Thursday, June 28, 2012

A big deal?

So I ran into an acquaintance I haven't seen for probably a year and a half now.  The last time I saw her I was WAY pregnant with Autum.  So she was not aware of the whirlwind last 2 years we have had, giving birth to her and then adopting Blake a year later. I began to unveil the shortened version of our experience with feeling God's leading to adopt a child, then finding out about Reece's Rainbow, then finding Blake, raising the money, traveling, arriving home, and then the past 6 months worth of adjusting, etc.  As the story unfolded, her eyes began to tear up, she kept covering her mouth with her hand as I told of the conditions that Blake would have been exposed to had he lived in the orphanage another 2 years.  She would gasp as I shared his progress now.  She would smile at my description of his silly laugh and his ornery 2-year old boy behaviors.  And finally as my story ended, she kept nodding her head in disbelief, I guess, at what we did.  She kept saying there needs to be more people like Jerad and I in this world, doing what we did. And I agree 100% with that...but I felt myself getting frustrated mainly, because I honestly, truly don't feel like we did anything spectacular.  Don't get me wrong, there are some days where it does seem so surreal when I look at Blake, like we didn't even go to Ukraine, to get him, its like I gave birth to him as I did the girls.  Probably because so much has happened since then, it seems like a dream.  Our lives are so different now.  But, as I was saying, I don't feel like we are 'special' people, like we should be looked upon as any differently than anyone else.  I just can't wrap my head around why she was giving me such compliments and so amazed at our story.  It was hard for me to accept the compliments actually.  I didn't want too.

As I was driving home from there, I kept thinking about our discussion and my initial reaction. 

Did we really do something crazy?
Am I nuts for not thinking we did anything spectacular?
Why was her reaction bothering me so much?

I am not sure.  A couple of things came to my, is that God has humbled us in so many ways through this experience because He truly is and was our reason for going, He was the one who made the way for us to go, He is the one who has gotten us through this past 6-month period of adjusting, and He is the one who should receive the credit.  And maybe that's why I couldn't accept the praise, because I don't feel we did anything...we were just the hands and feet to God's calling.  People do that everyday.

Another reason was that maybe I haven't really let the whole experience sink in yet.  I haven't really let myself dwell on what we saw, what we did, who we met, and how we are supposed to move forward with that information.  Maybe out of fear I haven't addressed this, maybe out of naivete, maybe because I haven't had or made time, and maybe because I haven't felt a real clear leading to what we are supposed to do based on this knowledge.  Right now my focus is my family...that's it.

And finally, maybe because God is protecting me from this prideful feeling of accomplishment that I could easily attach to our recent adventure.  I prayed and prayed to be changed, humbled.  To not be allowed to forget my experience and the emotions tied to it.  For my heart to always be touched and softened by the needs of the orphans, the children of Ukraine, and the mothers of children with special needs.  So I pray and pray for these things.  And maybe that is God's hand of protection over me.  Maybe so.

But anyway, I truly feel like any person can do what we did.  No degrees, no full bank accounts, no previous experience.  Just love.  Just hope.  Just faith.  Just courage.

 That's what I want to be known for.  Being courageous. (in Christ)  Being faithful.  (in Christ)  Being hopeful.  (in Christ) 

And most importantly, showing love. (in Christ)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Our 8th!

This is the most recent pic I have of us.  Jerad looks half asleep..pretty sure he worked the night before.

Jerad and I celebrated 8 years of marriage, this past week.

We spent the day together, childless, shopping and wandering around Wichita.  No timeline, no rushing, no McDonald's, no poopy diapers, no places we needed to go.  It was the weirdest feeling ever! Ha!

We browsed our typical places...Dick's Sporting Goods, Cabela's, Target, and the Mall.  We ate lunch at Cheddar's.  Then we didn't know what else to do...

We talked about our past 8 years.  We have lived in 6 different houses, in 2 cities, and 2 states.  We have traveled to Ukraine.  New York.  Florida.  New Mexico.  Missouri.  In looking back over our marriage so far, we laughed about how different things are now compared to when we were starting out in 2004.  I remember filling out a survey in our pre-marital classes about who we thought should do what chores.  I very distinctly remember saying that we would split everything evenly right down the middle.  He would do some and I would do some....well...

Let's just say it didn't work that way.

I do the chores until I get past being mad because he doesn't see the pile of dishes and laundry lying around screaming to be done...and I simply ask him to help.  And he always does.  Every time.  I just have to get over myself and ask.

