Thursday, May 31, 2012

Surgery Update

Kemeri is out of surgery & in recovery.  Her neurosurgeon is happy with the way the surgery went, but is cautioning that the way her lipomyelomeningocele presented itself lends to a higher chance that her cord will retether at some point.  Please pray for her healing, for her pain (they are keeping her in recovery longer b/c she is having quite a bit), & that her normal functioning has not been adversely affected. 

Please also pray for the kiddos at home, especially the little ones that are missing Mommy & Daddy right now.  Joe will be going home a little later & bringing them down to visit tomorrow.  I am so thankful for my mom & the bigger kids for their willingness to love & care for each other.

Surgery Day

We arrived at the hospital at 5:45 a.m.  Kemeri was taken back to surgery promptly at 7:30 a.m., & so far, so good.  Bless her heart, you can tell from the picture that she was very worried about what's going on.  Lots of snuggling from the time we checked into our hotel last night to the time we had to let her go this morning.  Oh, how we love this baby girl.  Thank you for continued prayers.  We have been so blessed by the words of encouragement we have received. :o)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Day After Tomorrow {Prayer Request}

I've started this post in my head, but then I just couldn't go there.  I talked to my mom over the weekend, & I think she said it best.  When you have something "big" coming, your natural mental defense mechanism tends to tuck it away to avoid being consumed with the "what if's?".

I guess I'm finally at the point that it can't stay tucked away any longer.  This is a big week for Kemeri.  Our sweet girl is scheduled for surgery on Thursday.  We are facing a 6+ hour surgery & a week in the hospital to detether her spinal cord, remove a fatty mass that is pressing inward on her spine, & also remove excess bone that she has at the end of her spinal column.  We also discovered in her many appointments that she is tongue-tied, so they will be taking care of that while she is already under anesthetic.

I am usually very matter of fact with medical stuff.  You know, calm, cool, & collected.  Not so much as of late.  In preparation for this surgery, Kemeri had to have a test done to get a baseline for her bowel/bladder function, which  Afterward, Joe took us to lunch, & I was a hot mess.  We're talking complete meltdown right there in the restaurant.

I love this little girl.  I hate that she has to go through this.  I hate the look that she gets on her face when she becomes scared to death & is crying out for me.  She has begun trusting me...what is all this going to do to that trust?

Joe who can typically be found curled up in the fetal position in a corner when it comes to hospitals & ouchies became my rock & helped me start to put things in perspective. 

I need to be thankful.  Thankful that we have these resources for her medical needs.  Thankful that our process of getting her home went fairly quick.  Thankful that our children's hospital has been so efficient with her appointments.  Thankful that our family gets to be part of her story of overcoming.

Thankful that we get to be the ones that hug her, kiss her, & love her through.

First breakfast picnic.

Our girl loves her some accessories. ;o)

First time swinging with Daddy.

And just cuz, I'm sharing some pictures from play time out back with some of the kiddos.  I love these simply special, low-key times.

This last picture is Kemeri's first encounter with one of Daddy's famous chocolate chip cookies.  She loooved them (who doesn't?!). So many "firsts" with her, & this was definitely a memorable one!  Please keep Kemeri in your prayers this week...That the surgery goes well, that the functioning of her body remains in tact, that her heart knows that Mommy & Daddy love her sooo much, & that we can get back to the business of more fun "firsts" very, very soon!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mom is Overruled {Again}

You may remember that about 2 years ago, there was a conspiracy in these parts.  Basically, it was me vs. the motley crew of my husband & children.  I lost, & a bouncy baby boxer puppy entered the scene.

Fast forward 2 years.  She's still bouncy, but after recently having an underground fence installed to avoid daily games of chase in the neighbors' yards, I actually like Ella.  She's great with the kids, & so protective. To look outside & see her calmly sitting on the front step gazing out at the neighborhood is a beautiful thing.

But could we leave well enough alone?  Oh, noooooo.  There are days I think this motley crew of mine dreams up conspiracies against Mom just to entertain themselves.  This includes my husband. *ahem*

Enter Pebblez.  Well, the kids are calling her BeBe.  She's a 1.5 year old bulldog.  Joseph as I call him when he makes me crazy has always wanted a bulldog, but we can't afford what they cost.  Long story short, I think God has a sense of humor & decided to join the conspiracy.  Initially, BeBe was kept for breeding purposes, but when she had some issues with her cycle, the breeder opted to have her spayed & look for a family for her.  Really, Joseph?  How do you always seem to stumble into these things??

A boy & his dog.

