Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Here we go again...

For the past 10 days or so, we have watched Gracie turn colors once again. She's pretty blue most of the time, she's throwing up again, she's really clingy to Mom. We had three full months of excellent health, then all of sudden, while we were in Florida actually, she began to turn blue. At first we thought, perhaps she's just not getting enough sleep, maybe it's the climate...talking ourselves into all of these other great options.

This is a tough one to watch, a tough one to swallow. It is taking us a bit by surprise, yet we know it is not taking God by surprise. I don't think any doctor who follows her case is going to be taken by surprise either. Why, oh why, oh why?? When Gracie was still in St. Louis as a young infant, several doctors actually tried to talk us out of adopting her...can you even imagine?? I can't wrap my mind around this because Gracie is our daughter through and through, yet I know they watched us, feeling as if they had to let us know what her life would be like. In reality, they knew nothing. God has revealed an amazing, obvious miracle to us through her, we wouldn't change a day of her sweet little life so far. What I'm getting at is this...Gracie has a very serious heart disease which is and is going to be a constant battle. We enjoyed a little reprieve, praise God for that, but we must continue to trust the ONE who created this being and placed her in our arms.

It's odd because when we go into the uncertainty of what's next for Gracie, it is when my life is seriously most peaceful. I am quiet before the Lord, I know He has us in His grip, I know He knows Gracie's days and His desire for our family is for good. He is good. Many, many days, especially when Gracie was very little, I wanted to watch Him be big. I wanted to witness the miraculous, I wanted her healed perfectly. Although I still desire those things because I love her so much, I really just want to know Him better...I want Him to invade our family...I want us all to trust Him with not only Gracie's life, but with all of our lives.

I don't want anyone to freak out. Gracie is blue, but she's been here before. We're just starting the ride again...she's not in any state of emergency, just in a downward trend. On May 4, we have a long day at Mayo with tests and visits with her cardiologist and cardiac-thorasic surgeon. Then on the 5th, she will have some stents placed in her pulmonary artery. Because of this scheduling long ago, my guess is the doctors already knew this was going to happen. Then we will talk about what is next.

Children with hypoplastic left or right hearts typically have a procedure done called the fontan, which is the third in a series of three surgeries. Gracie has now had the first two typical surgeries--a BT shunt and the Glenn shunt. Now they will decide if she will be a candidate for the fontan. She does have a hypoplastic heart (we don't know which one...not everyone is in agreement because of her heterotaxy syndrome, her organs are all misplaced), but because of her other defects, the fontan may not be an option, it may not be a good option. For heterotaxy patients, it has had some success, but definitely hasn't worked out for many. This is where we just allow the doctors to be the doctors and we are Gracie's parents. I found out early on that I read way too much! For the past year or so, I have completely stopped reading about these things because, for one thing, I am not that smart. And another, Gracie's doctors are amazingly smart! God has given them much, much wisdom and completely has guided their hands...He's the One who is control, the author of her book!

I will try to take some pictures today of Gracie. She's beautiful...blue and all! Her favorite song is still "I'm so blue..." by Madame Blueberry (VeggieTales). If I could figure out how to put a video on here, you would all be blessed to hear her rendition...right, Sara?? Maybe my techie sons could help me...hmmm.

All else is well around here. We spent the weekend in Des Moines because Curtis had a conference there. I never think of our family as being a large one...UNTIL we go our for dinner or shopping!! Five kids shopping for 7 hours--yikes! Actually four of our kids are super easy and lots of fun to shop with. Then we have Gracie. Oh my!!

Have a wonderful day!!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Home sweet home!

One movie theater size box of Hot Tamales, one king-size package of all red Starbursts, 3...yeah 3 king size Strawberry Tangy Taffys, 2 packages (1,000,000) sunflower seeds, french fries, onion rings, burger, chicken sandwich, 2 Diet Cokes, 4 waters = 21 hours in the car! I love traveling, love driving...I just cannot be a truck driver because I would be humungous! I drive, therefore I eat...and eat...then eat some more. Why does my mouth always have to be moving??? If I'm not talking, I'm eating...one of the breakthroughs I realized on our drive home.

Our vacation was perfect...almost perfect. We did have one pretty serious episode with one of our children in which our loving, embracing God intervened and rescued this child. I want to protect the privacy of my children, especially when one of them mentions, "you aren't putting this on the blog, are you?", but I also want the world to know that God is still performing miracles, He is still healing, He is still rescuing, and He still desires our lives are good and abundant. We had a brush with death this past week--it still leaves me shivering and full of tears as I even think of what I could be doing today...YET GOD RESCUED MY CHILD! I praise Him! I cannot get this picture out of my mind...He has yet left another fingerprint on our family...we have witnessed Him so lovingly and so mightily once again. I have NO DOUBT in my mind...I have evidence that is proclaiming His goodness. How I want to share the details...but cannot.

