Thursday, December 31, 2009

A few December photos

We are working on getting ready for New Year's Eve here.  Well, soon I'll be working.  For now, I'm at the computer and the kids are playing Wii.  We love New Years.  It's a fun celebration and we've done it enough years now that it is a tradition that the kids all look forward to doing.  If you are looking for an idea to add some fun to your day/night, I highly recommend these bags to countdown to the New Year.  Here is what we've done in year's past.



I'll post what we are doing tonight later as I have kids that read my blog and I want it to be a surprise!

Here are a few photos of some of our December activities.  We picked out a tree locally this year.  It came from just down the road from my parents house in the mountains.  We didn't get a tree up there because we didn't have a way to fasten it to our new/large van. 

Yeah, this is North Carolina - cool sleigh and no snow!  (At least not where we live!)  LOL

It was fun decorating.  I had considered doing it while Eliana was asleep, but am so glad that I didn't.  She LOVED putting ornaments on the tree.  She literally raced back to get a new one so she could hang it up.  Can you tell that she is going quickly?

Eliana was helped by Rebecca in placing some of the ornaments.

Each of the children received new ornaments this year.  Something that reflected something significant or special about them or their lives. 

*Christopher got one with a recliner and a large screen tv with a football game on it reflecting both his love of watching sports and his championship year playing football. 

*Rebecca's had Dorothy from Wizard of Oz as she played this role wonderfully in a play this summer. 

*Joshua's ornament is superman as I thought it reflected his bravery and courage in facing Juvenile Diabetes. 

*Isaiah's is a snowman cooking as he has developed an enjoyment of cooking and experimenting in the kitchen.

*Daniel's ornament is a candy covered snowman reflecting his sweet spirit and love of candy.

*Eliana's is two bears snuggling up reading as she enjoys both - though not always for long.

We had a few times of excitment.  Once while we were out for the evening at a diabetes clinic and the older kids were home with the three youngest, they went out to get a package.  While the door was open - a bird flew in!!!    Christopher managed to get him back outside thankfully!

We also had a very brief snow.  Not enough to do much of anything with, but the kids liked being out in it while it fell.  Rebecca and I drove through more snow than we had here when we went to a friend's house for a cookie swap in the northern section of town.  Amazing the difference and we live in the same city!

Rebecca added fun to our days in several ways.  (Have I mentioned what a great big sister she is?!!!)  She put lights up in the bedrooms. 

And made cookies several times.  She even included the little ones in cooking if they wanted to help.  One day she baked with Eliana and one of her friends!  She is so sweet to include them!

I just thought this was a cute photo and wanted to share it.  It's Eliana and Christopher doing a "fist bump".  He is so good with her and has fun hanging with her. 

Off to get busy now and get things ready for the rest of the day.  I'm hoping that the New Year brings happiness, health and many blessings to us all! 

Happy New Year!



Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Some pictures from Eliana's Birthday!

I'm hoping to catch up with this month before it ends.  One of the sweetest days of the month is celebrating Eliana's birthday.  I had no idea 3 years ago all that I was in store for.  I had no idea the incredible blessing that she would be to our family.  I had no idea of the pain, heartache and trials that I would walk through with her either.  I've learned how weak I am - and that my strength truly comes from God alone. 

I remember a friend saying after Eliana was born that I would have a story to tell.  I also remember thinking that I didn't want a story to tell.  I just wanted things to be "normal".  I'm so glad that God knew better.  I'm so very thankful that He placed Eliana in our family.  God has used Eliana to open my eyes and my heart in ways that I hadn't dreamed of before.  She has changed me in so many ways.  I'm so very glad to be her Mommy!

Eliana's first gift of the day was from her big sister - a shirt from Signing Time!  She loves it. 

We went to therapy that day.  Eliana had a blast in the ball pit. 

Check out her hair!

It was fun to have a big brother there too!

For supper, we fixed one of her favorites - homemade mac and cheese.  I made a huge container of it and we all devoured it!

Of course there were cards

and gifts.  She had fun with this toy that pops up balls.  Can you see the delight in her face?

And of course there was cake.

She loved having us sing Happy Birthday to her as well. 

I can't believe Eliana is 3 years old!  It just doesn't seem possible!  Happy Birthday sweetheart! 

