Wednesday, December 28, 2011


The sweet little smile in the middle!

Such a sweet little face!
They layer so many clothes on the children due to lack of heat even if it is a nearly new building.  Also, it is culturally correct to layer many clothes on a child.  The Grandmothers will tell you outright if you do not have the child covered up enough!

Analina is 34" tall and weighs 24lbs.  

She is 4.5 yrs old!  

Lets put this into comparison. 

This is Peanut.  

She is 30" tall and weighs 20lbs.
 She is 22 months and extremely small for her age (less than 1% on the growth charts).  

While we are concerned about our little Peanut and her size (err...lack of it!) we are extremely concerned with how incredibly small Analina is.  However, more concern came with her update.

In March of 2011, Analina, had surgery to repair her Clubfoot.  We only know she had the tendon lengthening repair done.  We do not know if she was serial casted to correct the position of her foot.  Ever since the surgery she has been unable to put her foot flat on the ground.  Assuming she can't put her heel down as it was not specified on the update.  

What does this mean?  

She struggles to walk.  She drags her right foot behind her while walking.  She is only able to walk unassisted for a few minutes before needing to rest.  

My heart just breaks for her.  

Must end this update with a few praises!

They claim she has therapy and they are trying to work with her to use both feet.  I pray that is true!

They are talking about making her a walker to help her walk easier.  I pray that is true! 

She is described as active and social!  
Her language skills are great!  

And she has the most beautiful smile! 

When writing this update on our sweet Analina I wrestled with myself.  While her pictures actually show her smiling there is deep sadness behind the walls of her orphanage.

I still don't feel comfortable going into detail regarding the extreme sadness I have in my heart.  When I feel at liberty I will share.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

~*What's Cooking For Christmas?*~

Here's what's cooking for the O'Dells in the next few days! 
(I will post requested recipes from the last menu after Christmas)

For Christmas Day; Going to Nana's: 
(I use raspberry jello, raspberries and add crushed pineapple)
Cherry Brownie Triffle
(Brownies, whipped topping and cherries)

For Monday: Appetizers and Desserts
Waffle Fries
Veggies and Dip
 Crackers and Cheese

~*I adjust many recipes to include a vegetarian (if not vegan) version and to include substitutions for our little Peanuts multiple allergies.  However, I must also, include items that as a Vegetarian (trying to be vegan) I cannot eat and that do not make accommodations for our littlest one's allergies.*~   

~*Merry Christmas*~

~*Merry Christmas*~  

May you be filled with the Holy Spirit this Christmas season.
May you be truly blessed beyond all words.
May you delight in the little things the Lord sends your way.
~*Merry Christmas*~ 
From the O'Dells

Friday, December 23, 2011

~*Love At First Sight*~

Has anyone noticed how the simplest things have the deepest meanings?

Mark 10:21 Jesus looked at him and loved him.  “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

I highlighted the section that struck me.  Jesus looked at him and loved him.  Wow!  

Did you get that?  
~This is LOVE at first sight~

    Jesus looked at him and loved him.

Don't believe for one minute that YOU are not loved! 

This was a completely random person that came up to Jesus; he had thousands of people pressing around him at all times!

Jesus loved this completely random person, at first sight. 
Please know, that Jesus loves ~YOU~ at first sight too!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

~*A Little Boy Has Hope*~

In a follow-up to ~THIS~ post, where Dalton found out he had a family coming for him.  We sent a care package to him introducing ourselves to him.

Dalton and Madison
Right now, at this very moment, Dalton is losing another friend but this friend is gaining a Mommy and sisters!  Michele met my sweet Dalton in February when she went to his orphanage on a volunteer trip.  She also met an adorable little girl who she is currently in China getting. 

Michele offered to bring our care package to Dalton! 
Here are a few things she said about Dalton.

"Everyone starting laughing when he was pointing at Baba (Daddy) and chatting on and on in Chinese.  I asked them what he was saying and they said he said his Daddy looked like a police officer!" 

Does it get any cuter than that?  He thinks Devin looks like a police officer!  He's already a hero to this little boy!
Look in the bag, there is our picture book! 
 Two of the ladies explained to Dalton that we were coming as fast as we could.  He was listening and listening and then he smiled from ear to ear.  He and Madison (Michele's girl) were chatting back and forth and they told Michele that Madi was telling him that she had a Mommy now and he showed her his if to say...I DO TOO!  
He looks like he's saying "Hey, that's MINE"!  
 I cannot even tell you how this fills my heart up to overflowing.  A little boy who has never known family has HOPE!  He will not have to spend another Christmas without one.  He will be surrounded by love!