We celebrated Derek's 17th birthday on the 18th...what a beautiful journey this young man is taking us on. He is a joy!! A complete joy!! I know...we all think our kids are the greatest (but mine really is), we all see their potential, their gifts. Since it's his birthday and all, I feel quite OK bragging on him a bit. He is loving and kind, smart and creative. He has such a gentleness to him, yet a competetive spirit that will ensure success. Mostly, he is following hard after Jesus, which is not always an easy task in this world. We are so proud of the choices he makes and look forward to watching what he is going to do with the rest of his life--we know he can do whatever he desires because the ONE in whom Derek places his trust in is the giver of Derek's desires. Psalm 37:4 I love March 18 because it is the day Curtis and I entered into this life of parenthood!!

Selah is thrilled to be home...completely thrilled. When she first noticed we were pulling into our neighborhood, she howled LOUDLY! When we ask her what her favorite part of Florida was, she replies, "being with my whole family". That's all she has wanted...a family...that's it. Her dream has come true and she cannot understand why we would leave home to go anywhere else--she is living her dream. What fun to be a part of something so incredible. I so wish anyone considering adoption, especially adoption of an older child, to hear this little girl's prayers. It goes like this...
"Dear God, thank you for family. Thank you for my whole family, Mommy, Daddy, Derek, Connor, Breuklyn, Selah, Gracie, Molly, Kota, Red, the barn cats. Thank you, God, for making Gracie's owies better. Thank you for meat, thank you for jumping on the trampoline, thank you for Daddy giving piggy back rides, thank you for Mrs, Boggess and Mrs. Henniger, thank you, God for church, for friends. I no like the wind. It scare me. Gracie really naughty. She scream, she throw things, she messy." It really goes on and on and lists everything we do all day long...then she peeks to see if Curtis and I have our eyes closed and says "Amen.". Tonight, I had to bury my face in the mattress because I was laughing out loud when she started tattling on Gracie to God. I know it must bring Him great joy to hear her sweet prayers. Maybe He'll work on Gracie's behavior???

Gracie is seriously 20 pounds of complete cuteness! We are just eating her up...it could explain the behaviors! She cannot speak, but totally makes up for it in expression. The faces this child makes are so stinkin' cute!!

I don't think any of the kids are quite ready to go back to school. We would've all loved to stay in Florida for a couple more weeks...Curtis said that is not an option...bummer. I am really excited for Derek's first track meet on Tuesday--how fun! Tomorrow Breuklyn and I have a little date with our friends from horseback--we can't wait. Connor has been out golfing twice since we arrived home yesterday--I'm pretty sure that's where we'll find him every day after school. Life is good.

Monday, March 16, 2009

So far, so amazing!

Our first few days of spring break have been amazing...oh, so fun! We arrived in Orlando just 22 hours after exiting our driveway...that has to be a record! We drove through the night and the kids did great. Gracie is an amazing little traveler! She didn't sleep much, but Bob and Larry kept us all entertained for probably 16 of the 22 hours! I took the night shift...one would think that would be a quiet time to drive--not so much! Gracie stayed up with me until 2:00 am. This is the child who is in bed sleeping by 7 each night. Derek and Connor were night owls with me as well. Curtis and Selah snoozed! Selah nods off on the way to school in the morning--there is something about motion and sleep with her.

We spent Friday afternoon and all of Saturday just enjoying this beautiful house we are renting. It has a fantastic pool area and lots of space--it's really quite nice. Then on Sunday we ventured out to Discovery Cove, where Curtis and the three older kids swam with the dolphins. We also snorkeled and played with stingrays. Discovery Cove has an incredible Aviary. Someone told us to go there first...I'm not a bird lover, so I'm thinking it would be kind of boring...NOT AT ALL! The birds captured our kids, all of them but Gracie. She was freaked out, completely freaked out!

Then today we went to Clearwater Beach and enjoyed the waves and the sand. The older three kids and I went parasailing...that was quite a ride!

Today is the day two years ago that we said "good-bye" to our sweet little Gracie. To think she's the little one on the beach searching for shells and showing every stranger, to watch her giggling when the waves climbed up her belly, to be on the receiving end of her perfect little smooches...we have been given such a gift, such an amazing miracle. If you haven't ever read Gracie's story, check out journeytome.com and look under the public stories of journey to gracie yan and he fubai. The month of March 2007 was a time in which we, as a family watched God work so obviously and mightily...we are reminded of this each day, each morning as we greet Gracie for the day. He still heals, He still is performing miracles...our God is mighty! I continue to be amazed! Today we talked of our trip to Florida last year--at 16 months, Gracie wasn't mobile, she was still very much a baby. This year, Gracie is 2, every bit 2! She was a pill at the restaurant, she was entertaining on the beach, she ate sand...not once, but twice, she has the most adorable little body, the most kissable toes--we are amazed!

