Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Merry Christmas 2011

                                        December in Review
  • Mark and I had a weekend away in Branson. 
  • We hosted our Sunday School Group here. 
  • I hosted a Christmas Youth Party at church.  Fun and Crazy times!
  • Enjoyed Breakfast with Santa at Eckerts
  • Drove through the Lights at Santa's Magical Kingdom.
  • I managed to watch 2 seasons of Parenthood. 
  • And read all 3 of the Hunger Games in 5 days. ;-)
  • I did not sleep much. 
  • We had our Family Fondue Christmas. YUM! 
  • Christmas upon Christmas Party with family.
  • We had the Annual Nativity which was as hilarious as always. Hope I can get it posted here.
  • Were joined by Shane & Elisa from China through Skype for Christmas Eve. 
  • Visited with Marks brother and family in from Georgia. 
  • Makenna & I traveled to Youth Encounter. Obviously she as a youth, me as a well not youth. 
  • I actually enjoyed it, loud music and all.
  • Ate & ate and ate and ate
I think that about wraps it up! It was crazy and loud and fun. We stayed up late, we slept late, we played and played. I think Sage's prayer on Christmas though was the highlight. 
"Dear God, I hope this is your BEST birthday ever, AMEN".   

I hope your Christmas was Merry & Bright!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Battle With In Me

As most every other parent in the USA I am in the midst of Christmas Crazy. Wrapping, shopping, balancing my lists to make sure each child is going to open EQUAL presents.

I have STRUGGLED with even what to get my 5 children this year.  I am a gift giver. I LOVE to give gifts. People who do not share this love language can't understand this. Though I think as moms, we all love to give and see our chidren's faces light up as they tear into packages. 

But with 5 children, FOUR of those girls, we have it all. So I find myself making up things they "need" just to be sure they get something to open. I find myself bending to the challenge of getting the gift that is sold out and hard to find. I find myself buying simply so they can open. 

Not all true. I actually tried to put some practicality into my choices this year. Things that will be used instead of played with. We did set a budget (Thank you Dave Ramsey) and amazingly I stuck to it. Something I typically struggle with. 

Part of our gift giving involves donating to a cause in different peoples names. In lieu of teacher gifts we choose to give in their honor to the cause we feel is needed.  It has been much better received than any of the other creative "junk" I have given.  And so today as I sat down to figure out what we will be doing I was consumed with sadness.  We have contacted Chenzhou, and they said they are in need of warm clothing for the kids. One of my amazing team members  , Megan,  did a clothing drive to get clothes over.  I wish you could all know her heart for the orphan. I wish you could all know HER. Love that girl and SOOO thankful I get her as my team member!  She was able to send over 3 suitcases of clothes. She was guessing that was about 50 outfits! WOW!  Our family is in the process of giving more warm clothes to add to that. Because the thought of my babies over there in the cold, while I sit here in my warm house with my warm clothes, makes me so sick. 

It puts things into perspective when I start wrapping up the toys for MY children, that around the world, those kids, whom I also consider MINE, are freezing.  Just because I can't adopt all of them, I know that God has called me to care for Chenzhou, as if it is my own. 

It causes a battle in me. The battle to fit in with this world I live in. Of designer boots, dream vacations and i-phones/i-pads-pods, etc. And the battle to sell out for what tugs at my heart.  Am I wrong to want things for ME and for my children?  I don't know. I don't think we are ALL called to sacrifice those things. BUT if God has laid it on MY heart to REALLY care for the orphan, THEN is it wrong if I choose ME over them?  Is that what I am doing, choosing me? No one can argue my heart for orphans. Obviously I plan to return in July, so is that enough?  Is it enough to raise funds to send over bumbo seats or send a few fruit baskets for the nannies to enjoy? To provide air conditioning? To keep the communication lines open, reminding them I still think of them? Somehow it does not feel enough. It feels like things I can check off the list. Not that those are not great, because they ARE.  I am SO thankful that the Lord has allowed me to be a part of this story of helping the kids of Chenzhou with bumbos and air conditioning.  I don't take those lightly. They are GOOD things. 

But is it enough? From ME? That is the question.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Can you hear me now?

This is Mavery with her picture of the Floating Lights. Do YOU know what the Floating lights are? You would if you lived here and had watched Tangled exactly 52 times in the last week. Good thing it is one of my favorites. And if you have not seen it, I am sure you would enjoy it!

