Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Why Does Papa Sleep On The Couch!!!

I really don't think he can find a spot in the bed with me, the girls, and our Yorkie!!! I just thought this was funny tonight and so I took some pictures of the usual process of getting Katie, Karissa, and Annie to go to sleep. Mary really doesn't like to sleep and I have to fuss with her to get her to sleep. If we put her in our bed, she drives everyone near her crazy, with her many antics!!! When I finally get into bed, poor Duane moves to the couch, where he can stretch out. I know he must have a sore arm from hanging on to the literal edge of the bed...Ha Ha!!! What a good sport he is to tolerate us at bedtime;-). When the grand babies spend the night, Duane doesn't even try to find, so much as a tiny space, in the bed. Poor Papa.....we need "side rails" on the bed!!! Well, it is a king size bed....hmmmm.....I think we have run out of room;-).

Monday, July 21, 2008

We've Been Busy

The kids watch as Papa piles up all the dossier papers to begin burning them;-(
Duane lights them up to burn.
The kids move in for a closer look at their burning papers and the instrument by which they all became our beautiful little children and Americans.
Papa gets out clothes hangers so the kids can roast marshmallows. They really enjoyed doing that!!!
John-John is melting a marshmallow in his mouth...YUMMY!!!
Katie Aunna has a little streak of orneriness. She is showing us her marshmallow in her mouth...Ha Ha!!!!
Well, we have obviously been very busy lately. I wanted to post about our adoption "vasectomy". Yes, I know this is a strange use of the term "vasectomy" that Duane came up with about three weeks ago. It simply boils down to us burning all of our last six international adoption dossiers!!! It is a bit odd to me to do this, as I ran my legs off, getting those dossiers pulled together between 2002 and 2008. We had all the papers in a box stashed in the back of my closet. It did rather fit into my cleaning frenzy that I am still experiencing. I would swear that I am nesting after Katie Aunna's adoption rather than before.
I did do a little bit of nesting before we went to Russia on our court trip in April. Of course, we did not expect to stay for a month in Russia and so maybe I would have had a little more energy to nest if I would not have been so exhausted getting the Murmansk dossier pulled together. Then to stand there, and watch all these precious papers burn, has had a little more of an emotional effect on me than I had predicted that it would. However, it also was a nice feeling that we have completed our family. I love adopting internationally, but, we just can not afford to do it anymore. These days, following the "vasectomy", I am feeling a little regret and yet I know the facts financially. Maybe, we will suddenly get "rich"....ha ha....I doubt it. However, I am really enjoying my children so very much!!! So, that's what I will focus on and the many responsibilities still to come.

This has been such a fun summer with Katie Aunna at home. She is everything I have dreamed about in an older child adoption. Considering, we have been blessed with children in just about every "conceivable" way, Katie Aunna has been a fabulous experience for us. I am so happy to be her Mama and she could not be any happier to be my little girl!!! I think back when we were visiting her in February and she had just had surgery. My sweet little girl all alone during a surgery we would (in America) be camping out with her in her hospital room. It left a terrible scar both physically and emotionally for Katie Aunna. After being at home now for two months...she still asks me if her arm will be hurt anymore and will I keep her always. I can't help but to smile and hug her closely when I promise her that the rest of my life belongs to her.

So, I suppose we will have to endure the test of time in regard to the "no more" children mentality. Duane is standing firm that we can not afford any more children. I do believe him, as we are having a rough time, getting straightened out financially. Further, I understand that Russian adoptions WILL continue to become a much longer process to finalize. This is such a hardship on the adoptive family both financially and emotionally. I seriously doubt we will be able to do it again;-(!!!!

Okay...on to other news.....we went over to Lubbock to the pediatric orthopedic doctor. They cut off Casey's cast (STINKY) and put on a new fresh one which he will wear for the next three weeks. Then the doctor will evaluate his x-rays and determine if he needs anymore cast time. I also had an appointment for x-rays with them for Katie Aunna. It was not good as apparently the diagnoses of a "non-union" of her left shoulder was not quite the case. She has evidence of an old break which did not properly heal. The good news is that she is seeing the best doctors for her little arm and they will be following her healing process since this surgery occurred only five months ago. Our doctor also said that her scar is at a nice time to break up some of the scar tissue underneath it since it is still a pink scar. So we will continue to gently massage vitamin E oil after bath each night, be sure to get her neuromuscular therapy, and her chiropractic care. My little Arctic Princess grows stronger with her trust in us every day.
We also visited our wonderful Dr. Neal while in Lubbock. Karissa has another perforation in her NEW eardrum she received in Dallas last December. It looks like, if her eardrum does not heal completely, she will not get her middle ear replaced. Unfortunately, she will not hear in that ear without her next surgery. Then Katie Aunna got into the doctor's exam chair and she has "swimmers ear"!!! Can you imagine that??? Ha Ha....as much time as we spend swimming....I was not surprised. Both girls were prescribed a ten day round of steroids. If it was any other doctor...I might be more concerned. But, we trust Dr. Neal so much that we would immediately follow his treatment of our beautiful children without question. We also discussed Katie's tonsils which remain very large and inflamed.

