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Monday, June 26, 2017

Still learning from my children and crappy stuff moms have to endure

This story is almost a year old now.
But I wanted to make sure the he was okay with me sharing it. I wanted to give him some time to process it and see how it was going to play out before I put it out there for all to see. Almost a year later, ups and downs, he says it's okay if I put it out there to help anyone else in his shoes, or help mamas that are trying to help kiddos that are dealing with this too. And that shows me that he really is the most amazing kid ever and that I'm the lucky one that gets to be his mama.

First a little about Boo. He's 14 years old, #4 of the our 8 and the quintessential middle child. He was the last of my children that I gave birth to and at 10 lbs in a 45 minute labor I think it makes sense why. As a young child he was a total cuddle-bug and in his heart I think he still is. Boo is easy and rarely makes a fuss. He's works hard and (usually) does his chores with minimal nagging from his mama. This year he built his own computer and of course we knew that was something he'd need help with. Because 14 year olds don't inherently know how to build computers, right? Turns out the only help he needed was a ride to the electronics store. He's always been my healthiest kiddo. He is a quiet guy, but when he does talk you want to be sure to listen. He's wanted to be an engineer for a long while, (not sure what type yet) and when I have trouble figuring out the remote control to the TV or with phone apps ('cause I'm getting old, y'all, and that's what happens to old people!) he's the one that figures them out for me. This year puberty hit Boo with hurricane force, and not only did his hair get totally curly, but he sprung up to 6'2"... so far... and he's not even in high school yet. Most folks think he's older than he is, and yes, we really do still call him Boo.

Puberty can be a bear. I remember those early years being all knock-kneed and awkward. I remember a single pimple having the power to destroy my day and my confidence. I'm not sure Boo is any different on the inside, but from the outside it certainly doesn't appear that way. This young man is confident and takes the strikes puberty has dealt him in stride. He told me recently, It is what it, Mom. Worrying and stressing isn't going to change it. And again I'm reminded that there is so very much I can learn from my children. 

So this is actually a post about acne.
Boo and acne.
And how I wanna be more like him.
In August-September of 2016 I first started to noticed his acne getting worse. But puberty, right? It's to be expected... a season of life we must all endure. It was also the season of The Black Mold Vacay 2016, and surprisingly in the blistering heat and a lazy river, Boo didn't want to swim at all. His big sister, Livy, intervened and was able to coax out of him that the acne on his back and chest was getting bad, and he was self-conscience about it. But puberty, right? A quick trip to get him a swim top solved the problem... temporarily. But it was my visual first glimpse at what looked like the most severe acne that I had never seen. But puberty, right?

By October I noticed Boo's acne spreading up his neck and face, in other words places it's no longer cover-up-able. I witnessed my son starting to walk and sit uncomfortably, stiffly with rounded shoulders, no longer able to put his confident shoulders back because it hurt his chest. It broke my heart when my big cuddle bug flinched as I tried to hug him. But puberty, right? Then I started to notice specs of blood on his sheets, pillow cases and even more on his t-shirts. And when I did catch a glimpse of him bare chested I won't lie I cringed, but he seemed to be taking it all in stride. Still it was time to see the doctor to see if this was something more than just puberty. Our family doctor diagnosed Boo with cystic and nodular acne. In his words, the worst he'd ever seen. We tried regular antibiotics, 2 weeks in warm air and salt water, and lots of other stuff. None of it helped and actually it just kept getting worse. Dr #2 started Boo on Accutane in January 2017, which he easily qualified for. Accutane requires monthly doctor visits and blood draws and still Boo took it all in stride. By mid February the blood-speckled linens became large blood-soaked areas, which I was changing daily.

