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Friday, December 2, 2016

Art Masterpeice

I received a surprise gift in the mail last week. Art work. You know the kind that little kiddos bring home from school and are proudly hung on the refrigerator with magnetized plastic letters. The least valuable and yet the most valuable type of artwork ever because it was made by precious little hands.
Yes, that's exactly what I got, but this one was made halfway across the world by little hands that belong to a boy that my heart has already fallen for hook line and sinker.

I opened up the envelope and literally gasped. My son knows how to do origami, and he knows how to do it very well thank you very much! Much better than anyone else in the Crazy House!
Do you see the fish? And the little bubbles?! And if you look closely he drew what I assume is seaweed coming up from the bottom! I'm pretty impressed with this amazing and talented this child is already! I see multiple packets of 6" pieces of paper being packed in our suitcase too!
Thank you so very much to our friend, Kelly, who was with our boy in China in October and took video of him creating this treasured piece of art, saved it, and carried hack half way across the world. At the time, she had no idea that we were going to match with this child the following week and saved it... unknowingly for us.

God weaves families in amazing ways!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Clubfoot Relapse Treatment - The final chapter (hopefully)

Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,  and 7 are here. 

A year ago at this time, Jude was in a wheel chair and re-learning how to walk. His muscles had atrophied quite a bit in those months of treatment and casting, and learning how to walk again, regaining his strength and building muscles up was going to take longer than we thought. There's a wheelchair in the back ground of this video. Watching this video is tough for me. In the moment I was just a mama walking along side my child, helping him every way I could. But now there's plenty of time to reflect on how amazing my son is he and how far he has come! Did I mention how amazing Jude is! He is! He had only been out of full leg casts for less than 24 hours when I took this video, and it was the first time he had any weight baring on his legs in a couple months. My boy is so crazy brave and wonderful! 
And by the way, during all the treatment, casting and surgery, he missed the spring baseball season, and he was seriously pretty broken up about it because baseball to him is the end all be all!

A year later, lots of work and physical therapy and here he is now!
(In the red helmet at bat) 
When we adopted a child with a special needs, we always go into it expecting the worst case scenario.  If we choose special needs adoption as a way to grow our family, we absolutely must be prepared for it. Did I envision myself doing 2 sets of club foot treatment and flying across the United States by myself with our son for numerous visits to our orthopedic surgeon. No, I didn't. But it's what we needed to do. It was what we needed to do for our son so that in hind sight, no matter what the out come is, we can look back and know that we did all we could for his feet and his future. 
As adoptive mamas we must be prepared for the worst case scenario, financially, emotionally, logistically. Club foot is considered by many to be a minor and correctable special need, a relatively quick and easy fix, then it's done. I will tell you that we did everything right, to the letter, and still this kiddo relapsed... again. It's not always easy or quick. And that's the reality that we must be aware of and commit to when we say yes to the child. 
I was laughing at myself when I read this talking about how the outcome of Jude's clubfoot treatment is a best case scenario. Little did I know! Little did I know that he'd relapse, which even with the best follow through, this is always a possibility for our club feet kiddos, and we'd do about a year of PT to recover from it.
It's now16 months later and we still plan on continuing PT through the end of the year. But I think we are finally approaching the end of this most recent clubfoot relapse treatment journey. And honestly I'm ready for it to be over. Maybe he'll relapse again. Hopefully not. But if he does, we'll joyfully do everything in our power again to treat and help him recover.  We are crazy blessed that we have the resources to do that. 8 years ago we said yes to this child and everything that would come. My son is amazing, brave and strong. And I am blessed to have the privilege to have him as a son and a better mama and a better woman because of him.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Family Faves (Grammy's apple pie)

Photo creds go to Kate Eschbach Photography.
Katie and I had such a fun time making pies rotogether! Thank you sweet friend for the memories! 

I remember one time that I was in college visiting home. I hadn't been moved away from home very long, and I remember being especially homesick on this visit. I was homesick a lot when I first moved out of my home to college. I missed my parents, my house, my hometown and mom's cooking. I missed everything! Papa and I went to college together, and that helped, but still I was so homesick for so very long time. Actually that homesickness never really went away, but eventually it morphed into kind of an appreciation for home and childhood tucked away in a little hole in my heart that will never be filled. But on that day I went home, I remember asking my mom for some of my favorite recipes. This apple pie recipe is the first recipe that I ever included in my own recipe book, scribbled haphazardly onto a post-it note as my mom told it to me. It's one of those recipes that hadn't been written down until that moment seeing it was all in her head. My mom would probably tell you that she's not that good a cook, but I disagree. That apple pie proved it long ago! We have this pie every thanksgiving since it's a fabulous alternative to pumpkin pie, and this thanksgiving will be no exception! It has a wonderful fresh tart and sweet apple filling with the most wonderful sweet crumble crust. And it's easy. It's so easy it's one of the first recipes that I taught my daughters how to make.