Apparently, they will not heal and are more of a source of poison to her rather than a help
to eliminate her body's infections. So, the plan is, tentatively set, that we will remove them in September. I am a bit concerned about that as Duane's business has earned a trip to Switzerland for us in October. I wish all the kids could go!!! Unfortunately, these trips are not kid friendly and my dear husband does not want to travel to Europe with seven kids...awe!!!! So, we will need to leave the kids at home;-(. I just don't know how I will survive for two weeks without my children. Yet, I want to spend some alone time with Duane that is not bogged down with the stress of an adoption process or our complex daily lives.

Hopefully, it will all fall into place for a little R&R for Duane and I this October. Now, we must decide who will stay with the children, work on the bills so we can save some spending money, and get Katie and Karissa's health needs in check, then try to relax without my kids....OH MY!!!! Oh yes, and this Fall we will need dental care for all the kids, John's circumcision, and a new school year to conduct. It should be very interesting as I attempt to make it all mesh successfully. Have I mentioned that we are also praying for God to see our way clear for a Dodge Sprinter???

We would really appreciate your prayers with us as it is so difficult to go anywhere with our minivan. I can only seat six kids with one of the six sitting in the front seat. This means I must get a sitter for the ones left at home every time I need to go anywhere. I have actually turned to late night shopping as I can go and leave the kids at home sleeping with Duane to take care of them. Next year we will take a family vacation (God willing and we can afford it) to our favorite place...Branson, Missouri. This is also an important time to have a larger vehicle. Family vacations are so important to the kids and to us as some of my fondest memories with my own parents were those family vacations. I really want this for our children, too. So, please pray for our Sprinter;-). Seven kids presents a special problem and adding our two grandchildren, we are talking about NINE kids (with two adults) on a family vacation with a destination 16 hours drive away!!! But, oh so worth it all;-).

Okay...my final subject is school. I have done a lot of research in regard to curriculum programs. This will be our second year of homeschooling and I must admit that I wonder at times if I am just crazy or what!!! I could send all of them to school and preschool at their ages and have a peaceful day Monday through Friday. Oh sure!!! I know how I am and I would feel like I was cheating myself out of time with them. More than lost time is that our school systems here are awful and I want the best education possible for them. So, who better qualifies than I do??? No one;-). This means my last 12 years in the business of assisting other people's children and my college degrees dictate that "I am the BEST teacher" for them. I also wanted to include some pictures of Casey and his tool skills. I found the cutest little preschool desks for John-John and Mary!!! Casey got out the tools and put them together with basically one hand. I think he should follow in his Dad's footsteps and be a Carrier Dealer;-). John-John and Mary are delighted with their own special desk...how cute!!!!
Now, once that I have established who is their best teacher....we needed a curriculum. Last year it was rather eclectic as I bought various workbooks and used the Internet, as well, for curriculum materials that I put together for them. This was very difficult as I have John-John who is in SN preschool, Mary in regular preschool, Christian and Karissa starting second grade, and Casey in a combination of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade work in various subjects. This would be my most prime example of poor public schooling when my child is weak in some areas and advanced in others. He needed customizing and that is what I did. He still is not current in his grade levels and so I need a curriculum that I can choose what to purchase and customize our academic needs.

In retrospect, it was wonderful watching Karissa and Christian learn to read for me!!!! WOW!!! Also, it was so special to reclaim a relationship with my teenage boy without the interference of school separation and peers. John-John has amazed me with his progress and Mary ACTUALLY loves my preschool class!!! AWESOME!!! It was also wonderful for Annie's pre-K training as she will be a big Kindergarten girl this year. She learned so well and is quite prepared for Kindergarten. Now, include Katie Aunna, who is just getting a good grasp on English, and we definitely need customized and structured all in one.

This year I really feel I can do even better if I use a tried and true curriculum. Then it occurred to Duane and I that I should research curriculum within our Catholic religious beliefs. So, I wrote to my Catholic International Adoption group for advice. I received lots of good information both privately and on the list. It seemed to be repeatedly suggested that the Catholic Heritage Curriculum ranks at the top of the list. I have ordered all of their school curriculum for all the grades...preschool through middle school. Next, I went into nesting mode again and remembered we had a really nice bookcase which was sitting in our storage building gathering dust while I had five large tubs of materials I have to sift through. Yep...you guessed it....we have all of our materials from last year organized and a shelf waiting to receive the new CHC materials. I just about passed out when the curriculum cost was given to me.