Fast-forward to now... We're still dealing with it. Boo's white blood cell count had been high for months. He doesn't sleep well at all. He has been on steroids for months (and also something to combat the side effects of steroids) to try and clear up the inflammation. Thankfully we're weaning him off those. Dr #3 (Dr #2 became uncomfortable continuing his care as all this escalated) stumbled across a staff infection underneath it all that had probably been hanging around 2-3 months. Boo seems to be on one antibiotic after another and I eventually bought him a pill organizer to keep track of all he's on. He is in mild pain 24/7 and touching him, an arm around his shoulders or a hug, is out of the question. Even wearing a t-shirt is uncomfortable but buttons and collars especially are irritating, which of course is part of his school uniform. His Accutane dosage has been reduced significantly. Physically he wasn't doing well, but most of the time mentally he seems to carry on with life as normal.
Per an agreement I have with all my teenagers, this pic is edited to reduce the acne. 
I'm not sure why I bring this all up except to say that for crying out loud this is crappy for a mama to witness and powerless to fix! Especially for a kid that rarely complains. I'd love some tips from some other cystic/nodular acne mamas on how to help him through this. The good news is that we do feel the acne is getting better, and praying the staff infection is under control by next week. I feel guilty for not getting him to the right doctors faster and making appointments sooner, but my head kept wondering... but puberty, right? No, not really. I'm so thankfully for the community and kids that we're surrounded with that haven't made a big deal about it. I'm thankful we live in a big city with a lot of resources. But most of all I'm thankful for a young man that makes my heart swell with pride by the way he's handling it.

Thanks to my children I'm still taking notes on the life lessons they teach me, this time on how to handle the hard stuff in my life that I can't change.
Thank you for teaching me that, Boo.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Our favorite (dirty) feet on the planet

Jude is amazing.

He's taken everything in stride, and I think he even has a bit of pride about his scars, that sense of I did this and not only am I okay, but I'm better and I love who I am! And of course I can't disagree with him. He is awesome and a wonderfully-made, treasured son even from the very beginning.

Jude was born in a hospital in SaiGon, VietNam in 2007 with congenital talipes equinovarus, otherwise known as bilateral club foot. He was abandon in the hospital, and an orphanage became his home. When he was around 6 months old Jude was treated with bilateral casting to correct his deformed feet.  And also around this time we were sitting at our computer half way across the world seeing his picture for the first time! And we knew he was the child we we had been aching for.

Jude's feet were corrected, but unfortunately the care in an orphanage is often less than optimal, and Jude's feet quickly reverted to their original deformed position when the orphanage refused to have him wear the braces necessary after correction. And this was the wonderfully-made, gorgeous 13-month-old baby we lovingly received into our hearts and our family in 2008.
Our son.
Our beloved Jude.

Within days of getting home, we started treatment again with a local pediatric orthopedic surgeon. From my research I knew that the Ponsetti method of treatment was the best for him, and of course we wanted the best for our son. Unfortunately there were no Ponsetti certified doctors in our area much less ones that were trained in treating older children, (and 13 months old absolutely is an older child in the land of club foot treatment) and although he wasn't certified, this doctor seemed to be well-versed and experienced in the Ponsetti method, not to mention that he was conveniently located in our city and really seemed like he wanted the best for our son. We proceeded with treatment and Jude's club feet were corrected for a second time in about 3 months. He was walking about 5 months later and remained in night-time braces until age 5 1/2. We were pretty sure we did everything right, and Jude's club feet journey was done. We gladly put our club feet journey in our past and watched Jude grow into an amazing, sensitive, smart and athletic boy! But God's plan was different than the one we were counting on, and just after Jude turned 8 years old, despite following every protocol to the letter, his feet relapsed again.

