Sunday, October 26, 2008

Birthdays And More Birthdays

It just amazes me that another year has flown by us!!! Casey is 15 years old and the twins are 8 years old as of Monday. So, Casey, Christian, and Karissa will all celebrate being one year older on October 27TH. Duane and I are taking only the three of them out for dinner at the restaurant of their choice Wednesday evening. At least, this was suggested to them and they seemed to like that idea. No little kids allowed...Ha Ha!!!

Then our baby, Little John-John, turns 4 years old on the 30TH of this month, too. It's so cute!!! When the TV commercial comes on for the Tonka remote control car, he says "I want that" and points to the TV. So, we are going to have a cake and small family party for his birthday. I am a bit taken back that he has actually been home almost two years from Serbia. Time just flies!!!

Like this isn't enough cake and ice cream (SUGAR).....then on Friday the kids will Trick or Treat in our neighborhood. Gee, I hope they don't get too much yummy junk food;-). Speaking of sugar....we made our annual Halloween Puppy Chow or what some call Monkey Munch. The kids like calling it Puppy Chow and they "bark" as they eat it or jump around acting like monkeys all high on sugar....HA HA!!!! Here's our recipe:

Puppy Chow or Monkey Munch

1 box of Chex Cereal (about 10 cups of cereal)
1 & 1/2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup of (smooth) peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
2 tsp. vanilla
1 & 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

Place Chex in a very large bowl. Set aside. Microwave chocolate chips, butter, and peanut butter in a bowl for 1 minute. Stir and cook for another 30 seconds. Stir in vanilla. Slowly pour mixture over Chex while tossing with two spoons. Mix in powdered sugar. Place in large gallon zip-lock bags and shake. Eat and run wild on sugar!!! It goes quite well with a tall glass of very chilled milk...yummy;-).

I really don't have much sugar around the house and so the holidays become "pig out on sugar" time. Christian, Karissa, Katie Aunna (she is recovering nicely from her surgery), and Annie have all decided to run it off outside. John-John and his good old buddy Mary are not going outside and decided to play toys in John-John's room. They both ate Puppy Chow and barked like the big kids did earlier.

I am trying to figure out how my new camera uploads and will attempt to post some pictures of the events of the week as soon as possible. Look for further updates next weekend when the Birthdays and Halloween have past. Have a great week!!!!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Katie's surgery

I am happy to report that Katie Aunna is doing wonderfully!!!! Her tonsils were huge and very bad. I am so happy that we did this surgery with her and I know she is feeling better already even though she is hurting. Dr. Neal prescribed Tylenol with codeine for her pain and it seems to be working well for her. I want to share about Katie's experience yesterday with her surgery.

Thursday afternoon we (Duane, Casey, Karissa, Katie, and I) drove over to Lubbock and pre-registered her. Then we all went to Outback for dinner....YUMMY!!! Duane had a little surprise in mind for me!!!! After dinner, he took me to Circuit City and bought me a new digital camera....oh WOW!!! It is so nice and something I have wanted for a while now. So we are set for some great holiday pictures this year. Next, we checked into our hotel room to hopefully catch a little sleep before our 4:00am wake-up call. Needless to say, I was too stressed out to sleep. I laid there stressing about how Katie might respond to her surgery until around 2:00am and slept maybe two hours before the phone rang with our wake-up call.

Duane and I got the girls up, and left Casey to sleep in, as he had requested the night before. I think, being raised in a large family, sleeping in is a real treat for our teenager;-). Also, to see her in pain was too difficult for Casey and so he wanted to wait it out apart from us. Karissa took her school work with her so she would have something to do while we went through this process. When we came out of our hotel it was still dark and the girls thought that it was too early to be up. But, Katie was scheduled to go first into the OR suite. I had discussed, with Dr. Neal, Katie's experience with her arm surgery in Russia. We all felt we should do this quickly to help with her preoperative anxiety.

