Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What a gift Mady is....

She is almost 10 weeks old and what a precious time we have had with her. Most of the time as I shared before we never have a problem getting someone to hold her or play with her ( she is becoming so interactive with us). Even the boys will offer to hold her... but then again who would not :) Especially when she falls asleep like this .

Monday, August 30, 2010

It is coming along....

We were swimming and all of a sudden heard this loud noise going on... Jeff was cutting the hole for the window. I have loved watching the kids as they have watched the kitchen transpire before their eyes. We have our 2nd kitchen window over the 2nd kitchen sink- yeah! Next week the cabinets come in and hopefully soon after the granite for the counters will .... It has not been as bad as some of our other addition work.... Jeff is very patient with the kids need to watch and "help" :) You can tell from Ava's expression she is facinated with it all. Isaac has been Jeff's helper the whole time.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Our last lazy days of summer....

We are swimming every day ( sunny and in the 90's- heat came back ). It is our last full week of the lazy days of our summer. We have a busy last week... Our daughter, Molly is getting married to Mike on Friday and a reception at a park is on Saturday to celebrate ! Our kitchen renovation is going on, last minute school plans, all day cleft clinic for Luke and Anna at Hopkins, Jonas is getting his new eye, Tuesday is more medical appts., and then on Thursday Jenn's family arrives for the wknd. and Molly's wedding. It is hard to believe that the summer is almost over. My favorite months are May and June... my least favorites are August and February...the transitions from summer to school to Fall to holidays is exciting but I love the lazy days of summer....Soon our nites will be to cool for the pool to rebound to a "swimable" temperature so we will be closing the pools :( Time to move on to the next season.... and all that it brings... hopefully 2 new little girls :) Perspective- life is a process to me at how we view our journey... You can't change alot of the things that happen in our days but we can change how we respond or react. Even the end of summer is a new beginning of different things to experience. I actually like change...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Obedience into our journeys of adoption has always come with surprises....

Sometimes when you follow the Lord's leading into His will for your life it changes. We first heard of a little girl in Ghana in April. We were not looking to adopt as we have sometimes in the past. She as many of our children have come to us by others in the adoption arena thru an email to see if we knew anything about her medical condition. We had and are very well connected to our doctors , surgeons , therapist and other medical providers and so we are asked happens often about a child. We actually have a daughter with something similiar to what the doctor in Ghana thought she might have.... We met her by email and prayed about her needs and the Lord gently wooed us to ask about adopting her. We were told she could be and so could her brother. We sent what little medical info. we had of her and pictures to our craniofacial team at Hopkins and they gave us their opinion of all the possiblities it could be and how to treat them. It was decided that she needed to get medical care quickly and so we expedited all of her paperwork and got everything done in record time including our 171 H approval to adopt from USCIS. Our dossier has been over in Ghana since May. They were to be relinquished , put in fostercare and have court and then the passport and I600 process and visas to bring them home. We thought we would be home in June with them ... but the Lord directed our path another way.....

We had prayed for them , given them names and had lots of pictures in our home and cars ( so it would feel like they were already with us). Even our medical team was ready to see her but the mother changed her mind and could not let them go.....Now most likely this little girl will die because of her condition not being treated. She already was sick when another adoptive family was there. Why this happens I do not know and we are very sad for this little girl but we have done all we can .

So after spending a good amount of money and time already what does a prospective adoptive family do ? We prayed and even worked thru our emotions of not being able to help this little one. We also waited for the process to begin again... We have been thru this a few times but none where in all reality the child will eventually die from this and there is nothing we can do but pray. Now it is all out of our hands and the village where she is at has changed so we spent the next months waiting for another referral and to see how the visas situation at our embassy was going in Ghana. During this time the embassy was not issuing visas for some reason. We were allowed information about some other children during our wait but none have worked out until now.....and visas are once again are being issued- praise God for that. We still pray for the little girl with the tumor.