This time we put a lot more research into doctors and insisted on having a Ponsetti certified doctor. What I quickly learned is that although many well meaning doctors say they treat club foot and even if they are Ponsetti certified, there are very very very few doctors in the United States (the world actually) that successfully treat club feet in older children with long-term success. I read many many scenarios about club foot kiddos that had unnecessary surgeries or didn't have the importance of bracing explained to them, and children that had unnecessary relapses becuase of it. A 2 year old with corrected club-foot child has an 80% chance of relapsing if they discontinue wearing braces at night! A 3 year old a 40% chance of relapsing and a 4 year old a 15% chance! Yet time and time again I heard stories of doctors saying it was okay to discontinue bracing prior to age 5 and/or do surgeries that were against protocol. Now I don't think these doctors are bad, in fact I think these doctors are well meaning and think they have the skills, but the Ponsetti method "is very precise and requires great attention to detail." Treating older children (older then infants) with club foot is a very different skill set than treating newborns and infants, even for Ponsetti certified doctors. And becuase we didn't want to look back with regret, we decided to only see Dr. Morcuende in Iowa or Dr. Dobbs in Missouri for our son's 3rd clubfoot treatment. Both these doctors were trained by Dr. Ponsetti himself and are the world's leaders in club foot treatment, especially for older children and more complex treatment. I'm going to beg you here, and maybe even say something controversial, but from a mama that has been there and done that and made the mistake of selecting a doctor based on cost and convenience only to have her son relapse later, if you are adopting a child that is older than an infant with club foot, please see only 1 of these 2 doctors for treatment. We choose to travel half way across the country for Jude's treatment even though it was a considerable inconvenience and expensive. But in the grand scheme of things, this really wasn't a big deal. In the end, no matter the outcome we wanted to be absolutely positive that we had done everything we could for Jude and his future. We wanted to look back and know that the extra expense (money we did not have, but rather racked up on credit cards) and inconvenience of seeing an out-of-state doctor, (my husband taking time off work and watching our 6 other children at home while I traveled with Jude half way across the country) would be absolutely positively be worth it.
Just after his 8th birthday he was treated for a 3rd time by Dr. Matthew Dobbs in St Louis, MO. Jude and I traveled by plane, 6 times over the course of 5 months. He had serial casting to correct the position of his feet and then surgery (a tendon transfer) for which he stayed overnight in the hospital. I pushed him in his wheel chair through airports for each trip. After his casts were removed he had a year's worth of physical therapy, and today is in every way shape and form a normal boy, and a very athletic one at that! Jude loves playing baseball more than anything and is a fabulous golfer too. He runs, jumps, and moves just like any boy his age.
In hindsight I wish I would have known some things about club feet and special needs in general.

In our opinion club foot is a very manageable special need. During treatment weekly casting is done to correct the position of the feet, and a very minor out-patient surgery is usually needed towards the end of the casting. Our whole process was about 2-4 months long followed by physical therapy. After correction has been attained, the child wears braces every night when they sleep till about age 5. After age 5, as long as there is no relapse, there is nothing that needs to be done. Nothing. Likely for life!

As long as you've selected your doctor carefully and followed the bracing protocol faithfully, the relapse rate is 6%. But even if relapse occurs the treatment is re-casting to re-correct the position of the foot. And really if you can do it once you can do it again.

There are several warning signs that club foot is not being treated properly. Proper treatment includes casting up to the mid thigh/groin. Bracing should be done immediately after casts are removed, not waiting even a single day. Removing the casts should be done no more than 1 hour before the new casts are applied. Casting should be done with plaster. (Although some docs use fiberglass on top of plaster which is okay.) Not following these protocols are a red flag that a consult with a new doctor is needed.

Sometimes (often? always?) the extent of a child's special needs is unknown for a long time. We were pretty certain that with our diligent care, Jude wouldn't need further care after his second correction. We were wrong! He relapsed, and we found ourselves amidst another round of correction. For all we know there's another round of treatment in our future. We pray there isn't, but if there is it's okay. Special needs, even "minor and medically correctable" ones are often unpredictable and need a life-time of treatment. As adoptive parents of special needs children we absolutely must be okay with that. Learning to trust the Lord's plan instead of my own is good indeed.
If you're interested in reading the entire journey of Jude's most recent club foot treatment click HERE. For a timeline of Jude's 2nd treatment click HERE.

And ps - both Dr. Morcuende and Dr. Dobbs will consult with IA parents via email (responding pretty quickly too) even if they are not patients. 'Cause they're both pretty amazing like that!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Just to reinforce the fact that I am indeed crazy...

I had a 5 minute argument with this squirrel today. He was angry that I was in his space i.e. Little Cabin in the Woods. I was trying to convince him that I'm the one that fills up that squirrel feeder that he's perched on and certainly we could learn to coexist for the next couple months. Evidently he wasn't so sure of that and kept yelling at me and stomping his feet. I speak squirrel, but he was having none of it. It's 121°F in the desert next week so no way, no shape, no how am I vacating the cabin just because some little squirrel yelled at me. 

Summer. I love you. 

