Sunday, February 23, 2014

Fun date.

This afternoon I took the 6 older kids on a date. It was fun and oh so cute.  I had them all close their eyes as we walked into their "surprise". It was the pottery studio. They were SO excited.

A few of them chose a mug, 2 a plate and one an animal.

Love how individual they all are.  These pieces are the best. Can't wait to see them next week.


 I love these 6 children. On the way home, Chazano said "Mommy I know I say this SO MUCH but I am SO glad you adopted me. I love that you are my mommy and I love that because you are my mommy...I know Jesus".  Ahhh...yes Chazano.


When we left, Izrael and Zihao were reading books with their darling Piggy and Bear ;)


Chazano putting great thought into his piece


:)









Then it all ended with  Dairy Queen :)







Mama and Nazara today after church


A little Nazara Journey sunshine to end the post. 


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Christ...alone.

I recently heard this song and it grips me in the deepest part of my heart.

Something old and familiar. Something new.

"...through the storm...You are Lord. Lord of all"


http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=WKWLLLNX

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Moving forward.

Literally...moving.

In December we bought land.  This whole story is such a God-story and really amazing.  We own this beautiful piece of land and then decided we would just wait. Thinking about listing our house and dealing with that around our busy life right now just seemed a tad daunting.

Today we closed on the sale of our house. Yes. You read that right. We sold our house and we never listed it. We showed it once to friends...and they bought it.

The story gets more amazing than that.

They offered to let us rent it for several months.

Who does this?  Seriously. Amazing.

We had our current house built and moved in when Azahria was 8 months old (almost the same age Nazara is now).  That feels like a lifetime ago!  We had 4 little (tiny) children.  We had no idea what God had in store for each one of us over the next few years. We have lived here 5 years...and expanded from 4 children to 10.  We are ready for the next phase!

So we own land. Sold our house. Are now renting our house.  And...need to start thinking about building on our land.  We do have plans almost finalized...not quite done.  Lots of (fun) thought has been put into this and this is pretty exciting.

Just letting you all know...our big news! :)

Friday, February 14, 2014

I believe in Love.

Valentine's Day.

Of course it's "just another day on the calendar".

However...I refuse to let life become mundane.

I hear constantly how couples don't celebrate Valentine's Day anymore since they have children. Actually...I often hear how couples no longer 'date' since having children.

Our life...may surprise you.

Yes we have an extremely busy life.  We have 10 young children, our oldest is 10y, 1 has significant special needs. We are going from sun up to sun down.

And...we date.

Often.

More often than when we had 1 child.

We believe it's more important than ever when you have children.

Those beautiful, wonderful, adorable little people have a way of becoming number 1.  And the marriage ... before you know it...is really more about co-parenting than marriage.

That ... terrifies me.

Life goes so fast.  So fast.  And the thought of someday in the near future sitting down on the couch with a huge sigh as the last child has gone out the door...and looking at my husband wondering who he is...and what we have between us...terrifies me.

I believe in cultivating that now.

We date and we celebrate at every chance we get.  Definitely 2/14.

Why...?

Why not.

If nothing else, it's a great excuse to do something special and show love.

On February 8, before bed, Dean handed me an envelope.  It was gift card envelope. When I opened it, it said simply "to you, from me. I love you".  It was to my favorite store.

I loved the look he gave me. Completely pleased that I was baffled with the reason for a gift on February 8.

February 9, before bed...Dean handed me a gift bag.  I opened it to see an adorable pair of sweat pants...that I love.  As I thanked him and hugged him...he had that same smirk on his face...and definitely a sparkle.

February 10..as I got into bed he was smiling. "Look under your pillow" he said.  I did...to find an envelope. With a gift card to another store.

It took me 3 days to clue in that he was going to give me a gift each day up until Valentine's Day.

For me the gift's value...is not even close to the first thing I think of.  For me it's all about the fact that he thought of me...took the time to go to the store...looked for something...and gave it to me.  In fact, the gift card that was placed under my pillow didn't state a value and I didn't even think of it until 3 days later. It wasn't about the value. It was so much more.

February 11...I was given another gift..a shirt. That I love.  With a saying on it...that as Dean said "is so you".

February 12...I was given another gift...one of my favorites. A handmade card all colored and shaped like a heart.  The fact that he had to look up how to make this...was beautiful.

