Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Life. We have lots of it!

Zihao turned 4 May 26!  He had a great little party with our family. He had asked for a 'doggy' cake and a doggy cake he got! The cutest one ever! Everything else was a guess on my part but having 6 little boys...I have a pretty good idea what little boys like :) The only request he had was "gotchies" (boy's underwear in Walker-lingo).  Too funny. So he got them, and he had a good laugh :)

So many people commented on his visible joy and he definitely has it.  He's emotional at every level.  So he cries at the drop of a hat and laughs at the next moment.  :)

The other day we had gone for dinner then took the kids to a playground.  We had stayed in the van drinking our coffees but we were RIGHT in front of the playground, literally feet.  Up to the right was another play area and at all points we could see the children.  Well, Zihao would run all the way up to the top then run...and I mean RUN..back to the van and stand beside my window and tell me a story. "Mommy!!! Mommy!!! I saw coming! It's coming!" No idea what he was talking about but I'd ask him questions and he'd laugh and then say "Bye MommY!!!" and run off. And 20 seconds later the same thing.  He must have did this trek 25 times. He was panting and out of breath! It was pretty cute.

We are still struggling with his health. There has to be a reason why he is always sick. ALWAYS sick. Since adoption day he's had a runny nose, a very dry (empty) cough and just sick.  If he's ever not sick it's for 2-4 days before he has something else.  The rest of the children...? Nada. Perfectly healthy. So it's not like it's a virus that the others get. We know he has a fistula (hole) in his palate which can cause drainage and therefore infection.  We have no idea if this is what's going on but it's getting old. :(


Taizi is my stretch-me-to-where-I'd-never-go-without-You gift.  Yes. Gift.  The Potter is molding this lump of cracked, imperfect clay called Janice.

I have been feeding him infant oatmeal cereal for breakfast and he hates it. Well this morning he opened his mouth for every spoonful.  :)  Seriously...progress...that is painfully slow.

On the amazing front...yes...amazing...I'm not joking...he's walking.  Not completely unassisted but we had him take over 15 consecutive steps this weekend...several times! I will get it on video.  It's a very very labored walk and it's hard for us to envision him with the ability to walk as we do...simply because he definitely gets very very weak and tired by the end of it.  Either way...it's amazing! We are both in shock (shock yet it's not a surprise since we've been working hard with him toward this for 6 months)...as we saw it way further down the road.

Other children are doing great.

Zion and Azahria are near twins. Not only do they look alike (our 2 dark haired children) but they are sooo alike. They are do-ers. They are spender-time-with-you-ers.  They are quality-time-ers and they are both big hearted.

Azahria is so much like her mama it's funny. She wanted to sing Daddy a song last night but asked if she could sit BEHIND him so he couldn't see her :)  We just laughed.  Of course you can.  :) If you look directly at her...she's going to freeze...regardless of the topic.

Tirzah reads the Bible for hours a day.  She is completely enthralled with it. Thank you Auntie Joss for the picture Bible! If you summarize a Bible story, she can correct you with the details...she LOVES it.

Zunduka loves to read. And we are glad. It's such a personality thing for him. He's quieter, not the life of the party and reading is so perfect for him! And he's an amazing reader!

Chazano is still the crazy artist. He draws for hours a day. We love fostering imaginations in our family!

Things get built, taken down, rebuilt and all over again the next day! We love it.  This morning they all were packed up to go 'camping' in the back yard. It did get briefly interrupted for school but it resumed :)

Izrael is quirky and then some. Completely potty trained for months now...is a dream.  She's best friends with Zihao and looks for him wherever she goes.  She's quickly passing him in height...poor boy...we are going to do our best to make sure he's happy with how God made him, despite having sisters that tower over him! (he's 4y, she is 2y!)
She is so excited for the new baby and kisses my belly all the time in anticipation. :)

Azlan. Oh my Azlan.  I work so hard with him and his heart is tender.  He said the other day "do you think I will ever have a friend...?A friend that is not my brother or sister or mommy or daddy? Someone that just likes me?" and my heart hurt.  Honestly...it will take one special little boy to enter into Azlan's world and love him as a friend. He's the most loveable, fun, funny, witty, caring boy...yes.  His speech is seriously a hindrance to this idea though :(