Mavery is doing better. Her emotions have been WAY up and then WAY down this weekend. For example. She asked me to curl her hair. She has alot of hair, but I started to curl. And curl. Till suddenly she started screaming, I want my hair straight! Ok stop curling. NO I want my hair CURLY! And on we went till I finally convinced her to watch Tangled, Again. We tried to go out on Black Friday. Because we are idiots. And desperate to leave the house. We thought just a short stroll to the Apple Store and dinner. Apple store was not so bad. She played computer games for awhile. Then it was meltdown time. And a 6 year old throwing herself on the floor who I can't pick up and straddle on my hip to carry out because of her surgery is not fun. I promise. We finally got her out and Mark was still hopeful for dinner. I was hopeful for Rapture. We compromised on Steak & Shake drive thru, which made Mavery happy. As well as ending the evening with... Tangled. ;-)  This is just how it goes each time for her. Drugs are GOOD in the hospital. Drugs are BAD when you come off of them.

Today was our meeting with the Ear Nose and Throat Doctor. They once again tested her hearing. And the audiologist once again said she suggested double hearing aides and was sure the doctor would agree. She then proceeded to tell us about getting the hearing aides, how they work etc.  Then we met with the doctor. First, I am not sure how many people have been in a waiting room that proclaims Jesus. This is the only place I have been, and believe me, I have seen MANY medical facilities. I am not talking about a cross on the wall. I am talking bibles and christian reading on the shelves. A doctor whose faith just pours from him when he invites you in. I adore him, he is so amazing.

He said there is no way he thinks Mavery needs hearing aides. (Say what?)  In his opinion, her hearing is heart related (interesting) and will not get worse. (Praise God!) He thinks it is not bad enough to warrant aides and that with the right speech therapy she will be just fine. I confirmed that the audiologist said AGAIN she needs aides. He just smiled and said, she does not. What she does need is a good ear cleaning once a year (yuck!) and he will re check her then, but no aides. She is fine.


It is as if the angels were singing. I sat there stunned and so really did not ask questions. I asked Mavery if she understood that she does not have to wear hearing aides and she was not happy. I mean come on, purple hearing aides she was going to name Papa Larry were pretty exciting in her head.

I asked Mark if we could spend the money we saved on a cruise instead.

That is a joke. We did not HAVE the money for hearing aides.  And now, we don't have to worry.

She is fine. WE are fine. And God is good.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


It was a long night, because of course when you sleep all day who needs to sleep at night?? Mavery was quite ready to go home this morning, as were we! The hospital was so quiet today, only a skeleton staff. Which means everything takes awhile. Had a chest xray, watched enchanted, again. Finally, we were free! Slept away the afternoon, turkey dinner was delivered and enjoyed. Grammy & Papa have the rest of the kids for the weekend so we can spoil ms mavery! Happy and thankful!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

All is well!

Mavery is doing great! She slept the entire 6 hours after, praise the Lord! We were told we would have a room mate but came to a private room, thankful! She has been so sweet and calm this evening and we are now enjoying watching enchanted while she drinks a smoothie and enjoys some fruit. Her night nurse has been our same nurse every single hospital stay, and remembers Ms Mavery well! All the way back to our first visit 3 years ago when mavery paraded the halls in her cowgirl boot slippers, her purse and her bling! As much as we don't enjoy being in the hospital, we have used every chance we get to share our story, Maverys story. She has loved handing out treats we made to her nurses. We are so thankful God let us parent this sweet girl.

Update so far...

Mavery is done! We are waiting to see her but just talked to the surgeon. Great words to hear "we like you guys, but we don't want to see you for a long time, stay away! " First time for a good report since we started on this journey of the heart 3 years ago. They ballooned the right pulmonary artery, and placed 2 more stents in the right. Eventually these will need dilated as she grows, but prayerfully, not for a long time. And the valve is leaky, but unless we see signs(over tired) they will wait till she is older to mess with it. We are feeling very very thankful. But now the fun begins. 5-6 hours of lying flat! I hope they can keep her drugged. Or me drugged, either way. :-)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Update time for tomorrow

Cath lab called tonight and moved Mavery up to arrive at 645 am! This is great news! Means we can stay in cath lab(on the good drugs!) till she can get up. They said they called in an extra anesthesiologist. The lady who called has been with us each procedure, she knows our girl well!

Cardiac cath Wednesday

Testing to see if I can post from my phone. Tomorrow we are supposed to be at Children's Hospital at 10am for mavery's cath. I'm guessing it will be noon or later before they actually start. Yes we will be there overnight. Yes we will prayerfully be home on Thanksgiving. She has been acting more tired lately so we are anxious to get this over. And as I made the appointment and asked for an earlier time, I was told before her is a heart transplant. So I am thankful that we are not there, that my daughter "just needs" a heart cath. Thanks for praying!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mavery's Medical Madness

I have some posts about ready. As it IS birthday season here. But I wanted to give an update on Mavery and her many doctor appointments recently.