But, Duane had an excellent point!!! The kids are getting lots of one on one schooling attention with a great curriculum for far less than we would pay tuition in a private Christian school. Here we do not have a Catholic school and so it would not be parochial even if we sent them for $800 monthly per child to our one and only private Christian school. What a sweet man my husband is as he then added that the children will continue to have the best teacher in town;-). I really think that's sweet of him to have so much confidence in my skills and academic background. So, now we wait for the UPS truck to pull up to our door in a few weeks with our brand new Catholic curriculum!!!

We also had visitors from Albuquerque;-). Duane's brother, Denis, came to town. He is holding his grand daughter...what a little doll!!!! As you can see....we have been very busy lately and I doubt it is going to slow down either. But, I guess this is the way we like life....a challenge. Many blessings to you and please pray with us for our vehicle problem.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

New Post on the Way

Hi...Just wanted to let you all know that I am putting together a post in regard to our last weekend. It was quite interesting. So, expect it within the next day or two (at most). Blessings!!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Katie Aunna's First 4th of July and Annie's Birthday

Fourth of July 2008

Annie and Katie. Look at the food in our tail-gate kitchen;-)

Pictured above is: Casey, Karissa, Katie, Christian, Annie,
Mary, and John

Kisty and Duane

Far right Karissa and Katie are best of friends and really enjoy each other so much. I think this picture of them says a lot about how much they love each other!!!!!

Below is a very nice picture of my 2nd cousin "Tanner". What a cutie!!!

Above Casey is coping with the use of only one arm!!!

Princess DeeDee on the 4TH of July;-)

Family and Friends eating and waiting for the fireworks to begin!!!

Then on Sunday, Annie celebrated her 5TH birthday, with a swim party!!!

Christian is so beautiful!!!!
Annie is FIVE and proud of it!!!

Annie saw her cake in the refrigerator in the garage the night before her party and she loved it!!!

Katie Aunna had a wonderful time for the 4th of July. She was a little shy at first with all the new people she was exposed to. However, it did not take her long to want a sparkler and to enjoy the aerial fireworks. The day's events began by cooking foods for the park. It is our annual tradition to go to the Green Acres Lake and watch what is called "Smoke Over The Water" which is funded by our local area business community and private donors. I understand the fireworks cost close to $30,000 this year and they were well worth it. They were breathtakingly beautiful and Katie Aunna was in absolute awe!!! It was so sweet as she said "Mommy, I love America!!!".