PS-There's a 400 acre forest fire that started this afternoon, which is tiny in the land of forest fires, about 25 miles away from us. So if things go south (Actually they'd have to go north for the fire to blow in our direction, which is already happening.) the squirrel may get his way after all. Chances are unlikely, my little friend!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Our fairy has a 3-day window

Mimi has something she's pretty stinkin' excited about!
But she's a little unsure about showing everyone at first. And she's appreciating that it's kinda hard to smile with her mouth closed!
Oh wait... mid-story she's totally distracted by a squirrel...
'cause who doesn't love squirrels?!
Yep, those are new holes where the teeth used to be! 
But when she opens her mouth for a smile it's plainly obvious that Mimi finally lost her 2 front teeth! In just as many hours! And if it was possible she got a little cuter with an adorable little lisp! I just love this short season of life with a gap in the middle of the smile. It helps that this lovely child seems to smile so much of the time! 
And the fairy, who unusually came on the very first night only because Papa remembered and was willing to get out of bed, brought a $2 bill for each tooth, which is a lot more than the usual $1 per tooth.
Because when you lose 2 teeth in 2 hours a little extra is in order, don't you think?

Monday, June 5, 2017


Tess with her cousin behind her playing dodge ball, a favorite summer past time for the boys. 
I watched them play dodge ball and (in a world that isn't allowing dodge ball any more) 2 things struck me. 
The first one was this young lady. I love that Tess isn't hesitant to play dodge ball with the boys. Not in the least. I don't think she even noticed that she was the only girl playing amongst several older and very hard -throwing boys. I love that about her. Her strength. Her bravery and tenacity to just go for it, all wrapped up in her petite 45lb and 45" frame. And yet she's so sensitive and vulnerable on the inside. Then again aren't we all a bit like that. 
I smile every time I run across the phrase strong is the new pretty. This wonderfully-made young lady seems to epitomize that. I'm secretly hoping more of what she has inside of her rubs off on me. She is so crazy gorgeous. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Photography Class Registration NOW OPEN!

It has been a while since I offered my Manual 'n More class. My family needed me, and that's okay. But let me tell you that I was SO missing teaching, and finally now is that time to offer this photography class again! And I'm so excited to again pass on all I know, that I'm opening up registration for 2 Manual 'n More classes! A small class starting in just a couple weeks on June 12th, then another starting in August 21st. This is the class that starts your photography journey! And sometimes these classes fill up fast so don't wait if you're going to register for it.

Registration for 2 Manual 'n More classes is NOW OPEN. 
6/12-7/30/17 and again 8/21-10/8/17. 
Click HERE to register via Paypal for either class.
Class size will be limited and is first come first serve!

Our little ones stay little for a very short period of time, and I know first hand that one day you wake up and they are grown and gone. If you are letting your camera make all the decisions for you in auto mode, then you are missing out on capturing the fleeting ordinary miracles that are all around you!  Please don't let your big-girl camera sit on auto mode! If you know your way around your camera but feel like you still have a handle on getting the correct exposure or sharp focus most of the time, this class is for you. Learn to do more with with your camera and capture the photos you envision!

It's no secret that I love photography and am more than happy to share what I know! Manual 'n More is an 7-week, online course for beginning photographers who want to move beyond auto mode and take the photos they've always wanted! It'll teach you how  to shoot in Manual mode so you can capture those fleeting memories around you. I want to give you both the information you need to capture images like the ones you envision and a place to practice what you are learning where you can ask questions, get feedback, and learn from what others are doing and asking too! I'll keep it simple, use easy-to-understand language, and give step-by-step instructions that will help you learn how to really use your DSLR as more than a fancy point-n-shoot camera. There are even a couple weeks built in to the class for "catch up" just in case you have a vacation planned during those 7 weeks. I want you to do the class at your pace. 

What does Manual 'n More cover?
  • Exposure - what it is and why it's critical to understand and how to do it in Manual mode
  • Apertures and depth of field
  • Shutter speeds, ISO and how they affect your photos
  • How to read your camera's light meter
  • Putting all the pieces together to get the photo you envision
  • Different metering and focus modes - what they do and how to know which one to use
  • Studying and using the light correctly
  • Techniques for getting crisp focus
  • And lots more!

