetness and love and giggles.  They have become part of our family so seamlessly.   I am so lucky to get to mother these two.  All the fears I had have not come to be.   People warn you of all sorts of things.  I haven’t seen any of them.   Life is good.  I would do it again in a heart beat.  What an amazing journey this has been.