I asked Azlan a few nights ago about God.  I said "does He love you?" he said "Oh yes" I said "how do you know?" he thought for a second and said "well because the Bible says He does." I smiled.  I said "does He make mistakes?" he quickly said "No, mommy...NEVER". I said "so when he gave you an ear that doesn't work and a cleft lip...that wasn't a mistake...?" he looked and said "no, definitely not. I'm not sure WHY He did it but I know for sure, mommy, it was NOT a mistake. Because He can't do those".  My heart was ready to explode.  I said "do you have questions for Him about the way He made you?" he said "well, I do. But I think He'll show me."  I have a lump in my throat just TYPING this out.  Let alone hearing it and seeing the total sincerity on his face.  I said "do you love God?" he said "oh yeah. I do. A lot. He made me."  I asked him about Heaven. "what do you think Heaven is like?" he smiled and said "it must be amazing! I can't even imagine.  But I think I'll fly in heaven!" I said "really?? Fly...? Why?" he said "because I just dream of flying and I think God made me that way...he made me dream of it...because I'll do it someday in Heaven.  I really do think that. Do you?" (having read Heaven is for Real...my heart was pounding...) "you know Azlan, I've always wanted to fly too.  I don't know if we will fly...but that would be pretty amazing!" :)  I kissed him goodnight.

I've never seen faith like I see in our children.  It's deep. It's real and they passionately believe it.  It's incredibly beautiful.


Last night the "drawer fairy" visited. That sometimes comes with much regret.  The drawer fairy shows up unannounced every few weeks with money in her pockets and it goes to the kids with the neatest drawers.  Based on personality...it's shocking who wins.  Azlan has won every single time. His drawers look like I folded them at all points in time!  Last night (we always award 2) it was Zion and Azlan.  Zunduka has received full mention for the absolute worst drawers each time.  Hmmmm.  Tirzah was sad b/c she feels it fair to warn them ahead of time ;) Ahhh no.  It's about not knowing when the fairy will indeed show!  ;)

We started offering our children 50% interest on money earned in their piggy banks.  Wow has this inspired them (yes I know...50% is intense).  So for every $10 of earned money (bday money doesn't count) they get $5 from Mommy and Daddy.  We have kids that went from spending every cent they earned ... to children with $30, 40 and $50 in their piggy banks! How do they earn money...? Picking weeds...working with daddy...doing laundry for Mommy and other jobs we offer :)  Zion wanted to bathe Taizi the other night and I'm telling you that boy was sweating after that job! A well earned 50 cents!


We just received updates on all of Taizi's bloodwork. Several tests were red flagged. We are waiting to hear back from CranioFacial on the interpretations.


Yesterday was our 13th wedding anniversary.  Thirteen years. That's crazy.  Really. But then again...with ten children...I think 13 years makes perfect sense :)  We got a sitter and went out to a fun restaurant.  We then went to Target after to buy a housecoat for the hospital...as Tirzah cannot believe I don't have one :)  It was a beautiful evening and I can honestly say this man gets better with time.  And better looking.  ;)

And here I am at 35 weeks!

Thursday, May 23, 2013


It's been busy lately. In case you can't tell from seeing the lack of posts :)

I'll get more consistent with it.

Taizi is being...Taizi! Good news! :)  He's definitely putting weight on, getting pudgy, and definitely not growing taller...and definitely getting harder and harder to carry everywhere (says both Dean and I). hmmmm.

Our next Seattle appt is June 15. That's Zihao's ear tubes. Then the 17th for Cranio for Azlan, Zihao and Taizi to see what steps we will take next.

We finally got all of Taizi's blood work done. Poor Dean. He volunteered to take him and it was a runaround of labs. Not surprisingly the blood work was intense and several of the local labs were not equipped to do it.  Then it was too much for 1 draw so we had to come back a second time.  That time took longer as they didn't have the supplies and Dean and a fasted-Taizi had to wait for the stuff to arrive and it didn't sound fun.

However it's all done at this point and now we wait to hear the results.

Zihao is doing well.  Lots of English and funny ways of saying it which  is cute.  Zihao's birthday is May 26th...cake is ordered, Zihao-style and gifts are on their way (thanks to Amazon).  Love love love shipping to my door. Seriously.