How does the class work?
In a private group just for our class, we work together, start with the basics and develop a firm foundation. I'll demystify terms like exposure triangle, aperture and ISO. Then we will put the pieces together and empower you to shoot in manual mode. But this is just the beginning! Then we'll move on to metering, learn some great techniques for getting sharp focus, and study light and how to best use it.

There is no need to be online at any particular time because you choose when to check in and work at your own pace. I will be available the whole time to answer questions and provide personalized feedback and guidance to help you! There will be a private forum via Facebook just for our class, where you can share your photos and questions {or not} any time of day. There will be homework, but unlike that chemistry class you took in high school all homework is optional and due whenever and if-ever you want! You can participate during nap time, in the middle of the night, only on the weekends, or whenever you find an opportunity and even skip class entirely during your vacation. I'll be there in my horribly-embarrassing holey yoga pants, so I invite you to pull up your laptop and make yourself comfortable any time of day or night!  

What do I need to take the class?
  • A DSLR camera
  • Access to the Internet and a Facebook account
  • Enthusiasm and time to learn and practice    

How much does it cost?
 $349. Payment is taken at registration via Paypal (which accepts all major credit cards)  

What do other students think of the class?
I took another class and decided I was too dumb to learn photography. You have given me hope that I CAN.  You make it all make sense and give awesome feedback along the way. THANK YOU!!! ~Jodi

I was following the Ordinary Miracles blog for quite some time before I found the time and guts to take the Manual'n'More class. I was a bit skeptical to taking an online class from my home in Scandinavia, with the teacher in Arizona!! That fear was so unnecessary! The time difference and foreign language did not matter at all!  You can tell Nancy is a teacher deep inside, because she would always find a new way to explain, check if you are following, and she is very patient!  Nancy is truly flexible, always there to give a reply, to answer questions, no questions are ever too silly. She manages to create such a learning environment, online!, that it feels okay to post pics that aren't really that good. She gives individual feedback, and it was just amazing how close she manages to follow up her class! She doesn't keep the good parts of photography to herself, you can tell that she really loves to pass on her knowledge! I can warmly and most definitively recommend taking her class!  ~Lill-Karin

Nancy, thank you for being such an amazing teacher!! I never knew I could have taken photos like the ones I've recently done until I started your class. Your encouragement and constant feedback, in language which a "newbie" like me could understand, gave me the push I needed to feel comfortable to move from auto to manual. Your detailed lessons and assignments set me up for success; each lesson built upon the prior lesson, giving me the foundation, tools and knowledge to realize shooting in manual was possible. I honestly thought shooting photos in manual was out of my reach until I found your class. In giving me the "how and why" throughout the course, you took away the fear and intimidation of shooting in manual. Thank you so much for sharing your gift of teaching and your passion for photography.  ~Amy

Thank you, Nancy! I owe it all to you that I am finally able to catch the beauty of my children in photos. I look at the photos I took before your class and think if only I had known what I know now. My only regret is I didn't take your class sooner! ~Kristen

I am truly blown away by how much I learned in your class. You put everything you had into making yourself and the material accessible to all of us, and what a difference it made. It was amazing to see the transformation in not only my own pictures, but everyone's in the class. I found that learning the appropriate  ways to focus and meter for varying situations was essential to capturing the images I wanted.  I think these essential pieces of instruction are often missing from other basic photography classes.  I also loved your tips and encouragement for finding our own style. But most of all I loved how you  made learning to use the camera in manual mode interactive and fun! I felt like I had a teacher, a mentor, and a friend walking beside me and helping me capture treasured moments and memories. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being so responsive and so willing to share your talent and knowledge. ~Ashlee

Thanks for everything, Nancy. I had to tell you a funny story that happened. I had printed a few pictures off at Walgreens. When I picked them up the teenage clerk said that there was a slight problem and that a couple of the photos looked like a professional photographer had taken them and did I have permission to make prints? I actually had to sign a copyright waiver! It made me feel great that they thought my photos were stolen and I thanked the clerk for his compliment!  ~Cathy

Sound like something you'd like to participate in? Feel free to give me a holler if you have ANY questions. Hope to see you there... holey yoga pants and all!