If you are able to give a little right now to help us meet the financial need we KNOW is coming up I don't think we could ever be grateful enough.  We have raised 2/3's of the money ourselves and we need YOUR help to raise the last 1/3.  Air-fair alone will be in the thousands of dollars.  

We truly need to bless my mother with a love gift.  She is laying down her priorities for 3 weeks to care for our 4 blessings while we travel to bring home our two Chinese blessings.  She is giving up her paycheck for 3 weeks to do this.  We are raising a love gift for her.

If you are able to give please click on the "Chip-In" button to the right.  

~Thank you for your prayers and for supporting these orphans so they can come home!~

Enjoying Madison's birthday cake!

Friday, December 16, 2011

~*Does This Mean I'm No Longer Vegetarian?*~

I had intensive oral surgery today that involved removal of bone within just an inch of my eye, yet taking that large amount of bone out meant that a bone graft needed to be put in its place.  

Their grafting material of choice? 
Bovine...err...cow bone!  

Does this mean I'm no longer vegetarian? 

I get a kick out of that just because I have that sort of sense of humor!
Not that I am actually laughing at this point, quite the contrary, I am in intense pain.  Very similar to the pain I felt when I had a hammer fall on my head and the claw snagged my skull.

Hmmm....there's a pretty mental image!

 As for my vegetarianism I will go into that in more detail in the future.  Suffice to say; I eat nothing with a mother.

  I'm still chuckling about this cow bone thing!  
HA!  ~snort~ MOO!  

Seriously, though, I would appreciate prayer for quick recovery and pain relief.  The surgery was very involved and a large amount of bone was removed.  This is the 2nd such surgery I've endured in the last 6 months, with the first taking me a full week to recover from and this procedure was much much more! 

Also, my little peanut is not well yet.  She's been sick with her 6th round of tonsillitis in 7 months and while she's been on antibiotics for a week now and she's still indicating that something hurts.  We wish we knew *what* hurt!

So keep the two of us in prayer!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

~*Menu For The Week*~

Many moons ago I had another blog and the most popular posts ever were my weekly menus.  We are always looking for new ways to spruce up the cooking repertoire and it was proven by how incredibly popular the menu posts were.

I am in the process of a nice long article on menu-making, but until I'm done with that here is next weeks menu.  

Bean Soup (with locally grown cranberry beans)
 Burritos (homemade tortillas)
Pancakes (homemade; no boxed stuff)
Cowboy Burgers (recipe to follow)
Homemade Pizza
Red beans and rice (w/sausage)

We have to make almost everything homemade to avoid the soy and other allergens.  In the long run its a tiny bit more work but so much better for you!

We enjoy breakfast for dinner and we have many nights without meat we rely on other sources of protein.  Yes, its a bit bean heavy, yet, it is not all the same type of bean so there is less chance of bean burnout!

  Normally, I do my menu planning on Monday's, however, this week I am having major oral surgery and will NOT be feeling up to running out and about next week.  So, it will be done NOW and I will rely on the husband to get it cooked up if I am not feeling up to it.

What is on the menu for your household next week?     


Monday, December 12, 2011

~*Happy Anniversary*~ (Three days late!)

~*Happy Anniversary*~
to my husband of 5 yrs!
I had no idea what God had planned for us five years ago.
We eloped for legal reasons, yet, the day we choose to celebrate is December 9th. The day we stood before the Lord and man and sought His blessings upon our relationship.

Blessed we, certainly, have been!  

4 going on 6 children.
A cozy little home that we will terribly miss when leave.
A great family and supportive friends.
A fantastic church family.

Oh, the plans I had for our family on Friday, but it all went awry.  Starting with the screaming little one because she's sick, again, with her 6th round of tonsillitis in 7 months.  Although, the Doctor swears every time that its just another virus. 

Then, of course, the surprise I ordered isn't here, haven't heard a word from them, but it will still be a nice surprise when it gets here.