February 13...I was given a gift...a case for my iPhone. Not one that he would ever use. No, this was very much chosen for me. It was perfectly chosen for me.  It's hot pink and covered in rhinestones.  I love it.

When he gave me this gift, the children were there. Tirzah said "you really love each other, don't you...?" :)

I believe in love. I believe in the work it takes to make it work. I believe in celebrating it...often.

Happy Valentine's Day.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The good. The bad. And....the beautiful.

We left at 5am to head to Seattle. It was a winter wonderland the entire way. The pass may have been the worst we've seen in. The good news is that the speed limit was reduced to 35mph.  We finally arrived at Children's, a tad late.

Zihao was seen by speech first. He makes most of his sounds really well. She says he may never need speech therapy.  Yes. True story.  We are going to get his hearing aids and then re-evaluate after that.

Then Azlan was seen by orthodontia.  I loved this lady.  She was soft hearted and totally laid it out like it was. Interesting combo but I think I'm similar. I was crying at some of her news but kept saying "don't sugar coat it".

Ahhh.  Ohhh...Azlan.

So in her words "his underbite is severe. There's mild. Moderate. Severe. And he's definitely, definitely severe. In fact if you have ever described it that way...you have not exaggerated one bit."  She asked about how he eats meat. I told her it's always been a problem but now at his age, he usually says "can I have something else, I can't chew meat".  And she said he really has no way of chewing meat so he can't have it. Or biting into an apple.

She said it does appear as though he's missing 3-4 adult teeth and some of the ones he has...are in the wrong spot. His front tooth that's coming in at a 90degree angle...won't be touched until after his big jaw surgery.  That made me choke up a bit, there's no doubt.  It's really going to be obvious and we can't touch it...braces...nothing...until after his surgery. Because bone development is so vital for his surgery, we can't even risk weakening it.

She said because of the severity of his underbite he may need his jaw broken before his big surgery.  His upper jaw is just 'off'. It's smaller, narrower and ... ahhh.

When is his big surgery? We aren't sure yet but we should have a timeline soon. It depends on his eye teeth and when they come in.  What is it? He will get bone removed from his hip and grafted into his jaw to fill in the cleft of his dentural arch.

She said he has a long road ahead of him but that we are committed to helping him the best we can.

Then Azlan saw speech therapy.  This lady has seen Azlan since he was a tiny newborn...with a gap in between when we switched to Spokane for a period of time.  She doesn't come across as super warm...I can't quite read her.  However...yesterday...I read her quite well.  She started going through the pictures with Azlan and then turned her head to the side.  She went to talk and she put her hand up to her mouth. I started to ask what she was thinking when I saw a few big swallows and she said "This...this just made my day. This is incredible".  She then marveled that it's only "been 6 months since she's seen him last" and I had to tell her he's only been in speech for a few sessions of December and all of January. She couldn't get over that.  She said it's unbelievable progress. Really remarkable. If I didn't quite get how excited she was, the next provider came in and said "wow. speech is so over the top excited about Azlan's progress...what happened?" :)

Then we saw social worker and craniofacial.

Taizi's only appt of the day was craniofacial.

We don't really have answers and may not about Taizi. She wonders if he has his own little "taizi clock" that really ticks when it wants to.  He's not growing. He lost .5 of a kilogram.  He eats more than ever before and still is on fortified drinks.  Therefore the nutrition is not doing anything. He's grown 4cm since we adopted him...yet if you look at the chart it shows him grown 2cm then the next week shrinking 2cm so there is definitely human error in there and I might give him 2cm total growth...which...is nothing in 15 months with extreme nutritional changes.

After all of that we went to the dental clinic for Azlan. He had so many X-rays and photos and then molds made of his teeth. Poor boy was so brave but he was fighting the full blown cry at the end. I was talking him through it...counting how long he had left to have that nastiness in his mouth.

By the end...I was tired. Really tired. Was up at 4am to leave at 5...a long day in the offices and then back on the road for another wintery drive home.

Dean and I were talking on the way home about how often we hear "I can't believe children with clefts are considered 'special needs' for adoption...it's so cosmetic".  Yes this one is personal for us...but that really is ... simply not true.  Now maybe for many ... it is. Zihao seems to be one of those children.  Minor cleft, no speech issues etc.  But for Azlan...? It's not 'merely cosmetic'.  He's 7 years old. In intense speech therapy...has a long road ahead of him with multiple jaw breaks ahead yet.