  • We started with cavities. Her first. Besides the fact that I am wondering if my dentist just ENJOYS getting $ from us, I just can't imagine because she is a good "brusher".  I think we will get a 2nd opinion on this one. 
  • Hearing. Since Mavery started school, they tested her for speech and she flunked the test. Or passed, however you want to look at it. It is no surprise to us. She talks well, she learned English at the speed of lightening. BUT there are many sounds she struggles with. So they set up all our appointments to get her speech therapy while in school. They went ahead and did a hearing test, which she failed. Thinking MAYBE it was just her having waxy ears, they suggested we go on to an audiologist.
  • She failed that too. SO, the suggestion is that she gets double hearing aides. We see the doctor later this month to discuss what all of this means. It is the higher sounds she is missing. It was almost as if an light bulb went off. It COULD explain SO much of her behavior.  Which brings out a whole lot of guilt. In me. I have lots more to say on this, hopefully soon. 
  • Heart check up was this week. She did  AMAZING, oh when I remember back on those early echo's, they were SO hard and now she just cooperates.  They scanned FOREVER which is never a good sign. Her pressures in the arteries are up. They SHOULD be 20, they were 40 lat check and now up to 60. We are seeing signs of this, she is more tired than usual. Which is scary now that we know. So, they will be doing a cath to go in and dilate both arteries. Which means they go in the left and right side. We have done this, what 4 or 5 times now? But still not something you want for your child. She will be under and we will be there overnight. Mavery does not do well with sedation so prayerfully this will go smoothly.
As we have had each appointment, we have been adding up the costs of all we will have to pay out of pocket. It is not good.  It is more than not good.  Especially since we have been trying SO hard to pay off our debt (which surprisingly enough is all Mavery! ;-)  ) We have been in a class of Dave Ramsey, and trying, REALLY trying.

But today I am reminded of the BLESSING we have that Mavery is HERE! She is ours, and she is ALIVE! IF we had not adopted her, the chances that she would have had more done to fix her heart were slim. In fact, the chances that they would have even caught that aneurysm, well I have a feeling there is one way they would have known it was there. Not a good way either. 

We appreciate your prayers as we finish out this year with lots of doctors.  So thankful for a loving Father who cared so much for Mavery He allowed us to parent her.  I will update as we get a date on that heart cath.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Mom-Van

I overheard a conversation of someone talking about how they don't want to drive a van.

ANYTHING but a van.

That has always made me laugh because I could not WAIT to drive a van! Even when I was pregnant with Makenna, we bought a van! We lived out of town and we wanted to be able to ride with our guests when they visited.

We also traveled home often and so it just made sense.

And seriously, I have not done much in life that really MAKES SENSE.

So the fact that I was EXCITED about a van, kind of strange.

Thinking about how so many people are against vans, just makes me ponder.  What is it that for some make them so UN -COOL?  And why for me, is it not a big deal?

I am not going to try to figure out everyone else. I honestly don't get it simply because they are comfortable, much more comfortable than an SUV. I have had both. I do know. They are great on gas. They hold a ton.

But for me...

I am PROUD to drive a van. Because it is a symbol of being a mom.

And I love being a mom. I really do.

Yes, some days I complain. Ok, ALOT of days I complain.

And I get tired. Stressed. Crabby. MEAN!

But I still love my job. Mommy to 5.

I love that we not only drive a mini van but that we HAD to get a larger van.

To seat more. 15 to be exact. 

Because God blessed us for a season with a baby boy, and his even his mama at times.

I love that my husband urged me to fill out an application to invite even MORE into that van.

So you can have your SUV's and your fancy cars. But give me a van any day.

Though if it were possible to add a glass partition between the front row and children, I would have no complaints!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Gotcha Mavery THREE YEARS!!

So much to say about Ms Mavery since that day we got her 3 years ago.  Mavery Monday, remember?  It has been quite the ride these last 3 years.  Up and down emotionally, physically and mentally.  As I read back on some of the posts through these past years such as this one  or back in the beginning this... I can read those now and smile.

We made it.

In one of the posts I talked about how sometimes I am told it takes as long as a child lived in an orphanage to adjust.

For Mavery that was almost 3 years.

And here we are.


God is good. We are blessed.

There are times I look back on the hard days, and I feel much guilt. Things I could have done better. Some of the selfishness on my part. And there still is. I get tired. Worn down.

Yet the Lord is good to remind me, that I did the best I could at the time. It was not always perfect, but it was all I had.

I remember at times wishing AHEAD to when things settled down. It seemed SO FAR away to think of being home 3 years, but it was like this magic number I held in my heart.

And while I hate that time is going SO fast, life really is good.

Mavery is a miracle. She is MY miracle.  And I am so, so thankful that I am her mommy.

She is a different child than the one we met in China. The one home a year, or even 2.

No doubt, she still does better in a routine. She still prefers to hang out at time with adults. She still can spin out of control when she is tired.  Like alot of other children who are 5.

But when I look at her now, MY heart is softer. There is a tenderness there that is new. The wall that came up before at times when she would begin to scream, is gone.