Ok, I admit it.  She is very cute (in a very pudgy, wrinkley, snorty way), & she has to be the most low-key dog I have ever met.  Ella is determined they will play chase, but BeBe will only humor her for a split second & then she's over it. She prefers sitting with the little girls & playing barbies or curling up in a pile of laundry.  She found paradise when she found my laundry room.

So, there you have it.  And in case you were counting, we now have 4 girls that were born in 2010, if you include the two that are of the 4-legged variety. 

Yes, I am weak.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Livin' A Dream

The other day was a fun "Mommy" day for me.  K'Tyo was so excited about an outreach-type activity his kindergarten class was doing to benefit Relay for Life.  Each child was encouraged to collect some donations, & then on Wednesday, they were headed to the track to walk or run on the track for 30 minutes in honor of people that have battled cancer.  The weather was beautiful, & we had no doctor appointments scheduled for that day, so I put all 3 little girls in the stroller (improvisation is a good worked just fine) & headed down to the track to cheer the kids on. 

Of course, I was most interested in cheering for one kiddo in particular!  It made my heart nearly burst to see how excited he was that we were there to watch him.

I found it interesting that the shirt he picked out for this occasion says, "Livin' A Dream" on the front.  K'Tyo loves running.  We even had a chat ahead of time about how he loves to run, & I encouraged him to see how many laps he could get in during the 30 minutes.  K'Tyo is a great kid, but one thing we have been working on is being your own person & not a follower.  I thought this might be a really neat way for him to experience "doing your own thing" because I had a feeling mosit of the kiddos would prefer mostly walking with the occasional sprint thrown in. ;) 

Can I just say how proud I was of him!?!  He ran.  And ran.  And ran.  The boy in the above picture is a 3rd grader (the 3rd grade class they buddy with for reading came along, too).  K'Tyo's teacher & I laughed because he just kept looking at K'Tyo like, "What is up with you? Don't you need a rest?"  He actually gave K'Tyo some really nice compliments.

At the end of 30 minutes, K'Tyo ran 11 laps around the track.  Yep, that would be 2.75 MILES!!!  He only stopped a couple of times for a drink & a couple of times when he couldn't resist sprinting with a few of his buddies (he learned quickly that sprinting & endurance running don't mix well).

  I look forward to cheering this son of mine on as he continues to blossom & discover his gifts.  He may be livin' a dream, but so is his mama.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Not Starting Over

My original intention was to post a light-hearted Mother's Day post with some recent pictures, but I changed my mind.  There will still be some recent pictures, but I've had some thoughts swirling around in my head ever since an encounter I had over the weekend.

Saturday night was Kameryn's junior prom.  So fun to see my basketball playin', outdoor lovin' girl all dressed up!  Our high school has a tradition called Grand March where all the kids are introduced before prom so everybody can see them all snazzied up.  So, off we went with the majority of our crew to see our daughter/sister.

I made a mistake.  I've gotten too comfortable in the circles we tend to navigate with our games, church, etc...where people know us.  You know, no explanation necessary.  This was a whole different ball game (ha, no pun intended).  As we were leaving the high school with the masses, stopping here & there to say hello, I suddenly hear, "Looks like you're starting all over again."  Enter my mistake.  I had not mentally prepared for such an encounter & was caught off guard.  While I don't feel the need to explain myself to people, I am fiercely protective of our children & don't want them to ever feel like they are something less than the blessing that they are.

But that's how this comment came across.  This woman hasn't seen us in years, but her comment came without a smile & an undercurrent of utter disdain.  And all I could come up with was, "This is where God has called us."  Really, Dardi?  Blech.  While God has placed growing our family on our hearts, I'm afraid that statement leaves a whole lot out & makes it sound like our choice--our privilege--to keep parenting is some do-good project instead of the complete joy & blessing that it is. Seriously ticked at myself for that.  Seriously.

What I really wanted to say was, "Motherhood, along with my faith & my marriage, is my heart, soul, & passion.  I do not see it as something to merely survive & get over with.  It is an honor & a privilege, full of laughter & tears, messes & pretty moments, but that's part of being a parent.  Getting to watch as these children grow into beautiful individuals makes every tough moment worth it.  God has brought all 9 of my children in a unique, significant way into our lives, & I shake my head in complete disbelief every day that I get to be their mom."  In a nutshell:

 No, I am not 'starting over'.  I get to continue on...."

Happy Mother's Day, right?  Rant over.  Thanks for letting me onto the good stuff....

So fun to have Kaelee home from South Carolina!  Painting toes, a picnic in the park, & feeding the ducks have helped make up for lost time!


Dad teaching Kam how to fry fish like Grandpa does.