When we arrived at the hospital, and parked the car, Katie began to feel anxiety. She was hanging onto me for dear life and she kept asking me if we would stay with her. Apparently, her experience in Russia left a lasting impression in her mind that we would just drop her off and "maybe" return for her. Once she was taken into the waiting area she began to cry and beg me not to do this. I kept reassuring her that we loved her and we would never leave for home without her. I explained (for the millionth time) that in America, parents can stay with their children, no matter how long it would take.

The anesthesiologist, thankfully, gave Katie medication to relieve some of her anxiety. It did stop her crying and helped her relax until the nurses came for her. It was so sad as she looked up at me with her beautiful blue eyes and her message to me was clear. I was holding her hand when we reached the OR doors. It was at this point that she freaked out as the nurse said "tell Mommy you will see her in a little while".

Well, Katie did not go for this "see you later" business and she jumped on her feet in the bed and grabbed around my neck. They literally had to pry her off. I tried so hard not to cry, but, I was really fighting a losing battle with holding my composure after she was taken from view. I could hear her screaming "Mommy" for what seemed an eternity. In reality it wasn't long until I did not hear her crying and calling for me. It was one of the most difficult moments of my life.

It is not that surgeries with our other children were not difficult. It was the fact that Katie Aunna still had a small portion of her heart that held insecurity about her new life and family. Whereas, with our other children, they know we are true to our word and always keep our promises. This is the way Duane and I both were raised. When our parents made a promise, they kept it. They never promised us something they did not feel 100% confident about. Katie Aunna just has not had enough experiences with us to give us her whole heart.

Katie has many experiences in her past that influence her belief in situations. The largest being medically related and her security with us has had a mentality of "I was left for a painful surgery once and it could happen again". As a result, she was not about to separate from me without a fight yesterday morning. When she came out of the surgical suite, she was so afraid, that she wet her pants as I walked into the recovery room. So, I immediately took her hand and she drew it close to her face. Katie kissed my hand and just held it close to her face.

I sat in a chair and held her while the nurses changed her bed. For a good hour she refused to get into her bed and just smelled me as she snuggled. It was so sweet and in that hour she bonded to me more than I could have ever imagined. She gave to me her whole heart and all of her trust. When we finally checked out and left for home, she was so happy it can not be explained in words. Although she is ill, I don't know of a time she has been more relaxed and confident.

Over the last 24 hours since her surgery, she has said "I love you" at least a million times. Last night she slept with me and woke up several times with pain. Papa, of course, slept on the couch and got up to meet her needs when he heard her. I slept like a rock with my little girl safely beside me.

I am very thankful for my dear husband and the fact that he is such a loving father to our nine children. Today, Katie Aunna is doing very well and recovering from her surgery....just as we in her own home surrounded by the family she dearly loves.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Touched In My Heart

I just have to share our experiences with Katie Aunna tonight. It was one of those amazing firsts for her. Papa and I took the older children (Karissa, Christian, Casey, and Katie Aunna) to the movie to see "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" this evening. Duane took the first chair, I sat in the next, followed by Katie Aunna, then Karissa, Christian, and Casey. I looked at our sweet little kids sitting there in a row waiting for the show to start. Katie leaned over to me and said "Oh Mommy....TV is really big here and what will we see?" I told her we were here as a special treat to watch big TV about dogs. She laughed out loud over the idea of watching a movie all about dogs and their adventures.

Duane and our big boy Casey went to get our goodies. He came back with four kiddie packs which contained chocolate candy, popcorn, and a coke. When Katie got her kiddie pack her eyes lite up and she looked at me with a delightful smile which conveyed....can this be for me!?!?! She looked up at me with this huge smile on her face and said "Mommy, I love you soooo much and love my home in America". This is really fun". She was so excited and it just beamed from her eyes with delight.

When the movie screen came on she was so delighted and excited. She expressed her joy so openly with her bright smiles and sparkling eyes. As the movie progressed, she munched away on her special treats and I could see she was truly in ecstasy. Katie Aunna ate every bite of her treats. She literally gobbled her treats down. I looked down the line of kids with their treats and Christian, Karissa, and Casey just picked at their kiddie pack as though it was no big deal.