I change most of the diapers.  Because I'm home more.  He still gags at a few of the poopy ones.

He still hates my large v-neck tees with pockets that are SO comfy and my inside-out sweats I adore...and I still hate that he leaves his wet towel on my side of the bed every night after he showers and that his underwear never make it in the hamper...just beside it.

We haven't gone on any amazing cruises or extravagant vacations.  We laugh that those types of trips just aren't even on our radar.  Never really thought about going.

We are usually in bed by 10 and up by 6.  Never been night owls.

We have lots of inside jokes that we lie in bed at night and laugh about until we are nearly in tears.  Love those conversations!

We think about similar things a lot.  It's kind of cool.  He'll say something that I was just thinking about that day, or vice versa.

We are both tight-wads with our money.  Save. Save. Save. We work hard for the money.  Makes it harder to spend. 

We both love to give too, though.  Our time.  Hearts.  Money.  Talent.  Our children on particular days...

We make pretty cute kids, if I do say so myself.  Very energetic and sociable (well, almost all of them..Autum's still developing in that area) Guess it's the DNA...our parents say its paybacks...whatever!

We love to just be.  Chill.  Out on the lake.  Sitting on the back deck with a cold drink in hand.  Relaxing by a fire.

But we also love to mountain bike, kayak, ski, swim, run, fish, hunt...

Our survey from pre-marital classes is quite humorous to look at now, because what I thought would be so important and perfect is really not.  Really not important, actually. 

We just do what we need to do.  It hasn't always been easy and I'm sure won't be.  It's really tough, actually.  It's not always fun.  But it's amazing and incredible at the same time.

Happy Anniversary!  Here's to 8 more!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


I remember the day I posted this blog post.

I remember the excitement, fear, uncertainty, overwhelmed feeling of stepping out in faith with no clear picture or path to the end.

I remember knowing with certainty this was supposed to be our journey.  God laid this desire on our hearts and we were to follow.  I knew that!

 I also remember this...days of daydreaming, wondering, hoping, and thinking about what ours days would be like with Blake around.

And also this...being completely overwhelmed and in awe of the generous outpouring of love and support for us during this big step in our lives.

Most clearly this....something I cannot describe, convince someone of, or help them feel until they step forward in faith, and experience the freedom of living in God's grace in full faith...on his own.  As I described it:  It Will BLOW Your SOCKS off!!

And this...the struggles, uncertainty, and fear that creeps in. It's a constant battle of surrendering.  And that's not easy.

I'm reminiscing on all these blogs because these feelings have been reawakened in me again--NO we are not adopting again....yet :)---but I am blessed with the opportunity to live vicariously through another family I have just recently come to know. I am positive I have come to know them for this very purpose!  They are a family who have been called to adopt as well.  Haiti is on their hearts, and has been for years!  And they have just clearly heard the call, the prompting by the Spirit to:

Chad and Sarah.

All because of heart-wrenching situations like this...we can't be people of God, as we claim to be, and not do something. 

Well, their journey is just unfolding.  They have been invited to Haiti at the end of this summer to visit, see and feel the need, interact with the people and culture, and be lead to their next step in helping.  They are ready and willing and God is making the way.

I am so in love with the grace they are being given and the outpouring of love they are receiving from their 'community!'  God is moving mountains already.  This is the stuff!  This is what I so dearly want people to experience and feel.  Yet like I said before, it can't be described or put in words.  It has to be felt, at a real level, in a stepping out in full trust and faith kind of way.  That's it!  And it's amazing.  I'm giddy hearing about how they are just floored with all that is happening and how people are moving, how hearts are being changed, and how God is being glorified!

This Friday we are having a HUGE garage sale in McPherson in front of Kyle's Discount Store on Main St. from 9 am to 6 pm.  There are so many things for sale: furniture, strollers, sports equipment, name-brand clothes for kids and adults, DVD's, toys, baby items and much more!  All proceeds will go toward the funding of this family's journey.  Remember this??  They are staring these numbers in the face.  And I've been there.  It's overwhelming and daunting.  But is obviously doable!  With your help!

Will you?

We'll be there with our famous lemonade and lots of smiles on our faces!  And Blake will be there, as proof of what God can do!  Are you with me???

The Muehler kiddos!
See you Friday, June 22nd.
Go here to read more about this family...

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Value of a Dollar

This was the scene a few nights ago...