I see SO much of the good now.

She is my little artist. She LOVES to color and draw pictures.

Her favorite is to write WOW Mom, love Mavery.

Wow!  My Mavery has AMAZING handwriting and drawing skills!

Wow! She can ride a 2 wheeler like a pro. Down "green grass hill" (our yard) and over the skate ramp.

Wow! She has yet to meet a stranger. She LOVES everyone and makes you feel like your her best friend.

Wow! She is the most polite and thoughtful child. Will share ANYTHING she has.

Wow! If you have not had a Mavery hug, you are missing out! And her kisses? She still has the best kissy lips ever!

Wow! She ALWAYS picks up, puts her shoes away, follows directions. (especially if it is ROUTINE!)

Wow! She has such a tender heart.

Don't get me wrong, if you know her you know she is full of SPUNK. ESPECIALLY if we are out of routine. She is brutally honest, so you NEVER doubt what she is thinking.  She will tell you if you are old, have funny hair, done something she is not happy with,  or doing something wrong. She can't always control her curiosity so if she wants to see what you are wearing under your dress, she will look!  She has one volume so in a quiet place is not a good thing.  She has a mouth on her at times and I was told this week that I was a mean mom because I do not let her say bad words like the neighbors mom does.  We have to keep an eye on her because we never know whose lap she will be in, whose food she will be eating, or whose purse she might be going through! Thankfully we are surrounded by family and friends who love our girl and enjoy her!  Well, maybe not the pulling up the dress part! ;-)

3 years. She has now lived with us officially longer than she lived in the orphanage.  I love that we have reached that point. Big stuff really when you think about it.

Last week I was telling her how beautiful her hair is. She is PROUD of her hair and gets REALLY angry with me when I even trim her bangs.  And she has GREAT hair. It is THICK and wavy and perfect. I asked her if she was sad in China when they would cut her hair. She said "Yes, they used this cutter thing like this and I would cry because they would cut it ALL off and I wanted long hair"! I was shocked, I did not think she could remember, but obviously she does, because what she described was a razor. And of course she had a shaved head in most photos and on gotcha day.

Her past is a part of her, and of course we don't want her to forget. BUT, we want her to be able to look back KNOWING that she is here now. Forever. Loved. Wanted. Chosen. 

So thankful for a God who carries us, directs us and loves us BIG. Thankful that He opened our eyes to adoption. So thankful that the little girl we met 3 years ago who we worried would never smile, now smiles from head to toes. So thankful for 3 years with Ms Mavery!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Malaine is NINE!

What can I say about my Lainey bug?  My little love bug. My middle child. Easy, sweet, lovely. As I worked on this blog and went through my photos of Malaine, I decided to take a trip down memory lane. So here are some past pictures and 9 great things about our little Lainey.

 She smiles. ALWAYS. She is a pleaser, and I have to make sure that no one takes advantage of that. I was going through her closet choosing a Sunday outfit and I lay out a dress for her. She came in and told me it did not fit quite right, which I knew it did. I asked her if she does not like the dress, and she refused to tell me she did not like it, because I had picked it out!

She wants a baby in our family in the worst way. She LOVES babies. ADORES babies. When she grows up she wants to.. be a mom! With lots of adopted babies.  I can't wait to take her to China. Someday.

Is my child that actually plays with toys.  So many times I buy toys feeling as if they will not get played with. Malaine PLAYS. She has lots of imagination and loves EACH of her toys.  American Girl DOLLS, barbie DOLLS. BABY dolls, all rank high.

She is still homeschooled and an easy student. Because even when I have a bad day, Lainey smiles! She does tell me that if I would adopt again she would happily go to school.  ;-)

Loves the Lord and has such a tender heart. She was baptized this year and loves being a "princess of the King!"

Makes friends no matter where we go. I am proud of her for always trying to make sure everyone has a friend. 
Still has part monkey to her. She loves to climb, hang, you name it. Is in gymnastics this year and today was the first day she said, It is HARD.

 Was able to have a part in our production at church this year, Judgement House. She LOVED being a part of Gods story for 2 weeks.

Is a prayer warrior. If you ask this girl to pray, she is ON it. She LOVES to pray and is quick to remind us who we forgot to pray for.  I always trust that when you ask her to pray, it comes from her heart. 

Happy Birthday sweet girl, we are so thankful for you!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Wedding Weekend!

The first weekend of September we were able to celebrate my "baby" cousin Brett, getting married.  Obviously, he is all grown up now and we are so proud of the Godly man he has grown into.  And we are thrilled to welcome our new cousin Rachel into this crazy family!  I did not get any ceremony photos, I was to busy controlling the 3 ring circus in my row.  Rachel was a beautiful bride and we all had such a great time! Sage is already asking when they are going to have babies and if those babies are going to come from China! ;-)