Registration for 2 Manual 'n More classes is NOW OPEN. 
6/12-7/30/17 and again 8/21-10/8/17. 
Click HERE to register via Paypal for either class.
Class size will be limited and is first come first serve!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

"In China no clean up..."

There are times in life, especially when you have a big family, when all you can do is manage the crises. Sometimes you have to drop everything immediately to do what you have to do for those you love. There are times in life when there is no extra time for photography or blogging on lunches with friends or (heaven help me) a very-much-needed pedicure or any sort of "me time" and maybe most critical no time to try not fill one's heart with constant worry and stress. The last 2 months have been such a time. (Why don't we talk about this stuff more often?) One kiddo after another, and often simultaneously, needed guidance, often about the big stuff that moms and dads don't share so openly. As a family we've been struggling and keeping it real I didn't handle it well. Often I melted into t puddle of goo. I'm not proud that anxiety and panic attacks got the better of my more times than I'd like to admit. But I'm also happy to report I currently find myself surfacing and breathing regularly again. Busy yes, but in the midst of busy seeing God's glory and the little ordinary miracles He throws my way again. Some accomplishments have been achieved. Some not. And we're reassessing what's really important. In the end our objectives are not honor roll or gifted programs or eagle scouts is happy and healthy children and as simple as that sounds, it's not a given. We made our way up the The Little Cabin in the Woods right after school let out, where life is simple and so beautiful, and that always helps. No seriously... why don't we talk about this stuff more often?

I'm happy to report that little of the aforementioned meltdown had to do with Ru. Bringing a new child home, an older child, a special need's child did prime did the scene for the perfect storm of stress. But Ru certainly wasn't the 'cause of the stress and is still adjusting well to his new home and family life, as we all are.

So my apologies for my lengthy absence. I think I'm back, although with a large family one never knows what crises on the horizon. I'm taking some time these days for what heals my heart these days, taking photos, teaching a couple classes, being with my children and doing crazy-important stuff like hunting dandelions and playing Uno or Ticket to Ride.

Regardless, I really want to continue to show Ru's progress with English. This morning we were doing our daily chores. Ru doesn't really like doing chores but really who does? In the middle of wiping down some tables, cleaning rag in hand, he stopped to tell me that in China they didn't have to do any cleaning or work, that the "teachers" did all the cleaning. I don't think he actually meant "teachers," but he doesn't have the vocabulary to say nannies or cleaning people yet. He seems to really want to tell us about how his life in China and I think that'll be a beautiful gift that we can remember these stories for him as time passes. This gorgeous and wonderfully made kiddo talks incessantly, and we rarely use the translation app any more. It's amazing how much his English has grown in the 8 weeks he's been home!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Trusting my mama-bear gut

As if he hadn't had enough trauma and change in the last month, unfortunately Ru broke his right arm last Saturday. Lest my caseworker think I was neglectful or even worse... he was in our back yard and broke it when he was trying to keep up with his sister and fell off the monkey bars. Pesky monkey bars strike again! Just last week Livy and I were commenting as we watched them running around in our back yard and were talking about how we were surprised that he has some delays in his gross motor skills. There're some gaps in things like skipping, doing a somersault, jumping and even his gate is kinda off when he runs. We also noticed that Ru has no idea how to fall and little awareness of his body in general. We were commenting that it was kinda dangerous because he's a go-full-tilt-boogie-all-the-time kind of guy and that combo was likely to result in an eventual injury. Ya, we said that a couple days before he broke his arm, and sure 'nough if happened. 

Since it was after hours, we took him to the little urgent clinic down the street. They x-rayed his arm and couldn't find a break anywhere. But my mama gut told me differently. The doc said to follow up with an orthopedist if I wanted. Radiology reviewed the x-rays and confirmed no break. Still my mama gut said the arm was broken and they just didn't see it. On Monday I called my pediatrician for a referral, and the "referral gal" was gone for the day so I couldn't get a referral. It seemed like the universe was telling me that Ru's arm wasn't really hurt that badly, and keeping it real, I really was thinking of dropping it altogether seeing as how I had both a doc and radiology telling me nothing was there. But seeing as how he just wouldn't move his arm for 2 days, and the swelling continued all weekend, my mama gut was still telling me something was wrong. I decided to book an appointment without a referral anyway for the following morning. Tuesday morning we went to see the surgeon, and he looked over the x-rays. Nope, no break and said something about an injury to the growth plate. Really, no 2nd x-ray? I asked and trying to look and sound as exasperated as I could. It sure would make me feel better if you'd just take another x-ray. Ultimately with a little push from this mama bear, we got got a 2nd x-ray. 