We love you!


Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Tea

I thought I'd play a little catch-up on my blog.  We did do some fun things this month, though perhaps not as many as I would have liked.  My heart just wasn't into things as much this year.  It can be hard to grieve and also celebrate. 

I appreciate the prayers, notes and encouragment that I've received.  Thank you.  This has been hard for my heart.  I try to stay busy as it helps keep my mind off of things.  I am also trying to be thankful.  I'm thankful that a family has come forward for Tonya.  I continue to pray for her daily as well as for the family that has commited to her.  I'm also continuing to pray for the many other children waiting for a family and still praying that perhaps one day this will be our path.  I'm not "over it" and honestly, this leaves a hole in my heart.  I know that time will heal and also know that part of my heart will always be with this precious little girl that I've loved through prayers. 

Please join me in praying for these children.  There are 147 million orphans around the world.  This breaks my heart.  I'm praying and giving and waiting to see if there is more that I could be doing.  Is there more that you could be doing?

I wanted to share one of the fun times we had early this month.  Rebecca and I were given a gift after we did the program with the Duke Athletes - a tea for 8.  It was enough for our whole family!  Or if some of them didn't want to go, we could ask friends to join us.  We ended up going with the a mix of the options - half family and half friends.  It was a lot of fun!

We went to the Washington Duke Inn - a very nice local place.  It was beautifully decorated and we went on a Friday afternoon.  We met friends and then went into the lovely dining area.  We each chose a drink.  Most chose a tea, but they also had other options for those who wanted something different.  Hot chocolate was an option for several of the children.  Doesn't it look delicious?

Pink lemonade was also a choice.

We sat and talked as we waited to see what would happen next.  We'd never been to this hotel for tea and I've never been out for tea so I didn't really know what to expect.  It was nice to spend time with friends in a relaxed and lovely setting.  Here I am with two of my handsome boys.

When the waiter brought out the food, it was incredible!  There were 3 layers of delightful offerings and enough for everyone to have one of each item.

The top tier included a cucumber sandwich, a pimento cheese sandwich, a devilled egg and a turkey sandwich with a cheese and dill spread.  The waiter described each item to us in a very tasty way - but I can't remember the details.  They were as yummy as they look!

Next, chicken salad in a little shell, a truffle, smoked cheese and a type of pudding.  (Now this is all to the best of my memory and I could be wrong!). 

The last tier - cheesecake, coconut cake, lemon meringue pie, shortbread cookie and a dark chocolate truffle with edible gold.

We talked about which level we liked the best and we all had different responses.  They were all yummy, but we each had our own favorite.  Afterwards, we had a group photo made in the lobby.

We also said our good-byes in one of the sitting areas off of the lobby.  The children enjoyed this carousel which was playing Christmas carols. 

Thank you friends for spending the afternoon with us and making sweet memories of this time together.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Eliana

I'm not up for writing much, but couldn't let this day slip by without writing a little something.  My life is forever changed because of knowing you Eliana.  You have opened my eyes, broadened my dreams and given more laughter and joy than I thought possible.  There is more love in the world because of you!  I'm so thankful that you are my daughter!

Your wonderful big sister made this slideshow of and for you.  She posted it on her blog and I wanted to share it here too.  Didn't she do an awesome job? 

Click here to get your free ringtone!

Create your own on Create your own Slideshow
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Thank you to all of you who have been and are praying for us.  It is much needed and appreciated.  Thank you also for your notes and words of encouragment and understanding. 



Tuesday, December 8, 2009

He said No

I can't tell you how long I've dreamed of a different title to a post - "He said YES!".  I've hoped, waited and prayed for this for over a year. 

Last fall, while looking at the Reece's Rainbow site, Rebecca and I were looking for a little girl to sponsor.  One that didn't have much, if any, money in her grant fund and one that needed support and prayers.  We chose Tonya.

I loved the picture of this spunky-looking little girl.  She was already past 3 years of age and could be sent to an institution to live when she turned 4.  I really believed she needed someone to commit to her by Christmas.  I began praying for her daily, faithfully. 