This is a boy who needs courage for the road ahead...there is no doubt.  I hope and pray he sees the way he was made...as someone created on purpose...for a purpose.   He walked out of Children's with a stethoscope around his neck yesterday.  "Meet Dr. Azlan Walker" he said.  And I wondered...

Thursday, February 6, 2014

When 10:30 appts lasts until 5:00.

We drove to Seattle yesterday for two appts for Azlan and Zihao.  ENT and Eye.

ENT became more intense as we went.  We opted to do a full hearing test for Zihao as he hasn't had one since his ear tubes were put in. He shows moderate hearing loss in both ears. The plan is to repeat this test again to verify results and then do double hearing aids.  We are glad for a plan because we have known of hearing loss for a while.  Any of these 'aids' seem to have their list of positives and negatives.  The negatives are visible reminders of their disabilities...to other children.

Azlan's results were interesting. Seattle was baffled to find ZERO hearing in his right ear...something we have known all along. Since much of his care was done in Spokane, they didn't have those results.  They said to see a Baha implant in a child with complete single sided deafness is rare.  It is usually used for small/blocked/deformed ear canals and therefore brings sound directly to the affected inner ear.  Azlan's is routing the vibrations to his one ear.  While that is frequently used in adults, Seattle takes a more conservative approach and they don't recommend it for children. They said it can be information overload to their one working ear and not give the things he needs like localization. We do still see him do a full 360 when you call him b/c he can't tell where the sound is coming from. We were told all the things affected by SSD (single sided deafness).  Things like learning to read are definitely affected, distinguishing sounds in loud environments, localization.  They said the Baha is not worth all the risks (which we have had plenty of actually occur) at this age. Since it doesn't give him what he actually needs...was it worth 2 major surgeries and all the infections that followed...? Their thoughts...? Absolutely not.  In fact the ENt said if it were his child he would consider two different options:. 1. Do a second Baha in his good side.  Maximizing surround sound, he would have a Baha implant on each side of his head. Option 2. remove Baha number one.  He still is on daily ointment and has pus and drainage 1-3x every few weeks, needing an antibiotic ointment. Doing that for life without the benefits we were hoping for...? I'd have to stop and think about that.  Another concern we have now, is that while hair growth around the surgery site was damaged (a good thing in a way) there are hairs now growing tight in by the screw. Yes. Try plucking those on a 7 year old boy... :( They get caught in the hearing device and well...it's not that pretty. So we even discussed doing hair removal creams with a qtip at the site.  Lovely.
Best part is ... we will have all hearing tests redone to be sure we have correct results (which have been done several times in Spokane, all with the same result)...and then make a plan best for Azlan at that point.  His 'good ear' does have some hearing loss but at a frequency we aren't going to worry about since it's outside of the most common frequencies used in day to day life. To add a hearing aid to that ear and all the issues that come with that...for this boy ... no.  Not worth it.

So we went ENT, audiology...then they squeezed us back with ENT to discuss these results then we went to EYE. Both boys had to have their eyes dilated. Azlan took it like a champ...Zihao screamed enough to raise the roof. He then got up from the chair as I cuddled him and said "I did not like that, no I did not!" ... just in case we thought otherwise ;)

We went into a dark room for 40 minutes to wait for the drops to take full effect. When we came back we were shocked to hear Zihao has perfect vision. The doctor saw him turn his head to a full side to look at the chart, so she knows what we are talking about but ... results are perfect vision. Very happy to hear it...just baffled as to why he turns his head to the side to look at anything. We've said from the beginning that he either is deaf in one ear (results are the same hearing loss in each ear) or blind in one eye...and alas...that's not the case :)

Azlan has +2.75 in his right eye.  Honestly...though a small issue to most...my heart sank when I heard the news.  Let me reemphasize just how small of an issue this is. We are not over reacting. He gets glasses. No big deal.

For Azlan...his right ear is tilted at a 45% angle. Part of his Goldenhar Syndrome. That is the same ear that is completely totally 100% deaf at all levels.  All good. Until you have to put glasses on. He can't wear sunglasses...they fall off b/c one ear is so much lower than the other.  Yes...I'm aware there are google styled glasses for children like this...and let me say I will do what it takes to avoid that route.  It's one thing to have a funny ear...a very obvious repaired cleft, a severe underbite, a knob sticking out of your head for your hearing device, severely speech delayed...we won't be doing goggles.  So...if nothing exists to make this work...this mama is about to invent it.  We will go glasses shopping and find a way to keep them on his head if they can't lower one arm to fit his lowered ear.