For Sunny, who is now compiling her own recipe book and making her own apple pie in her own own home for The Airman, here you go, sweet wonderful daughter! We will miss you this Thanksgiving, so this is for you! Think of us when you eat the apple pie, and I'll definitely be thinking of you!

Grammy's Apple Pie with Crumble Crust

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

  • 1 store bought pie crust. Prick the bottom with a folk, then bake empty at 350 degree and take it out just as it starts to turn golden brown. 
  • 5-7 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 c. sugar
  • cinnamon
  • 3/4 c flour
  • 1/2+ c butter

In a large mixing bowl, mix sliced apple with 1/2 c sugar and sprinkle in cinnamon. Pour apple mixture into the pre-baked pie shell. Dot apples with butter. 
In a separate mixing bowl, combine flour, butter remaining sugar, by cutting the butter into the four and sugar with a fork until the mixture is the consistency of a crumble throughout. Pile the crumble mixture on top of the apples, using your hands to gentle guide and pat the mixture onto the sides on the mound of apples. 
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Increase oven temp to 450 degrees and bake until the pie is golden brown on top, about 10 more minutes. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Clubfoot Relapse Treatment - Part 7

It has been a while I've updated you on Jude's feet. 
Here's parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 that tell how we got to this point. 
Not that you were wondering, but in case there are any other club foot mamas reading or those considering adopting a kiddo with clubfoot, I wanted to keep you up on this brave boy's clubfoot journey. I wanted to share where it all stands now. Surprisingly 14 months after we started treatment we are still in physical therapy!

This is how it started back in September last year, and parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 are here. But this time our club foot treatment it's like the gift that keep on giving because we're still hard at work and Jude is STILL in physical therapy many months after we thoughts we'd be done. In December 2015-April 2016, we had a therapist that was good, but he didn't have enough experience with children. So Jude made progress but couldn't get back the last bits of strength and endurance he had prior to treatment. Both Jude and I were totally burnt out on physical therapy, so we took a break from it through the summer and resumed with a new physical therapy office that just for kids in August. And it's just what Jude needed. He's a kid. He needs to have fun to be truly inspired to work! And fun is just what he's having! In the last 3 months, his therapist Christina has been stretching and "playing" games with Jude once per week and finally we can see the light at the end of the tunnel!
They start with some stretching...
Apparently playing games on mom's cell phone make it easier to stretch more with less resistance
And then they move on to the fun and games, like balancing on a "log" while pulling yourself along.
Or walking heal to toe on a straight (ish) line.
Or seeing how high Jude can jump up!
Or swinging into the ball pit!
Seriously, physical therapy is one of the highlights of Jude's week! He really looks forward to it! And every other day of the week we follow up with daily stretching and exercises at home that aren't nearly so fun. He's made fabulous progress and is getting back the last bits of strength muscle tone.
Soon the scars on his feet are the only reminders of his most relapse. Well that and the wheel chair that's gathering dust in the garage. We are so crazy lucky that we have to resources to help our son be a plain ol' normal boy!

Click here for the final chapter

Sunday, November 13, 2016

3+1=A whole new adventure!

I needed a picture of the 3 little ones for something special. I mean I had a photo of the 3 youngest children, but it was kinda dated. And I had this one, but... it's... well... it's kinda scary in a crazy way. So one morning before school I hurried them outside before we got in the car for school and told them to sit down for a quick picture. That's when Mimi held her arm out like she is doing in the below picture. I couldn't figure out what she was doing, or why she was doing it.

Mom:  Mimi, put you arm in, okay?
Mimi:  But mom, I'm putting my arm around my new brother!
And right then and there my heart melted a little bit more. She's already incorporating her new brother into her family!

The littles are excited to have a new brother. But they are also unsure of how that will actually play itself out. These 3 are as thick as thieves, and keeping it real, I'm not sure how a new little person will fit into their little pack. I know these wonderfully-made children really have little to no idea what is to come with the adoption on their new brother. Heck, we don't even know what is to come! But for now, they are embracing the idea of their new brother with joy and open hearts... and literally with their open arms. And that's a great start! It's our job to prepare them for the reality of what may come... something that does not involve an easy journey for us or for them but ends with redemption and an amazing heart. We take that job very seriously, but we're sure that this is the right thing to do and committed to doing everything in our power to prepare all ourselves and our children for this new adoption journey.
So why did I need a new photos of these 3 loves? Well I needed it to send to our new little dude! (Who still does not have a name, although this name discussion is ongoing every day in the crazy house!) Probably today or tomorrow he's being told that he has a forever family waiting for him and shown the family pictures I sent over... including this very picture of his new brothers and sisters. And that's pretty huge in my book!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Crazy 10?