We are once again in the process of adopting 2 children from Ghana. They will be in fostercare and court will happen and then we will go to pick them up. Our next 2 blessings are not related biologically. They are 2 girls- one is a 15 month old cutie and quite a spunky one it seems especially in the picture. The other girl is 2 to 3 yrs old and beautiful with very sad eyes. She has an issue with her tongue- one that should be easily repaired... and both are waiting in Ghana for us .
We have felt the Lord with us through out this journey and we look forward to bring our girls home. Please pray with us for the little girl with the tumor and for our adoptions.... I will share pictures of them soon :)

Adoption News finally !!!!!!!!

I will be sharing about our adoption from Ghana finally. I have been wanting to for awhile. This week we finally were given the ok to. So later today I will be sharing all about our adoption plans with much excitement and even some reflections about some of the emotions that paps go thru and families and friends experience too.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

You gotta love a guy who wears a bright shirt like this one...

We were in Baltimore all day and we thought for sure Luke would have at least pins if not a fixator to repair his fracture... and Dr. Standard said it looked like the bones had not moved and he thought we could do a full leg cast for 3 weeks and come back and do a half cast for the rest of the time... The new xrays after he put the cast on were great. So we are home! Cate went with me today and she walked over to the cafeteria to get our lunch/dinner thinking we would be staying overnite at the P. House by the hospital for surgery on Friday... She said she was praying as she walked... and when she came back Luke had his cast on :) Thank you for your prayers ... I have no doubt that they helped.
Thanks - Mary for your comment . I shared it lots today and all agreed. At least Luke broke his leg playing soccer. Because he was never suppose to even walk :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Superman Luke- needs your prayers tonite

Our Luke last nite was playing soccer with his siblings and Olivia and him were going after the ball and she accidentally kicked his lower r leg. They carried him in and we iced it and gave him ibuprophen and this am I called Dr. Standard and we got an xray this afternoon and what I thought was just a stress fracture turned out to be a complete fracture of his tibia and a second stress fracture. So tomorrow we are going back to Baltimore ( Mya and Luke were just there on Monday for a check up ) prepared to stay overnite because he may need surgery on his leg to repair his fractures. He is one tough little guy and I hate that he has to have yet another surgery. He is such a sweet little guy and everyone who meets him falls in love with his endearing personality. These pictures are some of the surgeries he has had... the first picture is tonite on the couch- comfortable on the pain meds., Superman Luke was his 6 th b-day months after he first walked, The high chair one is 2 weeks after his open heart surgery ( amazing little guy to be so happy), Mya and Luke together as they always are ( she is his inspiration),the walker pic. is his first time ever to stand, cleft pic is when we met him in Ukraine,then the fixator ones show how tough he is and what he has already endured. God has a plan for his life though and anyone is blessed by Luke's presence and sweet spirit. So please pray for him.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

He loved the snickers ice cream we had tonite :)

Andrew was given a taste of the ice cream we ate for dessert tonite. In the past he would have hated it. Cold and the texture of the snickers would have bothered him.... but not tonite :) The last picture is how he will position himself after he climbs out of the high chair... I love the picture because it actually shows how chubby he is getting :)
Just when he reaches a plateau he surprises us...that is why I never right these kids off . They continue to move forward at their speed. For a blind child to actually enjoy a diff. sensation is a huge step... so yeah for Andrew !

Monday, August 23, 2010

Unlocking this precious one....