Leah was taking a shower, while I cleaned up the swampy water the two babes had left on the  floor from their bath time.  Autum had escaped me before I could get a diaper on her and took the rare advantage of playing in Leah's room while she was unaware of her being there.  Blake was getting his pajamas on thanks to Jerad.  Leah got out and dried off and headed to her room.  A few seconds later Leah was yelling and in a first thought was that Autum had removed Rapunzel from her castle for the 10th time that day, my second thought was that I had never gotten Autum's diaper on her...ohhhh no...

I hurry in...I head toward her room and am about run over by Autum's little trotting legs moving out of Leah's room as fast as they will carry her.  But Leah was right behind her.  I was confused because Autum had nothing in her hands, so I wasn't sure why Leah was in a tizzy.  I asked Leah what was the matter and she said Autum took her dollar...

Again, I looked at Autum and there was no visible proof of her stealing anything, I even did a mouth sweep to make sure.  As the words began to spill out of my mouth that Autum did not have her dollar, Autum took off walking into the other room...

With a crisp, brand-new dollar bill dangling from between her little bum cheeks...
Next issue..who was going to get it out... I asked Leah how bad she needed it and let her do the deed.  I guess concession stand money for the pool is worth a lot.

We still have no idea how it got there or how it remained in such perfect shape.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Questions I Get

Anytime we are in public I always feel eyes scanning my children as we pass by, first people are drawn to Leah's red hair, then they scan to Autum usually because she is screaming or I'm holding her, and then they glance at Blake...which is usually followed by another glance.  Like they notice he appears 'different' but aren't quite sure...sometimes the conversation ends there...I rarely get a glance unless I'm wearing my knee-high neon pink socks or something. 
Wacky Sock Day for Leah, just another day of work for me! :)

..which is fine.

Other times it turns into "where does she get her red hair?" (after observing Jerad and I neither one sport the ginger top) Or "where does he get his arm?" (after watching Blake clear out the groceries in the back of the basket...leaving a trail throughout the entire store)  Or "she must like to eat!" (referring to Autum's little chubbies) and also "she's got some lungs!"  And finally, "how did you end up with 3 kids with entirely different hair colors?"

Most often I hear "are they twins?" This is where my dilemma lies...I usually say, "No, they are 11 months apart."  This will get some eyebrow raises and a "you are busy, aren't you?"  Not sure what they are referring too at this point... :)  Sometimes I just leave it at that...and that is what I prefer to do.  I hate having to distinguish that "we adopted him"...."the girls are homegrown" every time I'm asked this question.  I don't like this clarification to become his identity, as if he is not part of our family completely.  Yet, sometimes talking about him being adopted opens the doors to share about our journey, how God placed this little man on our hearts, and for them to hear about his happy ending.  So I always have an argument in my head with how to answer this common question.

Therefore my solution is to say "yes, they are twins!" 

Another dilemma I have is whether or not to help people understand that Blake has Down Syndrome.  I always feel like people know he has a diagnosis of some sort, yet are unsure how to ask, whether it's appropriate to ask, or what to ask.  First of all, I have NO problem with someone asking me about him.  In fact, I LOVE to brag about his progress, what my hopes and dreams are for him, and what he means to me now.  I honestly feel more awkward with the silence and staring. 

Also, in my experience with working with adults with special needs, I have learned that asking "what is his/her diagnosis?" is an appropriate and proper way to ask about a person.  I have also learned that many times you can ask him/her, especially if he/she has Down Syndrome, and he/she will be thrilled to tell you about himself.  Don't talk over him/her as if he/she isn't in the room.  Many have very interesting stories and love the attention.  I can't wait for Blake to share his story someday.  So be ready to ask him!

 Here is a clip of some of my clients during one of our exercise sessions.  You can view more at

Monday, June 11, 2012

Grandpa Sonny's 85th

This weekend we traveled to Jerad's hometown to celebrate his dear grandpa's 85th birthday.

Jerad's mom, Terri, had been planning this get-together for weeks.  She has a gift for hosting.  So you can always expect to be well-fed, well-served, and always made to feel at home.  Family from all over came.  I'm not even sure how many people crammed in Grandpa Sonny's little house, but it was busting at the seams.  Thankfully the weather was nice, so most of us sat outside and watched the kids play in the baby pools. (Yes, Terri even thought of that) Honestly, Grandpa Sonny is the reason we all still get together.  He is the glue of the family.  And its always a great time when we do get together, so I'm thankful to him for that.  And look forward to many more birthdays of his.