PROM 2012!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, that's her real hair (lol...someone asked me if she got extensions), yes, that's natural curl, & yes, I did her hair for prom. 

Kemeri got to hang out with KiKi during pictures.  So cute.

Grand March

Once upon a time people thought they were twins...Now people think Kyler is older.  When did this happen!?

Keshia (Kearsten's best friend from college), Kam, & KiKi

Finally, a picture with all of us now that Kaelee's home!  Not the best with the funky shadows, but it's what we got for now.  THIS is the reason my heart is so full...and THIS is the reason I hope that maybe next time somebody has a little somethin' to say I will be better prepared to respond.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Learning New Things

You know how I said yesterday that I love that every child is so unique?  That includes their hair, & I absolutely love, love, love my sweet Kendi's hair.  I'm doing my best to learn how to take good care of it, & today we experimented with a new style.  It's not perfect, but she is such a good sport & it makes for some good Mommy/Kendi time.  The only downside is that my baby is looking more like a little girl these days. *sniff*

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Two Years Ago

Two years ago today, Kameryn & I had the privilege of being in Ethiopia to meet our new son/brother.  I find it hard to wrap my mind around the fact that it's been 2 years.  On one hand, it seems like yesterday, but on the other, it seems a lifetime ago.  I decided to repost about our first day's good to remember where we started & how far we've come. 

Adopting an older child is a process with a huge learning curve.  I'm not saying this as a negative, but as the truth.  I met a sweet woman in the airport in China last month, & she was really struggling.  They had just adopted for the first time, & she said, "No one ever told me...".  I am so thankful that we had the opportunity to chat, b/c it took me back to this day in Ethiopia.  We have been on a journey since that day, finding our way in the midst of trying to keep a healthy balance between nurture & creating boundaries for a child that has known self-reliance all the while encouraging his individuality.  I think that even if people tell you, nothing can really prepare you b/c every child is different.  But that's the beauty...every child is different.  Unique.  Special.  A treasure to be discovered anew every single day.  Easy?  No.  Worth the effort to work through the layers to make the discoveries of who he is?  Yes. 

I am so thankful for K'Tyo.  His smile lights up the room (actually, it lights up our town...ask anyone & they will say, "That kid is always smiling!") & he is quick to lend a hand.  He loves sports, & is competitive as all get down.  He melts my heart with his compassion for others & the way he notices details & gives thoughtful compliments.  He has such an enthusiasm for life, & I am blessed to be on this journey of discovery as his mom.


May 2, 2010 - So, after having a decent night of sleep, we got up for the big day. The day you wait for & try to envision for a very long time. It was very surreal, & then became a bit comical. We were picked up in this van...there are many, many of these in Ethiopia, and they all have their own flare. Ours was decked out in fur on the dash & all kinds of other funky accessories. We got to enjoy what I assume was Ethiopian rap on our way to the orphanage. Not sure that's what I had envisioned, but I was kind of diggin' it!

The metal gate to the orphanage was opened, and the first thing we saw were toddler-age children everywhere, but we didn't see K'Tyo. So, we followed the other parents into the baby room & watched as they were united with their little ones. I was glad we got to witness this for a few minutes, but then we decided to venture out to see if we could find our boy. Just as we were about to step out of the door, Kami said, "Mom, there's 'Tyo". With his huge arm sling, it was unmistakably him. I think he was trying to figure out what all the excitement was about b/c he looked kind of puzzled. It's a little bit of a blur, but I remember squatting down & saying his name. He looked at me, & I pointed to myself & said, "Mommy". He came to me, a little bashful at first, but once he put his arms around my neck, he literally did not let go. I know I keep using this word, but it was very surreal.

Now, that was the fairytale part. The reality began to hit as this sweet little boy stayed very close during our whole visit. He never got far from me or Kameryn, but all I could think was, "I need to clean him up". I moved past the emotion of the experience to a bit of panic. I think a lot of it was being tired & it's also very overwhelming. We finally got back to the guest house, and I was into "roll-up-my-sleeves" mode. He was in desperate need of a bath, nail trimming, & teeth brushing. Lots of teeth brushing. At the end of the day when he was tucked into bed, I felt more like a nurse than a momma. I had to shed a few tears as I desperately was missing my husband & other children all the while wondering what had just happened.

The reason I'm sharing this is b/c I've said before that I don't like to pretend or try to portray perfection. Lots of things in life are hard. This was a beautiful but extremely hard day. But here's the good news: We made it through, and Monday morning brought a new day with new experiences showered in a good dose of God's grace. I look forward to sharing in the coming days details surrounding falling in love with my son.....