Friday, February 22, 2013

~*Large Family Travel; What Works For Us*~

We recently went on our first family vacation with 7 children. Originally, I had planned to bring or buy food and cook, prepare a menu, the end we realized that we needed to just suck up the extra cost and not worry about menu's, grocery lists and cooking.  We just didn't need the additional stress. 

Meals- Brought or bought plenty of snacks and breakfast items. Simple breakfasts of pastries and fruit. We ate out for one meal a day and had sandwiches the rest of the time. This worked out well but it does get expensive if you choose a sit-down restaurant like we tend to do. Our children brushed up on their manners and that was beneficial and we ate some GOOD food!

A few favorite eats of this trip-
The Hilltop in L'anse
The Hut Inn in Calumet
The Rice Paddy in Marquette (Aoy is awesome!)
  Packing- Its easy to pack too much when its just two adults and a few children, imagine how crazy it can get with *7* children! We kept it simple by packing just 3 outfits (plus the outfit they were wearing) and washed once while gone. We used ziplock baggies with air squeezed out for the little ones things. Worked out great! 
Entertainment- Our trip was an 8 hour drive (details in the next blog post) and they watched one movie going and one coming back. We listened to hour after hour of a book on MP3. This was totally the way to go, our children had to be quiet and we all enjoyed listening to it!

Next post will be about our trip and a few pictures...Have a great weekend! 


Thursday, February 7, 2013

~*This, That, and The Other: Part 3 Birthday Blessings*~

The Other:

For scheduling reasons we had our first combined birthday party for both Dalton and Peanut.  It was a very quiet day and for that we're happy...things around here have been precariously balanced and birthday's are sure to plunge things over into chaos quicker than quick!

Here's the highlights!  

Donosaur the party pooper! Crashing the party (Doesn't he wear purple so nicely!)

Helping mama with his birthday dinner....banana splits!
Allergen-free cupcakes for our little cupcake!
Daddy wore shirt/tie as requested by Dalton!

My little ham!

My version of a Cream Cake like the one he had last year in China.

The cake he had last year that he requested I make for him this year!

When I ordered this flower/candle I secretly hoped it was pink like the one he had last year!
I was so happy it was pink! 

It played Happy Birthday for hours! We cut the cord so it would stop!

Bad picture but he was so proud to sing for himself...and he LOVES wearing this little outfit!

She was SO happy to get this loofah! She said she washes her hair with it!

Cheesiest grins all day...

No real smiles...

Another sharp outfit to wear!

She wanted a new cup so badly....
Because Christmas is prior to his birthday Dalton was a bit overloaded on gifts...he never got A LOT at Christmas but I think it tarnished his expectations of his birthday....actually, that seemed to be just it...he was expecting and expecting...Gratitude is learned and that will be our theme throughout this year!

It can be so overwhelming for everyone and that is exactly what happened. It was an overwhelming day for several of our children....we have a break for a few months before the next birthday.

Overall they both enjoyed their birthdays and we are grateful for that!

James 1:17
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

~*This, That, and The Other Part 2: Analina's Ortho Appt.*~


Ana-banana had her turn at the Doctors office and some much needed time with Mommy.  We had our first visit to the Ortho. and we learned a lot at this visit.

What we learned:
Analina's foot has been corrected about as much it can be.  
The picture above shows how her foot sits nearly flat but splayed to the right.  It goes to the right due to weakness in the muscles that cannot be corrected.  Also, check out the size difference between the legs. This is normal for a clubfoot. The picture is blurry because it is impossible for her to stand with her legs this close together for more than a few seconds. She can't balance and falls over. I snapped about 10 of these and she fell over each time and this was as close to in focus as I could get before she lost her balance.  I will not share a picture of her little foot with the sock off...she can be insecure about it! Suffice to say she does have some deformity to it still and that will be corrected surgically at some point.

There is still a little bit of tweaking that can be done to give her a bit more stability in her heel, however, no major improvements can be done at this point.
Her right leg (w/repaired club foot) is shorter. The bones (tibia/fibula and femur) are also much smaller in length and diameter.  A very rare defect to have all the major bones on one side smaller/thinner, usually, its just one or the other (tibia/fibula or femur) but not both.
The Ortho believes her left side will grow quicker than the right and she will have to have several surgeries in the future to "tweak" the growth plates to keep the left side growing at a slower rate allowing the right side to catch up.

Here's the plan, Stan:

 She will NOT need her tendon re-cut at this point! 
She *WILL* have a modified version of the Ponseti method starting in March!  Two of the best things I could have asked for!
The first cast will be on for one week and the second cast will be on for two weeks and possibly a third casting on.  With the goal to give her heel a slightly better position and to lengthen her achilles tendon.
The bad news is that the weakness in her right leg and foot is permanent and nothing can improve that.  She is unable to do much with that leg or foot and she will always need an SMO or AFO.  It is weakness from her Spina Bifida or some other disorder that affects her right leg. We are not going to dig deeper into what exactly the cause is.  It is what it is and we'll rejoice she's as functional as she is!

We are excited that she will possibly have improvement in stability and know that she will have a very rich and full life...just at a slower pace than the rest of us. Maybe learning to slow down is something we should all learn to do!

On a side note: She is one hyper-vigilant little girl, she gets very little sleep due to this orphanage behavior. I began giving her melatonin last week and after almost a week she is getting more rest and better quality rest, at that. It is showing in her interactions with us during the day.  She is less prone to fits, is far more pleasant during the day, and overall seems more settled. 
Psalm 55:6
I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
    I would fly away and be at rest—

~*This, That, and The Other: Part 1 Sunshine's Eval*~

This: Sunshine's Eval.

I will never believe in coincidences in this world.
I do not believe it was by chance the Director of the Center we were hoping would eval Sunshine was holding his paperwork in his hand (which had been missing for 2 weeks!) when a cancellation came up!  

Only God could move that mountain!  The wait to get in is currently 6-9 MONTHS! God moved that mountain in record time! 

I got a call at 7:30 a.m. to come in last Friday just hours later.  The testing is intense and long, although they do a great job keeping it fun for the children, it can be overwhelming for these anxious ones.  

We learned a lot but much of it I won't be sharing right now....we need to wait for the final report and hear what their recommendations are.

We know that our sweet boy is so full of anxiety his brain is unable to work. Literally. His right side and left side cannot communicate AT ALL when he is at a such an extreme hypervigilant mode.  

There is more to this but until we have the full picture with the final report I won't be sharing more.  Just keep praying for our boy...trauma and abuse have made him one scared little boy. 

PTSD is life altering and that is the truth of it!  

1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  


Monday, February 4, 2013

~*Menu Monday*~

Normally, when creating a menu I do 2 weeks worth and then hit the store for supplies.  It finally occurred to me to make my life easier by making 2 months worth of menu's!  I will post below the menu...we will make each one multiple times.  

Skillet lasagna
Stir-fry (veggie)
Baked Potatoes
Meatball Subs
Taco Ring
Chicken Broccoli Braid
French Toast
Sloppy Jolenes (as my kiddos call them!)
Crockpot Creamy Veggies
Taco Salad
Chicken Korma
Macaroni and cheese
Taco Soup
Green Chili
Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Greek Salad
Beans and Rice
Black bean soup
Pulled Pork

What's on your menu? 
How far out in advance do you write it?

Luke 12:22
Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.