 Here are a few snapshots of the weekend to serve as memories in the future.

This picture has so many meanings.  He loves to sit on his porch in this chair watching people drive by and to be warmed up by the sun.  He actually received a new chair for his birthday because he wore out the previous one.  We have many pictures and memories from this porch.
Secondly, Autum is watching him hug the gorilla that infamously lives in his fireplace.  He teases all the great grandkids by telling them he has a gorilla that lives inside his fireplace.  So after all this teasing, he purchased a stuffed gorilla to go along with the joke.  So one of the kids finally got enough nerve to look in the fireplace for the gorilla that was said to have lived there...and there he was!  He was Autum's pretend "baby" that day. 
Autum was practicing he new-found 'kissing' skills on everyone!
The kids spent the morning going up and down the front porch stairs waiting for the rest of the family to arrive. 

This picture cracks me up for some reason!

Playing at Mimi Terri and Papa David's house!

Picking flowers....naughty, naughty...

Ice Cream Sundaes on a hot day.

These 3 figured out there was ice cream around and didn't leave the picnic table!

Still waiting...just in case there were seconds!
Happy Birthday Sonny!  We LOVE you!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Nutrition..Part III

I wanted to wrap up my series of nutrition posts about how I am attempting to address many of Blake's health issues through healing his gut.  You can read this post, this post, and this one to get caught up. 
Just wanted to share these pictures from the 3 weeks we were at Blake's orphanage. I am having fun looking back through them and seeing how far he has come in the past 6 months!

The final two things I want to discuss probably aren't quite as romantic as clearing up eczema, but are still important.  Plus, these are probably two of the biggest complaints I hear from other mom's about their children.  And I firmly believe they are directly related.

Sleep.  And poop.
I still get this ornery look several times a day.  Followed by him sticking his tongue out and spitting at me!

Yes, I told you.  Not fun.

I'll talk sleeping first.  This issue was one that has plagued us for the past 6 months, and I won't say we are in the clear yet, but we are at least sleeping through the night for the most part, now.  Many of Blake's sleep issues were related to anxiety, being in a different place, fear, over-stimulation before bedtime, gas, teeth, new noises, a screaming, crazy little sister in the same room.  But I also firmly believe a lot of his restlessness at night was related to not feeling well.  He would often wake himself up rolling around and around in his crib.  Throwing his head back and forth.  As he has gotten adjusted to life here he seems to be relaxing more, partly to beginning to trust us, and partly because his body can relax at night too.  His digestive system isn't leaving him bloated with undigested food sitting in his gut, fermenting while his brain attempts to send signals to the rest of his body to rest.  His cortisol levels aren't spiking at night either, due to his stress levels diminishing, and due to his body being able to catch up post-healing.  So he is getting quality sleep, as well as quantity. 

Still one of my favorite's of he and his daddy the first week we were there!
Besides having a very strict bedtime routine, which is helpful for all 3 of our kids, we also provide Blake with supplements that will help him enter a deeper stage of sleep.  At night we typically supplement his applesauce with melatonin, vitamin c ascorbates powder, calcium, magnesium and zinc, as well as flax oil to help his body absorb the other vitamins better.  Other steps we try to take are not having him eat much within two hours of his bedtime.  For one, he does not chew his food well, so we often find food pocketed in his cheeks hours after he's eaten.  So we don't want him to choke, but also because his body doesn't breakdown the large chunks of food as easily.  The more he chews his food, the more stomach acid is produced.  The less he chews, the less the food gets broken down because of the lesser amount of stomach acid.  This leads to more food sitting in his tummy undigested...yuck!  We try not to do any sugar after the afternoon snack either.  We want the insulin levels to stay down as his brain tells his body to prepare for rest.  Another thing we tend to do is take baths at night before bed.  I always put a few drops of lavendar essential oil in with the bath water to help with the winding down.  Kids with sensory issues, which includes most with special needs, tend to be calmed by baths and water. 