I should mention that I've been interested in adopting for awhile and especially since we were blessed with Eliana.  Even a year ago, I dreamed of adopting a little girl with Down syndrome.  I must confess though that I probably wouldn't have picked Tonya because I though I'd like someone younger than Eliana.  It's funny what prayer will do to your heart though.  The more I prayed for Tonya, the more I began to fall in love with her.  I know it must sound silly to some of you reading and I can't explain it.  She feels like a daughter of my heart. 

Last Christmas I so hoped that my gift might be a "yes" to adopting Tonya.  As time passed, I continued to hope, and dream and pray.  My prayers began in just wanting a family for her, but as time passed, I also greatly wanted the family to be ours.  I can just imagine her here playing with Eliana, sharing toys, crawling up into my lap and just being loved.

Fast forward to this Christmas.  There is a family adopting from the orphange in which Tonya lives.  They took new photos of her.

This created a great interest in Tonya and much money has been donated to her grant fund.  I knew in my heart that her huge grant would cause someone to come forward.  I still hoped and prayed it might be us. 

Roger has also been praying about this decision for a long while too.  This week-end, we really committed to pray.  We were both praying and asking for a sign from God to let us know what we should do.  I was honestly scared that there would be no sign.  I was frustrated that I'd been praying for over a year and He had done nothing!  I was afraid of what would happen to my heart if nothing happened. 

Over the week-end, we prayed and talked like we haven't done in a long time.  It was much needed for our marriage and sweet as well.  It was something that happened because of a little girl in a far away country that we have never seen.  She was able to do for us something that all of the trials and tribulations we have faced with our children could never do - draw us closer to each other and to God. 

On Sunday night, Roger thought we should adopt her.  Almost immediatly I became sick and stayed that way through the night and much of the following morning.  I felt better by afternoon after talking with a precious friend.  We knew we needed to decide quickly if we wanted the decision to be ours.  We decided to say yes!  I was elated!

I emailed to tell of our decision and we began to talk details.  We knew that Roger's age was a few months past the limit of the country's requirements.  We'd been told that was something that could be worked around.  Then I was asked if I had income and told that was also a requirement.  I was devastated.  Crushed.  Of course, my answer was no, no income.  I'm a stay at home mom.  Was there anything that could be done?  I was told that they would ask the officials in country and get back to us.  Another night of many prayers. 

I was confused (and in some ways still am).  I didn't sleep much and just spent a lot of the night praying.  I was also sick again.  I begged God that if this was not to be the path for us (adoption) that He would close the door.  It seemed an easy thing to me.  He could not allow us to have a loophole and we would know what His will was in the matter.  It seemed clear. 

Again today, many prayers.  Many.  Early this evening, we heard back.  They could work around the requirement!  Hope!  Is this the sign we had been asking for?  I knew that a no would mean that the adoption could never happen.  Was this the yes?

Time for more prayer.  Asking God for peace, clarity and wisdom.  Also asking for Him to give us the same heart.  This has been my prayer for so very long.  Years.  During all of this time of praying, I also came to realize that I had to give my desire for Tonya to God.  She is His.  He loves her more than I can even fathom. 

As we prayed we talked about things from all angles.  I know all of the many reasons that we shouldn't adopt. 

*We don't have the money - though the large grant would help so much!

*My/our plate is full with the many medical/special needs we are already dealing with.

*It would be hard for some of our family and friends and thus hard for us without their support.

As I prayed though, I was lead to a verse in 2 Timothy, where it states that God does not have a spirit of timidity, but one of love and power.  I thought of our fears and wondered if this was truly God cautioning us.

This is a huge decision.  A life-altering one.  We both wanted to do His will.  We both wanted to follow where He was leading.  We both wanted peace and to have the same heart.  I wish I could say that these prayers were all answered. 

As we prayed, I came to think that the door was opened due to the answer we got when it looked so very closed.  I know that God would bless us for stepping out in faith to follow.  I knew this would test our faith and would teach us much.  I was ready to commit.

When I turned and looked at Roger, I knew he was not feeling the same way.  He just said "I'm sorry." 

We told the children and Rebecca was also deeply saddened.  She has been praying for this little girl a lot too.  She has a heart much like mine. 

I would be lying if I said everything was fine.  I'm crushed and heartbroken.  For a brief time, we said yes and she was going to be our daughter.  I have hoped for this time for so long.  Something to be excited about, to look forward to. 