Ahh.  The highlight of the day was when the ENT was leaving the office and asked me how he does in school. I told him I teach Azlan at home and he softened and said "Let me be honest with you...you have no idea what you saved him from. He can't function in noise with single sided deafness...BAHA or no BAHA...so he'd be swarming in his own world with all the noise.  He would struggle to learn and especially how to read...I fear he'd be pushed through, knowing little.  But...he'd be bullied.  Especially with his severe speech delays". He came and patted me on the back and said "He will thank you. Good job."

Yes...Dr...I do have an idea what we have saved him from.  I get the protection can only last so long. I get that many of you think I have him in an unrealistic bubble that is soon to be popped. Gracefully...I disagree.  His protection will help him accept who God made him to be...first. His bubble...will last long enough for him to withstand the taunts of others because his foundation is rock solid.  When he is told just how 'different' he is according to little Billy...he will know deep inside just how perfect God made him and he'll also know just how hard he has worked to be all he can be. Our job...is to protect him until he can protect himself.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Angels in my backyard, Mommy.

"I had the best dream ever Mommy. I think it was a dream...it was so real. There were angels in my backyard. And they don't look like what you think..."

3 years 8 months ago Zunduka was adopted from Africa.  He was orphaned with his twin brother as a little baby (younger than Nazara is now...oh my heart...).  With scars on his chest from the local witch doctor trying to heal him from some ailment...this little boy has had his scary baggage.  There were many nights he would lay awake in his bed and "see a hand...a hand not attached to a body...come and reach toward my face".  Often I would walk down into the boys' room before we went to bed, hours after they were 'asleep' and I would see this big eyeballs staring through the dark at me. Wide awake. He told me one of the worst nights was when the hand kept coming...he put the blankets over his head but when he looked out the hand touched his face then disappeared.  This was a repeated terror over months and months. We prayed over him...broke the curses placed over him and took nothing lightly. Knowing the spiritual world is real and more powerful than we know...this was nothing to ignore.  The little boy spent many days and nights in all out terror. Heart breaking.  He never slept alone, we made sure of that...but even in the bedroom with his brothers, he was so very afraid.

One night we let all the kids have a sleepover in mommy and daddy's room .We have a large sectional couch in our master bedroom and yes...there's room for 10 children in there :) This was pre-Nazara but that wouldn't have made a difference.  In the middle of the night there was a shrill that could still give me goose bumps. Dean and I bolted out of bed and Zunduka was screaming...breathlessly. I mean...he was screaming.  He kept saying "the hand...don't let it get me...the hand...it's coming!" and without a second thought both Dean and I started praying out loud as we grabbed him off the couch. We commanded whatever evil was in our room to leave and leave instantly.  Zunduka slowly settled on Daddy's shoulder.  What struck me is that later while laying in bed between Dean and I...he was still wide awake...all three of us were...he again jumped up and said "it's here again...the hand...the hand" and no amount of holding, assuring him was a comfort. He could definitely see something.  Again commanding whatever evil was tormenting him to leave in Jesus' name...we all laid down in an odd silence...and slept.

He's never seen it since.

This morning we were getting ready for church. I was holding Nazara and Zunduka said "I had the best dream ever Mommy. I think it was a dream...it was so real. There were angels in my backyard. And they don't look like what you think..."

I asked him to tell me about it and we sat down on the couch.  He was so alive. Sparkling. My heart was pounding.

"There was this guy....(he shudders) and he was really bad. Scary. And bad." I asked him to describe the bad guy and he said "he was like a warrior...a scary bad one. I don't know if I can explain it.  He was coming to get me...but while I was so scared and praying for this guy not to get me and hurt me...I saw angels. Actually...that's not true.  I smelled fire.  I quickly looked out my window and then I knew why I smelled fire. There were angels...lots of them...with big, big flames of fire...like torches.  These angels...you know how sometimes we think they just look like people but they are angels sent on a mission...? Well these did NOT look like that. They were men...with wings and they glowed.  They totally stopped this bad guy from getting me and I told them "thank you" out my window. One of the angels said "We are here to protect you".   It was amazing.  Don't you think...?"

Well here I am...at 10:48pm blogging about it...and crying.  I could hardly get through this post.

I love you Zunduka. You are so very safe, my boy.