The replica of our wedding cake is pink and not red like I had ordered and he wrote on the top, right where I was going to put our wedding cake topper.  Its lovely, though, and I know it'll taste amazing!

Our older children are all out of sorts but its alright, they'll straighten up real quick when they realize there is cake on the line!

I'm sitting here laughing with a big smile on my face.
Because this is LIFE!  
Its OUR life.
Its beautiful! 

~*Happy Anniversary*~ 
To my incredibly loving and supportive husband.
I am so blessed to be married to you.
I love you!

I'm sorry this is 3 days kept happening!  

Thursday, December 8, 2011

~*I'm Going Home*~

To The Place Where I Belong!

We are so excited to introduce you to our daughter, Kang Su, who resides in Shanghai, China!  

She is 4.5 years old and is challenged with Spina Bifida (like Dalton) and Clubfoot.  As is expected, her medical information is very sparse. We do know that she has had two major spinal surgeries and one surgery on her foot to loosen the tendon.  From what we understand she does not have a shunt in place nor do we know if she has had her foot set using the ponsetti method.

Many unknowns but we do know this ONE thing!
She is our daughter!
I truly want to share with you the amazingness of the Lord's handiwork, in regard to Kang Su and China's approval.
  That is a separate post so be looking for it!

For now enjoy these 3 pictures of our Kang Su.  They are the only 3 pictures we have of our daughter.  We have no idea if or when we'll receive updated information.  

She's OURS!

The Lord ~WILL~ provide the funds to bring her home, too, this we DO know!

She's our daughter and we love her already!

Our homestudy was updated already and I have the updated USCIS* (Immigration*) paperwork filled out and ready to mail!

~Prayer Requests~

Financial blessing from the Lord.  We have no worries, though, seriously not stressing!  

For love and support from those we love!  We know that not everyone finds large families a blessing, yet, we do!  We know that not everyone feels more children is a GOOD thing, yet, WE do!

That things move a little bit quicker.  We are really wanting to get these two precious gems in our arms! 

We are also raising the money to bless the people who will care for our 4 children for 3 weeks while we're away in China.  I have created a separate *Chip-In* for that.  So, if anyone wants to donate specifically for that it is now available.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

~*Break My Heart For The Brokenhearted*~

I've met a few people in my life that are hard to love.  About as fuzzy and warm as a porcupine or the abominable snowman.  

There is one particular person that use to seriously rub me the wrong way and I realized I could sit around for years waiting for this person to change or I could control the one thing in my corner and not worry about them.  

And that is exactly what I did.  I can control myself, my words, my actions, my attitudes but I cannot control the other person.  Very slowly, ever so slowly, the other person began to thaw.  It was subtle, at first, with more discernible changes happening all the time.

I kept asking God to break my heart for this person, to give me a love for this person to the point that it hurt.  I recently shared happenings with this person and I expected the reaction to be negative.  I was so incredibly humbled that there was utter excitement from them.  

I have cried and cried over the overwhelming love I now have for this hard to love person.  The changes I've seen have been nothing short of miraculous.  I can only credit this change to the Lord.  Despite my own errors and failures along the way there is a true appreciation on both sides.  

Never think that changing your attitude is ineffective.  It can move mountains, melt the hardest hearts, and change the loneliest people.

Do you know someone incredibly hard to love?  
Have you ever had things change between you and what was it that you think caused the changes?

~(Don't forget to enter the giveaway!)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

~*Thanks and Giving Wrap-Up*~

For our harvest study this year we did two things and I will share links here.  

The first part of the post is here.

We studied the Legend of the Three Sisters.  Which is a Native American tradition that explains the growing of three specific plants together.  We never had our big harvest dinner based on the three items, maybe next year.
Next, we studied the Fruit of the Spirit.  Great way to incorporate The Word into our harvest study!

Here's your links and please come back and share with me how your family did this!  

~Legend of the Three Sisters~
Link 1
Link 2
Link 3
Link 4
Link 5

Fruit of Spirit links
Link 1
Link 2
Link 3

Please feel free to add your own links in the comments!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

~*Happy Birthday Sunshine*~

My little man is not so little anymore.
He turns 7 today!
  Its quite bittersweet this birthday of his.
He was merely 4 yrs old when I first met this smile....but that rotten RAD*, PTSD* and Anxiety* robbed him of a few years and it was very much like dealing with a large toddler.  