I'm thankful that there appears to be another family ready to adopt her.  I've prayed for this for a long time.  I'm not sure what God is going to do in our lives now.  My heart is feeling battered once again.  I feel crushed.  I'm thankful for the things He has taught me through this beautiful little girl.  My heart will never be the same for having prayed for and loved her. 

God bless you precious Tonya!  I know He loves you so much more than I do and that He has a plan for your life.  I'm thankful to have been a part of it.

With love


Saturday, December 5, 2009

I've added a Chip In

It's to the right in the sidebar of my blog.  I can't figure out how to do it in a post.  (If anyone knows, I would love the help.)  If you would like to donate money to help bring Tonya home, you can do it right there.  All donations are tax deductible.  Thank you for considering this!  Any amount is truly appreciated.

If any of you want to post this chip-in on your blog, I'd love for you to do that.  Or if you want to post about it on Facebook, twitter or your blog, please feel free to do that.

We have more coming - hopefully tomorrow - about a fundraising idea for Tonya.  I'll give you a hint, my oldest daughter has made something beautiful that we hope will help raise some money!



Friday, December 4, 2009

All I want for Christmas ...

Have you heard this yet?  What do you want for Christmas?  If you have children, you've probably heard it or maybe even asked it.  It's not a surprising question.  When we are stumped we often want to know what will really please someone we love.  We want them to know that we hear their heart and understand.  It is a sweet thing to be known and understood. 

When I ponder on Christmas and gifts, I confess that it leaves me feeling a bit overwhelmed.  There are a lot of reasons - from money to time to even the need. 

When it comes down to my heart, there is really just one thing I want.  Now, before I list it, I don't want you to think that there aren't other things that I would be thankful to have or even see as a need.  There are those things too.  (A chair that need to be replaced before it falls apart, carpet that needs cleaning, a gift card to Panera to enjoy a little treat, etc.)  I would glad give up all that and more for just one thing. 

Those that know me well, will see this as no surprise. 

I want this precious little girl, Tonya, to have a family.  (And yes, I would love for it to be ours!)

I want her to know how much she is loved by someone who will wrap their arms around her and hold her tight.  I want to her feel kisses on her face and tickles on her toes.  I want her to see the joy and love for her in the eyes of parents and siblings.  I want her to have a family.

I've prayed for this little girl for over a year.  During that time, I've fallen in love with her - as much as one can from just a picture and lots of prayers.  There have been many tears shed for her.  Why?  Well, her fate is grim.  She is already past her 4th birthday which puts her in line for a trip to an institution.  A place where she will receive no stimulation, no affection, nothing.  Most children die within the first year.  It is a horrible fate.  It makes me weep.  It is all because she has Down syndrome. 

There are many children like Tonya facing a similar fate.  Far too many.  She is just the face of an orphan for me.  Will you please consider doing something?  Would you consider making a difference in the life of this child? 

If you donate $35 (it is deductible on your taxes) to Reece's Rainbow, you will receive an ornament with a picture of Tonya (or any child you sponsor) on it.  It makes a lovely Christmas gift.  Think of those who really don't need "more" or those who have a heart that would be blessed knowing that you have given to a child in their name. 

***I've added a "chip in" to the right of this post in the sidebar of my blog.  If you would like to make a donation to Tonya, you can do it right there.  These are tax deductible donations as well.  Thank you for considering this.

For many families, the cost of adoption is prohibitive.  It costs about $24.000 for an international adoption.  It's not in the budget of most people I know.  Yet, I've seen families do it.  I've seen many trust God to raise the funds so that they can make a difference.  I know I might not be able to make a difference to all these children, but maybe I can make a difference in the life of one child. 

For those who may be wondering, we are prayerfully considering what God is asking of us.  We would love for you to join us in praying for a clear sign of what God wants us to do.  We know that He has called us to care for orphans and there are many ways to do that from giving money to praying to adopting.  Just waiting to find out if God is willing to send us. 



Thursday, December 3, 2009

Update on Daniel

It's been a long, long day.  We started our morning early by doing a service project with our FIAR group.  (More on that later.)  We gots lots of hugs and encouragment there and several friends even brought things for Daniel to have during his appointment.