Now I'm no radiologist or orthopedic surgeon... but my mama-bear gut was right!
The 2nd x-ray clearly shows that his arm is broken! Actually it's broken in 2 places, on both the radius and his ulna, one of which even I, who has no medical training, can clearly see. I just remember thinking to myself, This is just so stereotypical reaction to a broken arm. I just has to be broken! Which is kinda funny seeing as how this is the first broken bone for any of the 10 of us, and  I obviously would have no idea what a stereotypical reaction to a broken arm would be. Nevertheless, she persisted (minus a pantsuit) and got another x-ray, and low and behold it was broken. 
Ru wasn't too happy when they had to squeeze and move the cast a bit before it set, but he snuggled right in to me for comfort so the silver lining is that he's coming to me for comfort when he needs and that's a great sign that attachment is making progress. And ever since the cast he's back to his normal ol' spunky self... and tells me every time he goes outside that those monkey bars are bad, and he's not going on them again!

So the lesson for the week is, trust your mama bear gut!
The cubs depend on it.

Awesome pics compliments of Livy the Unstoppable! Except for the x-ray of course that was taken by the 2nd technician that does know her left from her right!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

"...little bit baseball and then sleeping."

I've been trying to get some video of how we're communicating. 21 days since we've been home and this is a pretty good example of how much he's talking these days. We were at a restaurant having dinner, (Chinese and Viet food. I think he really likes eating some real Chinese food whenever he can!) and Papa asked him what he was going to do when we got home. I'm pretty sure he wants to make very very sure that he gets his baseball tv time in before bed! Which we're more than happy to oblige since baseball is one of our love languages around here!

Yes, he's in a sling.
Yes, he has a broken arm that is not set during this video.
Yes, he's not only a trooper and still smiling through it all. Every day I appreciate more and more that Ru is just one of those people that's happy in his soul regardless of any crap that life throws at him.
Yes, he is amazing!

More on the unfortunate arm incident later.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The little gardener

One of my very favorite things to do with our kids over the years has been gardening. Now I'm using the term "gardening" liberally. What I really mean is grow things in pots. Ish. I am not a gardener by any means, but I can keep somethings alive in pots by giving them water and sunshine... well not all the time but I can give it a sturdy go, and if it dies than that's an opportunity to teach the circle of life, yes? Especially for our adopted and foster kiddos growing things and the daily care  has been a life saver. It gets us outside in the sunshine, it fosters a nurturing and caring demeanor to another living thing, we get to be silly and splash our tootsies in the water and make feet prints on the sidewalk. We occasionally harvest our herbs or veggies and get to eat or cook with our bounty. Taking care of our plants provides many opportunities to practice direction following skills, gentleness and helps grow our English vocabulary in addition to the plants!
Thankfully in the desert we have about a 9 month growing season, and this year we are growing cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, oregano, basil, thyme, 2 types of mint, lemon grass, Gerbera daisies and several other pretty flowers, not to mention the orange tree in the back yard.
Right now, becuase it's spring and the desert goes crazy in the spring, the front of our home looks like an Easter basket threw up on it with a lush green lawn and a ridiculous amount of flowers in the trees, bushes, and blossoms of pinks, oranges, purples and yellow everywhere.
So far Ru has harvested a huge amount of oregano for me and then took it back to the kitchen and cleaned and prepped it so I could dry it. If you're local and would like to swing by for some organic oregano, holler! Or fresh sweet basil. Unfortunately he just missed the tomato harvest, but we'll plant again in the fall.
Seriously our little gardening venture is one of my favorite parts of the day, and I'm pretty sure is one of Ru's too!
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