Well anyway, first we had a huge picnic. Above are some pictures of the tail-gate food festival for our pot luck picnic. It is a time when all of our family and friends join together to celebrate our country. It is always so much fun for both the adults and the children!!!! John did not cry last year, but, did this year. Katie Aunna jumped into my lap and there she remained until the end when she was finally delighted. Following the public display we went home and shot off our fireworks. By that time Katie and all the kids were having a blast!!!
On Sunday afternoon we celebrated Annie's 5TH birthday. It was so cute as Annie kept looking for her birthday cake. We put it into the refrigerator in the garage and thought maybe she would hold off looking for it out there. Guess again!!! Saturday evening she went right out to the garage and came running into the house screaming "I found it Mommy!!!" and so we showed it to her. I enjoyed watching her pleasure as she opened her presents on Sunday, ate cake, and swam with her family. Annie is the sweetest little girl. Once in a while she is a little ornery. However, she is the most mellow and laid back of all our children. Course, we all know Miss Mary is one hot tamale!!!!
There are times in our home when I feel the "OMG....I'm in over my head" and then one of them does something sweet and I feel like the luckiest person in the world. I have people ask how many children do we have and then they say "Gosh...I'm glad it's you and not me" and the only thing I can say is "I'm glad it's me and not you, too...LOL"!!!! Having a big family is not easy and often presents new challenges. However, they are all so very precious and we enjoy them immensely!!! I can not imagine our life without a single one of our children and would do it all over again.
Speaking of challenges.....Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center is so wonderful. Poor Casey really broke his arm at a bad time. We took him to the Clovis ER where they wrapped his arm in a temporary soft cast until the swelling went down. That next week after the break we took him to the local recommended doctor. I have a lot of respect for this doctor as he said he felt Casey should see a pediatric ortho doc instead of a general ortho. So, naturally, I called our friend Mr. Conner. Unfortunately, the 4TH of July weekend was upon us by this time.
However, first thing Monday morning (July 7th) TTUHSC called and asked if we could bring Casey over to the doc that afternoon. WOW!!! So, I jumped into high speed and got Weldon to come home from work and watch the kids while I took Casey over to Lubbock. The doctor in Clovis thought Casey needed surgery to repair the break. Fortunately, the doc at Tech did not. So Casey finally got his hard cast (deep blue) ten days after the break. He is no longer in much pain and is tolerating it all quite well thus far. We will return in two weeks for a check up and more x-rays. I had also received a referral from the TTUHSC for Katie Aunna to see this doctor for her shoulder x-rays and I made an appointment for her at this time.
It will be interesting to find out what was done to her arm in the surgery she endured in Russia. I always feel sad when I think of my little girl in a Russian hospital all alone without parents to comfort her. The scar on her arm is very significant and although she is in neuromuscular and chiropractic therapy, I would really like to know what her exam will reveal. Next, I need to get her in with the strabismus specialist (Dallas if surgery is needed) and begin to make a decision (beside glasses for vision correction) what my next course will be for her vision issues. Then Annie has an appointment in September with the Shriners for her annual check up. John-John needs circumcised and Katie Aunna needs her tonsils out...they are huge and red all the time!!! Finally, Karissa is doing well with her new ear drum and it looks like we may be able to move on to the middle ear this winter!!! After this next surgery, in Dallas at Baylor, she will hear for the first time in that ear. How exciting!!!
Well, I guess this just about covers it for this week. I will post again after the weekend and share more about the kids. Our summer home school program is working nicely and I feel we have made a lot of progress so far. They should be well prepared for the next grade. Annie and Katie will be in kindergarten, Karissa and Christian in 2nd grade, and Casey in a mix of 7TH and 8TH grade work. I have found a wonderful Christian Home School Store in Lubbock and plan on getting remaining needed school materials there next month!!! Thanks for listening and following our family. Till next week.....Many blessings!!!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Bad News For Broken Elbow

Christian working on his puzzle (1000 pieces)!!!
Christian just wanted his picture taken today and posted;-).

Today, we were so excited and happy, that Casey might get a hard cast and stabilize his painful broken arm and elbow. I really have to respect this ortho doctor we saw today. He sent Casey for more x-rays first. Then upon examination of the results coupled with his physical exam of Casey's arm, said it was more intense than just needing to be casted. He will refer Casey to Texas Tech Health Sciences Center for several surgeries.
The doctor here thinks Casey will need a metal plate with screws and pins to properly repair his break:-(((. So, tomorrow I will get a date to see the pediatric orthopedic surgeon at TTHSC. It looks like we have a long haul ahead of us with Casey's rehabilitation. I cried today when we were on our way home from the doctor's office and so did poor Casey. Bless his heart....this is just a bit more than we expected. We are in prayer for our son and hope that you will pray for his recovery, too. I will let you know more when we find out about his surgery tomorrow.

On a happier note....Katie and I are adjusting so nicely together. She has bonded with her new family very completely and seldom asks anymore if she will stay here tomorrow. It seems she was constantly asking me (in Russian) if she would stay another day with me. I always answer the same "You will be mine and I will be yours forever". Never have I known a happier or more grateful child than our little Katie Aunna. I am so happy God chose her for our family and placed her into our home. I wake each morning and begin to work caring for my seven children. My first waking moments are filled with pictures of the children in my mind and I realize that these are the best days of my life!!!

Oh yes....one more catastrophic issue. My clothes dryer's heating element went out on Sunday afternoon!!!! Talk about a panic in our house....this is a biggie. I do about six loads of laundry each day. This means that Sunday through Thursday would make about 24 loads of laundry!!! OH MY!!! So, my answer to the problem is to pretend we are on a European Vacation by wearing our clothes for days...ha ha. We have all been very careful not to dirty our clothes and the girls have worn the same little play dress for three days now. Their change of clothes consists of swimsuits, clean under clothes daily, same dress, and same pair of pajama's. Isn't that funny??? Fortunately, the appliance repairman says he has our part in and can put it on in the morning. Laundry will begin to flow once again!!! YEAH!!!!

Trampoline awaiting a new tarp:-(

Children above discussing who jumps first (I don't referee those squabbles).......

Happy children reunited with their trampoline....

So, more good news...the trampoline tarp has been completed and installed. The children are very happy to have their toy restored and at their disposal. Here are a few pictures of pure pleasure!!! That's about it for today. I will keep you posted in regard to Casey's surgery and ask for your healing prayers. Many blessings!!!