This one was a huge hit - thank you Savanna!

We left early, went by Chick-Fil-A for lunch and then home.  I should clarify that this was Joshua, Christopher, Daniel and I.  The other children stayed with a friend at the service project to continue helping and to have a potluck lunch.  After giving Joshua his shot, Daniel and I headed to Duke. 

We arrived a little before 12:30.  It was after 5pm when we left.  It was a long, long afternoon.  We spent some time waiting - and more time in tests. 

We met first with the doctor who was very, very nice!  I explained about Daniel's sensory issues, being sure that it would come up.  She thanked me for letting her know, but I still wondered if it would make a difference.  She could not have been nicer or more patient.  She did a number of visual tests on him including checking to see how he viewed colors.  (He is colorblind.)  After testing and collecting information, we went to a different room.

The next series of tests was looking at his peripheral (sp) vision.  He had to  press a buzzer whenever he saw the light.  It didn't look good from my perspective.  The doctor told me later that this test was worthless in terms of information as she could see in her tests that his vision was better than it showed up in this test.   That was good to hear.  All I could think was that he had already lost some of his vision. 

Next came the drops.  It was awful.  He screamed and cried.  I had to help hold him down while he was on my lap.  He was distraught over this.  :-( 

We waited for the drops to take effect and then were back to see the dr.  She looked at his eyes and asked if he had had the drops.  His eyes weren't dilated.  She had to do the drops again.  :-(  Again, not fun!  More waiting.  Looking at his eyes some more.

Another room for testing.  I'm not even sure what this machine was doing.  Some sort of imaging.  He was looking at a blinking or moving green light.  He had to be still.  He is never still unless he is sleeping.  It was hard too.  After trying for awhile, the technician brought in someone else to take the pictures. 

One more room for the last of the tests.  In this one, she took a picture of his optic nerve.  He screamed when the light went off.  It hurt him.  I know it makes no sense to other people his extreme sensitivities to things.  It is real though and it makes me hurt for him.  And then he had to do this a second time.  He was again very upset and difficult to manage. 

Back again to meet with the doctor.  She pulled up the images of his optic nerve.  There is no clearly defined area (as there should be).  Also the nerves running to the nerve were showing signs of pressure.  She showed me a normal eye so that I could see the difference.  She said that this indicated that there was pressure behind the eye.  What is behind the eye to cause pressure?  The brain. 

She said that the next step was another MRI (for a different series of scans than had been done last year).  She said that she felt comfortable that there are no tumors!  Praise God.  She said this was based on last year's MRI.  I wasn't sure if things could change in a year, but I'll just accept this as good news.  She wants to find out what is causing the pressure on his eyes.

The next words just made my eyes tear up.  She said that she also wanted Daniel to have a spinal tap.  I know she could read my face and I didn't know what to say.  Of course I want to know if there is something there, but all I could think of was the pain that I know this causes people with typical sensory needs and then to multiply what that would be for our sweet boy.

As we were talking about what could be causing the presseure and what each would mean for Daniel, the doctor said she wanted to do one more test.  It's after 5 at this point and we head back to her office.  Daniel is not cooperative at all.  I am not surprised.  It is a non-invasive test though basically just "massaging his eyelids" with a tool that helps her to look at his eye (looked like an ultrasound).  I offer an incentive for cooperating and we convince him that he can do this while sitting on my lap.  As she scans his eyes, she sees calcification behind one of the eyes. 

She said this could be the cause of the pressure.  She said that instead of going forward with the MRI and spinal tap, that we'll just wait 3-4 months and come back for a repeat of the tests.  While I don't like the idea of another day like this, I'll take it over the other options!  If things stay the same, there may be no action needed at that time.  It does sound like this is something that will continue to be monitored though over his life. 

If we see changes - in vision or having headaches, this could indicate other problems.  The only risk she told me of related to this calcification was a type of stroke.  She also said it was a fairly common type of stroke and shouldn't be a worry.  (It seemed like this was something in adulthood too.) 

I know this seems cut and dried.  I'm worn-out.  Daniel fell asleep before we were a few miles from Duke.  It was a very draining day for both of us. 