Anndddd our 13th anniversary is Monday.  Yes.  13 years.  To say we have come a long way is such a gross understatement.  We had wanted to get away for the weekend to celebrate...we will do it...perhaps just delayed.  Our work schedules are pretty full and being 35weeks pregnant....there is a new baby coming soon :) Not that we intend to slow down much...but :)

As my life races before me...in the form of 'just another day'...I'm brought humbly to my knees as Christina (my close friend's niece) is dying.  Really...knowingly...dying.  I've been so moved by watching this from afar.  I've never seen someone die so gracefully.  There is no "why?" there is no bitterness...there is simply joy as she waits to meet her Savior.  Can you imagine...that being you? Leaving behind a husband of 1.5 years...a 6month old baby boy...?  And fully, to the end...trusting God that He is only good.

See when SHE says "He is good" you sit up and pay attention.  When someone rattles it off on fb because they just got a job promotion or a new house or their new baby was born healthy...you take it with a grain of salt. Will they still say He is good when things aren't going quite so ideal? When your baby is born with a serious health condition? When you get the dreadful news of a health concern in your family becoming a reality?  His goodness does not depend on your circumstances. He IS good.  He cannot be otherwise.

When Christina and her family say "He is good" it is moving to the core.

Faith. Alive and real.

Monday, May 20, 2013

10 minutes.

I have a new philosophy.

That everything I dread doing...really only takes 10 minutes.

Hmm. Something to think about.

But really.

I hate unloading the dishwasher.

It's less than a 10 minute job.

I hate cleaning the kitchen.

I can do that in 10 minutes.

I hate doing laundry.

Really? I can get several loads folded and put away in 10 minutes.

When you think about it...much of what us busy moms dread and put off...really only takes 10 minutes.

So there's my challenge to you.

Next time you think "seriously...can't do laundry right now" or "not cleaning the kitchen...again!" think...it's really 10 minutes! Or less! I unloaded the dishwasher, cleaned up from dinner, reloaded it and the kitchen was CLEAN in 10 minutes the other night.  Wasn't worth the dread.

Food for thought.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Never underestimate your ability to influence.

On Sunday, a lady came up to me outside church and said her son had something special for Zion. While reading this blog she read how Zion loved soldiers and always talks of being one someday.  Her son is an Army Ranger.

I put the note in my purse and promised to give it to Zion after Sunday School.

When we got home we sat down and opened the note. His eyes were huge.  I mean...huge.  "A REAL soldier wrote me a letter...?".  He read the letter then held it close to his chest.  He said the coin was the most special thing he's ever owned and he would never ever ever lose it.

I'm not sure if this young man knew how much this would mean to our 7 year old little boy.  But he hasn't lost sight of that letter and coin since he got it.  In fact, I told him I would frame it and put it in his room.

Something really special is that bottom verse. Joshua 1:9 is the first verse Zion (and our other children) ever memorized. They still say it out loud when they are afraid.  In a child's version "Be strong and brave...because God is with you".  

With a middle name of Courage...I looked at Dean Sunday afternoon and said "you know..." and he smiled.  Zion would be passionate about fighting for his country someday.  Yes...he's 7.  But he talks about the courage of a soldier all day long.  

To Garrett: Thank you.  Thank you for taking the time to influence a little boy.  He doesn't know you...and yet holds you in the highest regard.  You are a hero to him.  And that fact that you are a hero that trusts in Jesus...is even more inspiring to Zion Courage.  

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Just a peek into a day.

We got called this morning confirming Zihao's dental surgery tomorrow morning. Then the scheduler says "you will get his pediatrician appt done today?" .....WHAT?  No.  That didn't sit well.  Nine children. No appt. No mention of an appt. Yes, yes, I should remember from the other kids...but I didn't. 

So I called my ped and she says 'come now'....Great. And...no problem.

I have minutes to get all 9 children ready and out the door.  Thankfully...we are not a pajama-in-the-day-family so everyone was dressed. 

We get there and all goes well.

The problem is I had an ob appt at 11. The doc still hadn't walked in the office at 10:42. I'm 15 minutes away from my OB.  :) I go tell her I have to see her now or we have to leave...

She races in. Clears him for surgery.