Oh yeah, baby!

Let's just cut to the chase... this family is moving on it's it's journey of growth and change, and we are officially going to become the Crazy 10!
See that ginormous pile of papers? That's our China adoption dossier. After this, we did finish all the paperwork, but when it was done, it sat on my desk for a long while. Literally, this precious pile of papers sat on my desk and gathered dust. We weren't sure what to do with it. We weren't sure if we should adopt and if we should who. Little ones who are available for China special-needs adoption are listed on the www and advocated for in a myriad of ways. I saw them over and over, but just didn't know if one of them was meant to be ours. We had a variety of special needs that we felt comfortable with but figuring out if we should pursue adopting one of these kiddos wasn't clear. It wasn't clear at all.
And then...
one day...
I saw him.
And it was him!
I cannot tell you specifically what it was about him that made me know it was him. But it was. And in reality I didn't know for a long while that this child was the one. But I did know that from the very first moment that I saw him, that I just could not get him out of my thoughts. Or my heart. He was a part of me from the very first moment I laid eyes on him. As the days passed, his photo showed up in my dreams, and he was in the forefront of my thoughts much of my days. He was within our age parameters, but his special need wasn't something that we really knew anything about, and even after (trying to) research his rare medical condition with a lifetime of unknowns, we still didn't know if this little dude was the little dude that was suppose to be our son.

Then we took this trip, and it provided a lot of much needed time for Papa and I to talk. And something happened. It just became clear. This little one was the one!

I really don't know how to say it. Most of the time, it's just too profound for me to find adequate words to explain it all. It's so big. It's more than me or Papa, and more than any cause that we believe in. Added together, it's more than the sum of each of us in this family. It's a life, a life half way around the world that needs to know his forever, and we're ridiculously crazy excited to give it to him.

I feel like there's so much I should say, (and I will! I have so very much to share, like his picture, where he is and how amazing and cute he is.) But for now, the big thing I want to say is that it's official! We're adopting again! We are adding a son to this crazy wonderful family of ours! We have been matched with a child halfway across the world in China, and we can hardly wait to show him what his forever looks like.

To be continued...

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Halloween, or in other words...

...Little Red Riding Hood flanked by her two bodyguard ninjas! 
I figured there was no way we were going to top last years costumes, so we didn't even try and just got store-bought, what-ever-was-left-on-the-rack costumes in the 11th hour. There are years that really, that is just the best strategy for a sane and pleasant mama. And the kiddos really didn't seem to care one way or the other.

ps-the pose on Little Red... as compared to her sister's pose on Mimi's right... they are so very different and I love them for it!

Monday, October 31, 2016

4 days later we finally made it to Granna's house!

So... yeah... I've been horribly neglectful with the blog lately. I'm sorry. But there's a reason. And it's kinda a big huge monumental reason. But because, (adding insult to injury) I can't even tell you what that reason is yet., and becuase I don't want to risk teasing y'all, (too late! I know!) I guess I should just get on with the business of catching up with life at the crazy house. 

We took a surprise trip to San Diego with the little ones. (Big ones were all wrangled away in various places.) We told them we were going to dinner at Granna and Grandpa's house (15 minutes up the street) and 6 hours later and a story about how we got SO lost on the way there, they still hadn't figured it out. So we did what all normal people do when they get lost on the way to Granna and Grandpa's house,  we got a hotel room. They were so excited when we pulled up to the Sand Diego Wildlife Safari park! Surprise little ones! It was a great day! 

So then we told Jude, Tess and Mimi that we would spend the night in a hotel one more night and head home the next morning. Much to their surprise we ended up at the Legoland Hotel! Seriously those 3 kids thought LegoLand Hotel was the BEST thing in the whole world, and it never dawned on them that we might actually go to Legoland the next morning. Jude kept adamantly telling Tess, We can't go to Legoland, Tess! We're in California! Evidently he thought Legoland was in Ohio. Again they were so excited and surprised. 

Lastly, we did it one more time, and drove to Sea World, which they loved as much as Legoland, and told them that really, this time, we were really driving home. We ended up driving to Granna and Grandpa's house where they had dinner. It was a great little trip for all 5 of us! 
Purposefully, I didn't take my camera out much. I wanted to be with them. A few pics at the Safari Park and a few in the hotel room, but that was it. I tried really hard to let go of the pics and even indulged letting Legoland and the Safari Park take some for us. Looking back on them, I wish I had taken more pics. These don't seem to represent the fun we had. But I did LOVE being with the kiddos intentionally for the trip and not worrying about the big-girl camera.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The last of summer in Paradise

Every summer ends with our annual picnic to our favorite place near Little Cabin in the Woods. Paradise Creek on the Apache indian reservation. It literally is our paradise. 

Goodbye, summer. See you again soon! 

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