Gracie has changed so much since she came home Christmas Eve.....When we visited her in July last year she was a wall hugger- always on the perimeter of the room we were in. She had a difficult time concentrating or she would fixate on an object and flick it with her finger. She has always eaten well and slept well from the beginning. She was in pull ups at first but only for a short time because of all the new things in her life. She did not want much physical contact from Paul or me during our visits and often would ignore us and just watch or throw objects out the open window if we let her ( Toni had to park her wheelchair in front of the window to block this activity). It was to hot to shut the window because they did not have ac at this orphanage. When she first came home she was very sensory overload. We could not take her out for long because she would have a meltdown and just cry and want to go home. She and Andrew would stay home together when we went to church because she just could not last for 2 hrs even with Paul or I in our class or church.
This summer we have seen so much of her sweet personality come out. She loves and I mean loves to swim. She can swim without arm bands... look at her in the pictures and her smile. She is affectionate and loves to cuddle and be held. She loves to hum and hums lots of the Christian songs she hears daily at our home. She listens well for the most part and she can go out with us for outings and be content. She is inappropriately affectionate with everyone... she will hug anyone and everyone who visits us - even strangers but slowly she is learning. She will now watch a movie or have a longer attention span than she did before- the first picture. She loves Winnie the Pooh. In the second picture she is doing her "stretches" just like everyone else for our soccer playing last Friday. She desires to fit in and tries to please. She is still prefering not to talk but knows some sign language and when she wants something she does her best to convey it with signs or motions ( her hearing is fine ). She has gotten taller and has gained weight. She loves to sit in the kitchen when we are preparing food... begging for a taste :) Her favorite is to lick the beaters when we make a cake- just like all the other kids.
We have done some school work with her but she has trouble concentrating... I am thinking she has AD but it is to early to say. The biggest thing she has done in the past 2 weeks is she is now going to Sunday school in Mya's class without us. She is doing wonderful and Mya is a super sister all the teachers say... They can't get over how well Gracie responds to Mya and how well Mya helps her ( remember yesterday's post ?) I am very proud of Gracie and how much she has changed from the quiet , little mouse who was in her on world... Her world has opened up and she is one happy little girl now.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

An observation about my children....

I shared an update about Andrew a few days ago. I guess it is best to say that he has reached a plateau of sorts in his behavior. He has gained the weight , sleeps thru the nite mostly-even if still in the guest room, he does not need to sit with all the helps or stand because he can now. He will walk holding our hands and will cruise walk holding onto the furniture. He is now at the developemental stage of 1 yr perhaps...He still has lots of challenges ahead for him and I get frustrated with this. I want so much more for him or at times any of my children "stuck" in this plateau... where we are not seeing much change towards the positive and some steps back....I want to see Andrew not eating from a bottle . I want to have him be quiet when we ask him to be . When he gets frustrated I want to see him not slap his cheek. I want him to really play and not just discovering the toy. I want him not to play with his poop or not to vomit because he likes to also play with that. Sometimes I get stuck in a rut of dispair (not for long) and I am always encouraged by the other kids.

When I am down about how little I see Andrew change then it always seems like the kids ( all of them) will just not except the reality of what we are living at the moment with him and they step up... Step up to challenge Andrew in ways that I may have done or new methods to try to reach our little guy. Now instead of him hitting himself they have taught him to clap his hands... I watched Joseph redirect Andrew yesterday and you know what Andrew clapped his hands even though Andrew was upset because he was being told no- but he clapped his hands instead of slapping his cheek. Andrew will only take a bottle from Cate, Joseph and Leah regularly... some of the others though took it upon themselves and he will now take a bottle from Anna, Rachel and Naty. He still refuses to take one from me or Paul but we don't force the issue for now. We are the boss and he knows this because we are the ones who inforce the no or allow the yes and he is so strong willed that he has chosen to react to our authority by not allowing us to feed him- What a stinker but we have found ways around his personality to get his needs met. If we are particulary frustrated about his behavior - like the poop playing it seems like that is when the kids really step up ... they offer to clean up his bed, sheets, and give Andrew a bath without us asking. Now most kids would be far away from this but ours seem to have such a strong desire to "make this work" and I have seen their gumption, their tenacity about an issue one of them is dealing with and there is no way that they will let a sibling not move towards a more positive behavior . They figure it out and suggest ways or just do it... I know I have shared what great kids they are but they really are. They have such a heart to help and want their siblilngs to overcome and move forward. Many times it is a very unselfish act of pure love that I observe.
We have had some bumps with our Ghana adoption- No show stoppers but our referrals have changed... but I was sharing with our agency social worker a few weeks ago that ,"These children are the very breath of life to me. To watch them in action with their siblings has been an amazing journey for Paul and I. I am sad that we will not be able to adopt the referrals we were given ( I will share more later) but I would be more sad or even die if I could not adopt more children." They have given us the true gift of life- living for another. They are sweet examples of the love of Christ every day and I get to be their momma and watch as they support, encourage, challenge and pray and love on each other .