We leave.  Help buckle all the little kids in the van. Text Dean like crazy to meet me at the OB office.  I get there...he's not there. He texts me "I'm here"...I'm confused.  He's at the ped. office. :( uhhhh now I'm late. I go in and check in and run back out to the van. They always have me sit in the waiting room for 45 minutes away....not today. A few minutes later she comes running out calling my name.  Dean isn't there yet.  :)

I wait finally he shows up. I run in the office, they call me right in :)

Good news: I lost 3 lbs in 1 week (am 33wks)..and am now only measuring 2 weeks ahead instead of 5wks!  Doctor said our baby is measuring big...75-80th% which does panic me a bit.  I'm not one of those believers that whatever size your baby...you can handle it. There are 2 sets of genetics involved here....and my third baby which was in less than 3 years from baby number 1...was SO almost a c-section due to head size.  The doctor says head is quite large.  hmmm. 

Just another thing for me to surrender.

I should be a master at this ... but I'm not.

We'll plan on 39weeks like we have done with the last 4 babies.

He does think this one will be our biggest yet.  I had a dream 2 nights ago that she was 10lbs11oz and I was so sad that I missed the newborn stage :) Hope that wasn't prophetic...;)

Andddd...we were on our way. Dean back to work. Me back home with the kids to do lunch and naps and get to work for the afternoon.


Just a peek into our morning. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Is this the secret?

As I was pouring out my heart to my sweet friend tonight...she led me to this blog. 


And as I was reading...suddenly I stopped. Everything.

And there was a huge lump in my throat. And definitely a tear in my eye.

This ... this could be the secret.

"Sometimes the way to win is to never enter the race."

Hmmm.  That's deep.


Do you really need to be heard when you are known?

Known.  The beauty of being truly known.  You don't have to speak. You don't have to make your case.  You don't have strive to win the race...

You can be known.

I love love love the ending line about how small the stars look...


Sunday, May 12, 2013


 Joy.  Mother's Day weekend we went out on the river.  It was hot.  Very hot.  

Our captain...seen above. This guy just plain gets better with time.  Better and better looking.  Seriously.

3 amigos at the front of the boat!

Zihao taking it all in

 I'm choosing to show you pictures that reflect joy.  Not sure if this was joy from Taizi as he was screaming and hitting himself just seconds earlier. Then turned to hysteria. But it looks like joy so we'll show the picture. :)

So proud of my Tirzah girl! She got in the water! She was fine til she remembered fish live there...then it was panic ;)
 Zunduka jumped first. No warning of water temperature at all! Yikes!
 Zion ... thought about it ;)
 Azahria and Izrael ;)
 Miss Tirzah Liberty. She's as lovely as she looks.
 Miss personality...plus. Love her. Little Izrael Promise
 This picture is funny. Caught Zunduka in the biggest yawn ever!
 Yes. My children wanted Mama to jump. 8 months pregnant and water in a inhumane temperatures. I seriously felt like I was going to have a heart attack moments after I jumped. Not sure how smart it was but it made them all smile :)
 A very classic quirkly Taizi face
 Daddy and baby girl Azahria
 Mama and Izrael :)
 Mother's Day.  Surrounded by 9 (10) children that call me Mama. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Some days...it's more chaos than peace.

Now I have to explain that statement.

Our kids are amazing.  Truly amazing.

Taizi is hard.  He really just is.

He is NOT hard if you let him just sit and do nothing. Eat baby food. A bottle and never ever attempt to walk or move.  Or do anything he doesn't want to do.

Yet we cannot.

We have made progress yet he seems to do 1.5 steps forward and 1 step back. Frequently.

Going away for 5 days definitely had it's effect. We anticipated that.  But it's not that fun for the rest of us.

He almost refuses to walk.  We do it...but he screams like you are torturing him.  The therapist in Seattle said he 100% has the ability and 100% lacks the motivation so she wants us to keep going.  We also know that we can accomplish things so much faster than therapy can just due to time.

He MAY (we would debate that) have the physical ability to walk...but he definitely does not have the desire or motivation. Isn't that half the battle...?  When your baby is learning to walk...they WANT to walk. There is that desire to be independent. Not in Taizi. :(  So it's hard.  He screams like crazy and we walk around the kitchen with him.  And...he will go totally limp so he doesn't have to.