In the midst of it all, I find that I have reason to be thankful.  I'm thankful that there is no cause to believe there is a tumor.  I'm thankful that he will not have to have a spinal tap.  I'm thankful that for now, we can just wait and see how things progress.  I'm thankful that he has no other symptoms causing concern like headaches or vision issues.  I'm thankful for an incredibly kind doctor and staff.  VERY kind and compassionate!  I'm thankful we didnt have to wait a month for answers!  I wish I had all of this in writing.  I wonder if I'm forgetting something or mixing things up.  It's a lot to take in.  She did give me a number and said I could call if I had questions. 

I'm thankful for our little boy.  I'm thankful for all he adds to our days and our lives.  While we don't have all the answers, things for now look pretty good.  We'll just wait and see how things look in 3-4 months and try not to worry about it until then. 

Thank you for praying for us.  It means a lot to all of us. 

With love


Wednesday, December 2, 2009


We spent Thanksgiving in the mountains with my parents and my sister's family.  We had a wonderful time together.  This is the first time we've all been together since this summer.  We spent a week together at the beach just before Joshua was diagnosed with diabetes. 

As I look through my pictures, I realize that there were a lot of things I didn't get pictures of this year!  I should have taken more pictures.  Oh well. 

We enjoyed a traditional meal with lots of yummy foods.  The table was beautifully decorated.

Rebecca added a new piece to the decorations this year in placecards.  She made these very cute turkeys for each person!  Didn't she do a great job?

We had a nice selection of pies for dessert (the only food I got a picture of this year).  Rebecca made 5 different pies for us to choose from.  She also calculated the carbs on each of the pies too! 

We had a relaxing time while we were there.  We played games.

The girls did some knitting.

We enjoyed a play that Rebecca wrote for Thanksgiving (which was really cute!).

We read books, talked and did some organizing.  Roger took some of our children to a Christmas parade and they enjoyed getting some candy.  It was fun to just spend time with family.

Eliana got an early birthday present.  A stuffed animal that sings Happy Birthday.  It's mouth moves and so does the animal.  Eliana loves it!  She quickly learned how to make it sing and has been having a great time with it.  (And thankfully we didn't have to listen to it all the way home either.) 

Thanks Mom and Dad for having us up.  We had a great time and appreciate your hospitality!  We look forward to having you here sometime soon.

I have much for which I'm thankful and enjoy this holiday and the traditions that go with it.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Prayers please for Daniel

On Thursday of this week, Daniel will be going to the Duke Eye Center to meet with a neuro opthamologist.  We have been told that he will be there for 3 hours of testing, though I don't know what any of the tests will be.  I do know that his eyes will be dilated and that is really about it. 

I think 3 hours of testing could be hard for anyone.  I know that having your eyes dilated is no fun.  For our sweet little boy with sensory processing issues though, it is all magnified and compounded.  It's going to be a hard day for him.  I'm going to be taking things with me to try to help, but it's hard to plan for something when you really have no idea what is going on.  (If anyone has suggestions, I'm open to hearing them.) 

For those who may have missed an earlier post on this, Daniel has "prominent optic nerve pallor".  This was seen at his last routine eye appt in Oct.  She has referred us to a specialist to see if there is something going on.  I've googled a little bit to find out more of what we are dealing with.  Pallor is also sometimes called "atrophy".  It also appears a little more worrisome that it is in just one eye. 

I have to be honest -  I'm scared.  I try not to think about it much and that is helpful.  (The Scarlet O'Hara method of dealing with things.)  There are times though when I have to face it.  I'm not trying to borrow trouble and thus try not to think on the "what ifs".  I still find that I am fearful of what the future my hold for our little boy.  Scared that there will be something.  Scared that it will be another something "big".  Again though, I don't dwell on it. 

I know God is holding our little boy.  I know He loves us.  I know He is with us.  It is really all I can hold on to right now. 

I've been told that it may take a month to get the results back.  I'm really hoping that is not the case!  I would love to know more on Thursday.  I really just want to hear that he is fine. 

Thank you for praying once again for our family.

With love,


P.S.   I've been trying last night and again today to post pictures and am having troubles with photobucket.  Not sure what is going on there, but am hoping it is fixed soon.  If not, I may be posting somewhere else and will certainly update here.