Selah isn't sure what to think about vacation. She was super excited to go to "Forilda", but when we arrived seemed a bit nervous. She asked if we were going back to Mommy's house and yesterday when I woke her up for Discovery Cove, she asked if it was time to go home. Today is better. She is afraid of everything here, completely out of her comfort zone, yet trusting us, holding tightly to us, knowing we will take care of her. She is still safe...just unsure of what's next. We get so excited for something different. Selah has found out home is a pretty great place to be...why leave?
We are really seeing how our lives have changed these past few years. Our older three kids are awesome vacationers! They love to just relax, they love touring things, easy to entertain. Often times, Curtis and I are seeing it is the two of us with Selah and Gracie and the other three are off on an adventure. How simple, how fun would all of these adventures be...but then we see those huge dimples on Gracie's face, we see the light in Selah's eyes. We watch Derek holding onto Gracie with such tenderness, we see Connor in the pool encouraging Selah to swim, we see Breuklyn teaching, loving, and being such a caregiver to her sisters. These children are such blessings...they are all amazing, each one of them.

Have a wonderful night!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Packing, packing, unpacking...trying to pack...

Wow, do I ever have a lot of help!! I pack, Gracie unpacks, I place in suitcase, Gracie empties drawers...I shove remaining clothes in drawers realizing that in 3 years clothing may stay folded. For now, it just gets thrown on the floor, smushed somewhere, even found in the garbage can! I don't remember our other kids being such DISASTERS around the house. Did I forget? Am I just too old to keep up? Or were they perfect children??

I have no words to even describe the level of excitement in Selah's heart right now. She is blown away that she won't have to go to school, Dad won't have to work (how will we have any money, she asks), it's going to be HOT--yippee!--AND we get lots of snacks. Mainly she is thrilled that we are going to be with our whole family for 10 days! Our whole family!! Could it get any better than that?? We'll let you know...

We are driving to Florida--from Iowa--with five kids--one of them is two! Gracie had never been given the go-ahead to fly until last month. By then, we couldn't find a great deal on flights, so we are packing up the Suburban and going to enjoy some close quarters. If our family grows any more, we are going to need a BUS!

Well, my brief moment of quiet is over...Gracie is pounding on the locked door!

Better run...


Sunday, March 8, 2009

It's Official...I'm a blogger!

OK...I decided this is going to work! I so love journey to me...really love it. It's fun to check out other adoption stories, it's fun to have them all at one place, and it's so simple to use! In China, I had no problem updating the site when Selah joined our family...I'm so grateful to have our adoption stories all written out.

This will possibly be the most boring blog ever--I love to write, but I am a computer IDIOT!! Seriously. This is a huge leap for me...and a challenge.

On to life...things are good, really good. Gracie continues to feel very well and is staying quite pink! What a little muffin! Along with good health comes a super dose of naughtiness. Although frustrating at times, she is hilarious. We find ourselves, as a family of seven, captivated by her antics. Sometimes we are all found just sitting on the couch laughing at her moves--she loves to dance and loves to sing...when she knows she has our attention, she plays it up even more.

And Selah...she continues to figure out life in a family. Her acquisition of language has been phenomenal! She talks a mile a minute...with about 90% accuracy! At times, we are in "silent" stitches over her as well. It's pretty fun to listen to what she comes up with. Her life experiences are so incredibly different than ours--things we've watched since we were toddlers, she has had no exposure to EVER. In the orphanage, she never picked out what she was going to wear, she had no choices as to what food, if any, was available. She didn't go to the park, she didn't go to the grocery store, she has never been fishing or walked through the woods...nothing. She was never read to or realized an outside world, leaving her with a very small vocabulary, a very small world to think from. Concepts such as aging...she's completely clueless. She still doesn't believe she was ever a baby, nor that I was. Time is irrelevant.

Breuklyn has been back to riding...finally! We have had so much snow and ice this winter, she hasn't had the opportunity to ride for quite sometime. It has been fun to have her back in the saddle. Each day after school, our sweet, sweet bus driver drops her off at the barn (usually with a snack) and Breuklyn spends the next couple of hours cleaning and playing. We took one of the stalls, cleaned it up and put in a floor, and turned it into a toy room for the little girls. It works out pretty well.

Connor finished his basketball season yesterday...he had a great year. His knees have been bothering him quite a bit, but seem to be doing better since the school practices ended. He is supposed to rest them...that means no track! Bummer. In a few weeks, I'm sure we'll be finding him daily at the golf course!

And Derek runs. He runs and runs and runs. He is loving track and traded his golf clubs for running shoes this year. Derek LOVED cross country this year and has decided to go out for track this spring instead of golf. It shocked us...seriously. He decided he can golf forever. I think it has been a good choice...I can't believe how much he's been running and how much he really loves it.

Our family is heading to Florida for some much needed sunshine on Thursday. I'm not sure our tropical girl will want to come home! :) We are going to have a lazy week of just warming up...it should be super fun.

I need to take more photos! I have none for the past couple of weeks...maybe I'll pull out the camera this afternoon! Until then...have a wonderful Sunday!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

what's up?

I'm really trying to figure this out!