But, now?
Oh, but now, he is very much owning this number 7!  

While we're still a bit on the immature end he's come light years from toddler!  

Sunshine, you have my heart.
I am proud of you.
Your name means "Fighter" and you have proven your strength time and time again.
The Lord Jesus blessed us with you.  You touch so many lives with that stellar smile.  You love to help, love to build (and destroy!), you are all boy!  You are MY boy!
I thank God for you every single day!

~*Happy Birthday*~ to my Sunshine!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

~*Perfect Love*~

Every single November we meet up with them annoying fellows RAD*, Anxiety*, PTSD*, etc.  Its Sunshine's birthday month!  

The first birthday he had here involved us learning the hard way that any mention of the word "birthday" would cause the most intense anxiety, fear, and acting out.

This November?  It dawned beautifully.  Just now, just TODAY, did the fear and anxiety come out. TWO DAYS before the little man's birthday!  

I couldn't be more thrilled!!!!
Because two days is so much better than a whole month!
It's taken almost 3 years to get this little man to the point where November can come, we can talk, plan, dream about birthday plans without massive meltdowns! 

These children heal, they are not scarred by past abuse and trauma forever.  Stress can most definitely cause the anxiety to reappear, their personal triggers (holidays, vacations, birthdays, FUN) will always be triggers for behaviors.  

We teach coping skills, we teach him to prepare ahead of time for the known personal triggers, we help him process the intense emotions that come up.

1 John 4:18

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

They can heal.  
They CAN heal.  
THEY can heal.  
They can HEAL. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

~*Its Hitting Me*~

Well done, good and faithful friend.
You have lived an honorable life.
Rest now.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

~*Making The Call*~

We have the sweetest dog on earth.  

She just wants to please and is scared of everything from blowing leaves, to the wind, and anything resembling a car or a person.  

She's old.  
Going on 11.
Not showing her age in 2010...but went down hill quickly over the winter.
We live in Michigan* and our winters are hard on her 'ole bones.  Last winter about put her over the edge and we've been fighting a losing battle with her arthritis.  Her kidneys are going, too.

She receives monthly shots, many meds, and over the weekend her shot wore was sad.  She nearly bit the baby on the face.  I won't go into details but Praise the Lord the little peanut was standing where she was and she was not touched...but if she'd been standing just a little closer to the dog...we would be having a different talk.  

This was unprovoked.  The little one was literally just standing in the vicinity when the dog had a painful moment and she acted out.  But it showed us that we would be entirely too selfish if we tried to milk her existence out for another winter.

We'll get her comfortable for the next few weeks....keep her separate from the wee one and likely we'll need to make the call sometime soon. 
Have you had to make the call? 


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

~*He KNOWS*~

He. Knows. 
My sweet boy!

Pardon me while I shed a few more tears because they are coming hot and fast!

Dalton's dear sweet friend, Nicholas, (referred to as Parker in the past) was recently adopted from China.  When his wonderful family went to get him they were blessed beyond words to visit the orphanage.  
Dalton on left and Nicholas on right
They met my sweet boy!  
Nicholas and Dalton were able to say goodbye!
Dalton (on left), Nicholas and friend

And then...they told their guide/translator that they KNEW the family adopting Dalton and that we were a few months behind them.

Then (wait...more tears are coming!) she pulled Dalton aside and whispered in his ear that very soon she might be able to bring his Mama and Baba (Daddy in Chinese) to come get him!  
Dalton hearing the news!

HE KNOWS!!!!!!!!!!


What a sweet blessing and treasure to have the pictures from the very moment he found out!  

Now, we need to PLEASE pray for three major requests!
  • That Dalton will not become discouraged in his wait!
  • That our LOA* (Letter of Acceptance) will come SOON!
  • That we are able to finish financing this adoption! 
 Okay, folks, I am off to cry a few more tears!  I am SO grateful to Nicholas' mama, Tish, for giving me such a precious gift!  These pictures are wonderful!  

Have a wonderful day! 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

~*Harvest Study*~

Each autumn we embark on an adventure to learn about the harvest traditions of other countries and cultures.  This year we're studying the Southwest Indians (Native Americans if you want to be PC) and I'll go more into detail on that in a later post. 