Then there's food. We've started on mildly chunky food.  Like a mushed up banana.  Yes...it's chaos.But in good news it was chaos getting him off his bottle. And it was chaos getting him to eat from a syringe. And it was chaos getting him to eat from a spoon. And it was chaos getting him to eat foods other than sweet potatoes and bananas.  But we did it.  So of course it's chaos taking the next step.

Regarding sleep we are figuring out that he is indeed trashed at about 5pm.  In fact, the last few days I was out with all the kids at that time and he fell asleep in the car (which he never does!).

He hates his glasses and rips them off every 30 seconds if we don't see him.  Speaking of glasses, we did just get a new pair...in white. So he has blue and white :)

We let him eat his bottle on a chair (sitting up) like a couch or big chair in the living room. Then every time he turns around and slithers off the chair. Well since we came home ... he will not. In fact, he sits there and screams for you to get him off the chair. Soooo he has definitely regressed in that area and I would say also in the walking area. He hated it but not like he does now.

All of this...has got us wondering...if his severe reaction to the rehab room in the orphanage...was not due to abuse...but perhaps due to him being pushed to stand, crawl, walk etc and things he didn't want to do.  Obviously we don't know but we wonder. Now that we see how he reacts to be made to do anything progressive...it's really the same.

We went to Seattle for ENT for Zihao, Taizi and Azlan last week.

Azlan's update was great. It was the first time a doctor has had an answer. He first of all blatantly disagreed with Dr. Husein in Spokane that Azlan is 1 in 100,000. He laughed actually. He said this is what he sees sooo frequently with Baha implants.  Inflammation. Hair follicles no longer present.  Swelling. Consistently.

He likened it to a Tracheotomy. He said whenever there is something protruding out of the skin...then everything and anything ... the slightest dirt, sweat, bacteria is going to cause a problem.  Period.  He said the care of a BAHA is intense.  It takes daily ointment, cleansing, brushing around the abutment etc.  We have NEVER been told this. He gave a RX that will even kill MRSA. He said he has to shower daily and apply it daily. Then he gave an ointment for when it does get inflammed.  When I asked about him being allergic etc...he said no...it really is infection but not deep infection. Just skin infection from normal skin bacteria.  However he doesn't believe oral or IV antibiotics help it. It's all topical.  So we are going to do this for 2 months and then see him again.  He said with an implant like this it's all about weighing the pros and cons.  He said he has MANY families lined up waiting for the Sophono implant b/c they refuse the "nightmare of the BAHA".  Good to know. No one told us! :(

Then Zihao.  We did the behavioral audio exam where a frequency is sounded in each ear canal to see his response.  In BOTH ears he responded at 40-50decibels.  I was floored. If you see the way he leans his head and favors one ear...you would be too.  The good news about this definite hearing loss is he has significant fluid in his ears. So on June 15 he will have tubes put in then we will do the test again and see where he is.  I'm still in shock that there's no single sided deafness just with his behaviors! GOOD NEWS!!

Then Taizi.  He just reviewed his CT scan and made a plan.  Things don't look good for Taizi there's no doubt but we are going to give every chance we can. So he will have tubes put in, hopefully with palate surgery then we will do the ABR sedated hearing test and see. If he has no response at that point, things are a lot more conclusive.

Regarding Cochlear implants which many ask about...it's unlikely he would be a candidate even if it were proven they could help him b/c you have to be trained to interpret the sounds with a cochlear implant and you have to have that cognitive ability. ...

That was it! The next Cranio Facial is for June 17 for all 3 boys and we'll know more about surgeries etc at that point.

Likely having a baby the end of June we are trying to get as many of these big appts out of the way first.  Though...it's not like they will slow down :)

Going back to our amazing kids...yesterday I had an appt for Azlan with the ped. Dean was working and so I took all 9.  It was 94 degrees yesterday (!)...we got out of the van and walked up to the doc's office.  I took the three little kids with me (well not really) it was Azlan, Zihao and Izrael and the other 6 stayed in the playroom reading books.  When I came back out the receptionist's eyes popped. She said "where were those 6 children???" I said "right here!" She said "You don't understand, there was not ONE peep, I didn't know anyone was in the waiting room!! That's amazing" and I turned to the kids and said "you guys rock and they all jumped up to give me high five. I think she was most amazed by the life they had once we were leaving. They have so much life and spirit...but know when to sit and control it. They are awesome.