Then I focused once more on Katie and she was savoring every bite and smiling with that first time experience joy. The tears welled up in my eyes as I realized that this little girl, once an orphaned child, really really really appreciated her new life and savored everything given to her. After having spent her entire 6 years of her life in an orphanage, things she is given in her new life, are exceptional pleasures to her. Our other children (adopted as babies and very young toddlers) do not share the same type of gratitude that our older adopted child does.

Katie knew what was minimal living in Russia, whereas the others who were brought home as young toddlers, did not have her grateful attitude. I pray that I can assume an attitude of appreciation with our wonderful God, like Katie has with us, for all the things He does for us and be truly grateful to Him by reflecting the true joy and appreciation that I observed in my Russian Arctic Princess....Katie Aunna.

Katie, on the other hand, appreciates perks that she was not accustomed to getting in her previous life. Every time she looked into my eyes with such great sparkling joy and happiness it just touched my heart so deeply as she glowed. This little girl, once an orphan, felt like the luckiest person in the world to have a family and have the things we take for granted every day. I had to turn my head away and cry in the dark theater. It was precious and I fell even more deeply in love with her as she appreciated her wonderful treat in a way our other spoiled all American kids did not.

I had also bought Katie and Karissa a pair of new shoes earlier in the day. I noticed Karissa just ignored her shoes and accepted them as common. Katie would turn her foot from side to side and admire the sparkle of her new shoes. She noticed me watching her admire her shoes and she leaned over and said "They are so beautiful....thank you pretty Mommy...I love you!!!" Now how sweet was that??? We take so much for granted and the things we get as common place. Katie Aunna has again touched my heart and brought about change in me. I want to have that type of gratitude and appreciation for all things, great and small, in my life.

Now another amazing thing for Katie Aunna tonight happened in the theater bathroom!!! Katie had to go potty and so I took her to the girl's room. The toilet was dirty and she said "Yuck, Mommy, it's dirty" and so I did the gross thing.....put her on the sink to tinkle;-). I had not noticed that the faucet was an automatic turn on with motion. So, just as she began to go to the bathroom, the water turned on. She screamed as this took her so much by surprise. She and I just cracked up laughing together and so I splashed her bottom clean and lifted her down to dry her bottom.

When I turned around to get some toilet tissue she stepped back and her head grazed the sensor for the hand dryer and it began to blow. Of course, this brought forth another round of screaming laughter. All she could do was laugh and talk about the auto sink and auto dryer being accidentally set off by her potty break. I laughed until the tears rolled down my face. I picked her up and drew her close to me and whispered "Thank you, Dear God, for my Katie Aunna!!!"

On to more serious matters.....Katie Aunna is having her tonsils and adenoids removed Friday morning. We will be going over to Lubbock tomorrow evening. I dread this so much as the one thing she has bad feelings about is the surgery done on her arm in Russia. She has discussed with me many times that NO ONE stayed with her in the hospital and she was so scared and in a lot of pain. No visitors came to see her, no family to comfort her, and she was truly all alone. She has asked me many times if we will leave her there or if she will be able to go home. Please pray for Katie's health, recovery, and confidence in us that we will not leave her side.

Thanks for laughing and maybe crying with me tonight. I greatly appreciate your prayers for her as well. I'll let you know how she does Friday evening when we return home. Many blessings to you all!!!!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Well....I must say that it is a beautiful country!!! I have had some difficult feelings about Switzerland regarding their neutrality policy and the fact that they are often given liberties in regard to international adoption. However, it was beautiful and no matter where Duane and I would have gone, the alone time was fabulous. This is the first time we have left the country without adopting a child. Actually, I take that back....we did go to Hong Kong in 1978 with my parents. It was a very wonderful time spent together. This trip to Switzerland was short and sweet. My sister and her husband went with us and it was such great fun. I have enjoyed my friend's blogs with the flash pictures and so I will use that to allow for an easier time in viewing the photos I took of Switzerland. I hope you enjoy them!!!!