We're also studying from The Word and discussing the Fruit of the Spirit.  I have learned that multiple websites assign a different fruit to the gift so we chose strawberries to represent our the fruit for today.  Today was "Love" and we accomplished a few things.  A strawberry craft, copywork, and a basket containing the fruits of the spirit.
Copywork and Strawberries (the brown on the left one is "chocolate")

Also, we have a Thankful tree each year that we cover with leaves of Thankfulness.  Our tree is a little bare as we will wait until closer to Thanksgiving to fill 'er up!  
Our Thankful tree, which looks like a 7-fingered hand, and baskets of Spirit fruit.

Here are the links.

Tomorrow is Joy! 
The fruit we're giving it is cherries!  
I will post each day what we use and I'll update this one after we get dessert done (strawberry themed of course!)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

~*The Results Are In*~

After many months (20 to be exact) of suspecting food allergies and a positive blood test (RAST) we finally saw the Allergist for our little Peanut.

Speaking of peanuts...she can't have them.
Soy, nope.
Sesame seeds...which I've long suspected, she cannot have.
Strange, right!?!  Sesame seeds seriously? Odd, but true!

We have long suspected moo-juice but have yet to figure out the intricacies of her reactions....until today!
She can have SOME dairy but not all. Its long and complicated so for ease we're going dairy free away from home where I cannot control what the ingredients are but at home we do know she can have some select dairy.
All of the above were on the Moderate to Severe end of the spectrum.

She was tested for several other foods that we have long suspected and while her reactions were not enough to declare them "allergies" she reacted enough that we need to proceed with caution because they can still develop into something more severe.  

Peanut, also, is allergic to both cats and dogs, mildew/mold and dust mites.  Again, they are at the moderate to severe end of the spectrum.  We do NOT have to remove our pets from the home, yet, we have adjustments that need to be made.

Rip out carpet in girls room and install hardwood floors, they are the gold standard and our girl is worth it!

There is a long list of changes we need to make at home but it felt great to have confirmation that what we long suspected was true.

There was a LOT of information to soak in and I honestly feel a bit defeated.  I think it might be that we DO have confirmation now and the Doctor was SO concerned about this little lamb of ours.  Its a LOT of moderate to severe allergies for a baby to handle.  And the possibility of her developing asthma or other allergies is quite high.  

So, in summary....she's a happy baby girl that has some health challenges and I have to be ON THE BALL with FOOD!  No joking or kidding around!


Before my little one came along I never truly believed in food allergies...its sad and I hate to admit it but I was a skeptic. I thought it was all in their heads!  Well, God decided to change my perspective by putting this little cutie in my life!

She's got food allergies, animal allergies, and environmental allergies!  I have been educated and I am now a reformed skeptic.  In fact, I know many react with the same skepticism that I once showed when I mention yet another noticed reaction to some oddball food.
Isn't it funny how this works?
I'm a bit less skeptical nowadays!

Do you need to change your perspective on something?  
Have you ever been skeptical about something?  
Maybe your skeptical about this whole God thing? 
Leave a comment; I like comments! 

Monday, October 10, 2011


 Bless his little heart.
As we were doing the long put off tightening of Sunshines hair he kept crying every time I tightened a loc.  It hurts and can be uncomfortable but not usually tear inducing.

  After giving him a few minutes of quiet time to collect himself we restarted (this occurred about 3 times) after just a minute of working on his hair he just started sobbing.

  I knew I was not hurting him but asked anyway and he replied that it didn't hurt but he shared a scary memory with me of his foster home. 

Two years he's been here and once in awhile something will stir a memory to the surface and it will cause him such pain and grief.  

But these tears were healing. 
They were GOOD!

What a sweet moment for this little guy to grieve, forgive the one that hurt him, and announce that he no longer was afraid of that person because they couldn't hurt him anymore.  

As his mother I get choked up, too, talking about this.  That lump jumps right back up to the throat.  I couldn't stop the previous abuse and neglect...I couldn't stop the trauma.

  BUT I get to help him heal, to process the grief, to grieve, to teach the sweetness of forgiveness and then I get to see the new creature that blossoms in front of me.  

Adopting isn't about being a hero.  Its not about being a healer.  It is about hope.  Giving these children the HOPE they never thought they deserved to have.

I love you!
I will always hold you close.
I will always cry with you.
I will always laugh with you.
I will always rejoice with you.
I will always HOPE with you!