And really...they all are.

Last night I got on my hands and knees to wash the entire bottom floor...floor.  I knew it was a bad idea. At 33 weeks pregnant...you know but...I wanted it done. :) SO I did it. The kids were outside cleaning the yard and Zion was inside helping me.  He disappeared for a long time. When I was done I looked up to see this MASSIVE poster taped to the dining room wall. It was beautiful. All rainbows and then there was Mommy and Zion in stick figure style. Written above it was "you are the best mommy in the world".  When I asked why he did it he said "because you have a baby in your belly and yet you work so hard. You rock".  :)

Every ounce of this parenting is worth it. Every bit.

Driving to Seattle the other day we turned on "It's Good to be Alive" by Jason Grey.  All of a sudden the  van erupted into noise. Every child minus Taizi, bellowing at the top of their lungs. "All I want is to give you a life well lived to say THANK YOU!" and how could my heart not smile.


I choose peace.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


Let's see. What has happened between then and now...?

Last week, Dean and I drove to Salt Lake for a business conference. With friends. Without kids. Not joking. :) And ... I almost cried at leaving them.  :)

However.  They loved Miss Amy and had such a great time with her and that makes everything easier. It was tough for my sweet friend b/c she had to keep her distance from Zihao especially.  He was very well cared for but not cuddled by her. He would be a total mess today if he was.

The morning we left, I woke...and said "I'm so going to be sick!" and ran to the bathroom barely making it in time before puking everywhere. I've done more exciting things at 31 weeks pregnant!  When we woke the next morning in Salt Lake...I said the same thing. It however was worse. I barely made it and once I did, I started passing out while throwing up. Hope that's not too much of a nasty visual but I ended up crawling back to the bed where I vomited...while laying down.

Ok this was concerning. And to top it off my left foot was extremely swollen.  I was weak, dizzy and not ok.  I called my ob and she, the most unalarmed ob ever...said "you need to go to the ER".  Are you kidding...? Yes this is just what I felt like doing.  Kudos to University of Utah's ER...I was in and out in 2 hours!!! I had every test clearing me. No dehydration. No Pre-E.  Nothing.  No idea why I was vomiting.

Then the next day, Amy calls to say Azlan woke in the night saying he couldn't breathe well.  He wasn't sick but she could see his breaths were very accelerated and shallow. She let him sleep with her and though improved in the morning, it was still there. We called a friend who came and picked him up and brought him to the ER.  The doctor called me on my cell phone and said it was very strange. Azlan seemed perfectly fine except his breathing was 2-3x the normal rate!  I told him his tolerance for pain is extremely high an the fact that HE was concerned in the night was a red flag to us.  He did xrays ruling out pneumonia and decided to treat him for Bronchitis with an inhaler and steroids.  When we got home, I took him to his pediatrician.  She was surprised to hear his lungs were still extremely wheezy and said she would anticipate a quick response to the meds, having been on them for 3 days already (it was only a 4 day prescription).  So she up-ed his dosage and said we'll see him Friday. If still wheezing she was send him to a specialist assuming we are dealing with Asthma.

I'm still shocked about the whole deal.  No allergies, asthma whatsoever in any of our children and they are very healthy. He would be compromised of course and we've often wondered if he has an obstructed airway due to the Golden Har Syndrome (not uncommon with that diagnosis).

I went to my OB yesterday and my swelling (edema) in my one foot has now turned to pretty extreme pitted edema ( where the mark from pressing in on it stays for a long time).  I was measuring a full 37 weeks at 32 weeks and she ordered another ultrasound for Thursday.

How do I feel? Great.  Ok. My rib pain is off the charts but looks like I'm stuck with that. The skin is so tender around my ribs and I'm not kidding that I can feel them out of place.

The kids are all doing good with the transition.  Chazano did amazing which was a good sign, he struggles with attachment pretty bad but did really really well.  Taizi had a set back for sure but we would fully anticipate that and it's totally ok.

It's hot. Beautiful. And we are back to full routine.

Tomorrow we go to Seattle for ENT for Azlan, Zihao and Taizi.  Nice to be moving to the next step for Azlan and Zihao. I'm thinking they will now schedule the ABR for Taizi since he had the CAT scan.

There it is. The factual update :)

I'll write more soon.