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sports shirts and jerseys were a huge hit with the guys

Yesterday we were blessed with a surprise lunch and visit from Keith's mom and brother, Eric and his family. They were stopping by to meet us and they also brought lunch . ( no small feat for a family with 20 kids still at home)- Thank You! We had not met Eric and his wife because they serve Lord in the Dominican Republic and were there when Mary Kate and Keith got married....They are special people and we love the times that Debbie comes by. It has been a true blessing to have the Johnson's as Mary Kate's inlaws.... We have not met one yet that we don't love. How many of you can say that about your kid's inlaws ? Debbie and Tom have 11 children and we have now met all of them and all have been people we love spending time with. We have even met other extended family and what a blessing for Mary Kate to marry into such a fine and godly family.
Eric was talking with our small boys about sports... a subject they all love to talk about. Today Mary Kate brought over a bag of hats and jerseys that Eric had extras of for his missions. Thank you - The boys loved it !
Eric and Holly are in the lower picture and Keith is in the ones with our younger boys handing out the stuff. They sure resemble each other alot. Naty, Leah and Cate were just watching the guys as they got their stuff...

Friday, August 20, 2010

My mamma's heart ached a bit tonite....

We met some other families ( 5) tonite for soccer. We met at Jeff and Jill's house and property. Jeff is our contractor/friend who has done all of our additions and is now doing our kitchen. He invited us and we had a great time. There were 50 of us- including Andrew, Gracie and me who were the cheerleaders. We had a great time but it was the first time that Mya had a realization that she just can't keep up....They started out with some exercises which included some running. They had divided the people up by ages and she just could not run even with her age. She lost it in the middle of the field- Daddy ran and picked her up and she just cried into his shoulder... My heart was crying too. I know that she will always have this struggle and she has done so well but she is growing up. Oh how I wish that she did not have to go thru this. I have so easily loved this child of mine and she has made it so easy for me too....She has the sweetest , most gentle spirit as well as she is such a fighter and she has so much spunk. She was just 11 lbs. when she came home at almost 13 months, paralyzed on her left side from polio. They said after we got her home that they did not think she would have made it to the summer if we had not gotten her out at the end of January.....God did a miracle to bring her home....We were shown her picture in Oct. 22, 2002 when she was only 10 months old. We were the 13th family they had referred her to... actually they were not referring her to us ... Just sharing her picture and asking us to share it and help them find a family. We took one look at her picture and knew she was ours and we were not going to show anyone else her picture. They called us Tuesday before that Thanksgiving and said if we could get our dossier together by the Monday after Thanksgiving we could travel on our first trip mid Dec... and come home with her in Jan...USCIS was wonderful and so was our agency and we got it all done even on this holiday wknd....our adjudicating officer even came in on Sat. to get our packet and gave us our approval that Monday. She has been a gift and actually lifesaver to Paul and me ( but that is another post). Tonite though my heart was hurting for her.
We had a wonderful time and eventually she enjoyed herself... even if she was sitting with me eating watermelon and popsicles :)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Happy Birthday Mary - We Love You !

Today is our friend and intern, Mary's b-day. She returns to Moody on Saturday and her last day with us was Wed... We said goodbye and it was really hard because she has been such a refreshing breath of joy, love, energy and her faith is lived in very real ways every day. What a blessing it was to share our summer with her and we will miss her. There are very few people who walk into your life and have some of the qualities that Mary has... You want to brush against her and let some of her joy and sweet sense of the Lord's presence "rub" off on you.
We ate pizza and chocolate cake with peanut butter icing and loved on her a bit with gifts and hugs. Thank you Jesus for our summer intern and loving us thru her beautiful spirit.