We realized how much he loved knocking over blocks!
Now onto his pooping.  Constipation is a HUGE issue with many kids I know.  I hear many a mom complaining about her child not having a BM in the past few days.  I was already aware that children with Down Syndrome usually having chronic issues with constipation, so I did a lot of research on this issue as well.  I believe a lot of the issue is related to low muscle tone, therefore peristalsis is not as strong and effective at pushing bile on through the digestive tract.  Again, it sits undigested and ferments or it escapes through the intestinal walls into the bloodstream.  Either way, little is being passed out of the body.  So keeping Blake hydrated is really important.  But I think the key factor with his ability to have 1-2 BM's a day is reducing the inflammation in his body by removing gluten/wheat products and dairy products.  As soon as we removed these products from his body, within 2 weeks his body was cleansing itself as normal.  I also think the flax oil is helpful in keeping his system lubricated.  I know colostrum is known for its healthy effects on one's digestive system too. 
And this is where he is now.  Safe with us.  Learning to box! :)

Anyway, these are the final 2 pieces of the puzzle that I feel we have put together in helping Blake heal through nutrition therapy and experimentation.  I am sure we'll continually be adjusting as we go, but for now we are seeing HUGE leaps and bounds in his progress as a result of the steps we are taking.  I'll keep you posted as we go...

Friday, June 1, 2012

Q&A, Recommendations

After beginning my mini-series about addressing Blake's health through nutrition and supplementation, I have had an influx of questions.  So I want to address a few of the ones I think I can help with.

1. Books to recommend?  Ummm, I don't read a whole lot of books these days, but I love to do research online when I can. So my go-to sources are: and Robb Wolff's book The Paleo Solution, I hear, is great.  I know a lot of adoptive mom's follow:
The Paleo Mom is another go-to blog I enjoy.  She is a mom with a Ph.D. who provides the science behind this way of eating in real-person terms.  Plus she draws some great stick-figure pics to explain what she's saying.  There are also some great recipes there:  The granola bars under the Kids recipe tab are AMAZING!  The french toast is a hit in our house as well. is a great source for recipes.  So is  is another great resource.

2. If you have the time to listen to this, give it a glance.  Great documentary.

3. I had lots of questions about Tei Fu Oil.  Haha! Makes me laugh.  It is an essential oil that I use a lot.  I use it on sore muscles.  I rub 1-2 drops under the kids ears if they begin to show symptoms of an ear infection, sinus infection, or excess drainage.  This stuff helps improve circulation, thus helps the 'gunk' drain from the ears without causing the build-up and infection.  I literally will find stuff running out of the kids ears the next morning after rubbing a few drops on the night before.  This stuff works!

4. This leads to my next question. Where do I buy my supplements?  I usually purchase them online from:  We live in a rural area so 'health' food stores are not exactly on every street corner.  I buy my Tei Fu Oil from there as well.  It lasts forever.  This is also where I purchase my colostrum, which I had several questions about. I just use the capsule form, rather than the farm-fresh, milky form.  This is a lot cleaner, lasts longer, and the kids will actually consume in applesauce.

5. Probiotics in yogurt.  After recently attending a conference on Nutrition and its Effect on the Brain, my tone has changed a bit about the benefits of probiotics in yogurt.  According to this speaker, most people don't digest food very well anyway, so the minimal amount found in yogurt is not nearly enough to help change the bacteria balance in the stomach, let alone what you actually get after digestion occurs.  She recommended a refrigerated blend of probiotics in capsule form, as much as 100-200 billion a day!  That's a lot.  I'm still experimenting with how much is enough for me.  But, yogurt is still good.  Because we are dairy-free, we use almond and coconut yogurts that I purchase in Wichita at Natural Grocers, Green Acres, or Whole Foods.  Yummy and expensive, so we consider it a treat when we get it!

6. What type of Anti-Fungal am I using?  Well for the kids, I use a brand we purchase from our chiropractor, called System Formulas.  It's called CX4, FungDX.  I started out adding 7-8 drops a day, then backed down to 4 a day, now I'm doing 4 every other day.  It definitely 'cleans a person out', so beware.

7.  I also used lavender oils in the bathtub at night.  I use this for allergy purposes, because lavender is known to help relieve allergy symptoms.  This is also to help Blake calm down for nighttime.  This is when his anxiety rears its ugly head.  I also apply a topical adrenal cream, called AdrenaCalm (K-16), several times a day to help his already stressed out body, nourish his adrenals.  I often rub a little on myself as well, depending on the day! 

8.  Finally, I also use an aloe vera cream on his face to help with the tissue damage from his reaction to American food, our dry air, and the change in environment.  I try to use as natural of skin products as I can.  One, because of all the toxins in most smell-good body creams (aahhhem, Bath&Body Works).  Two, because my kids are super-sensitive to skin creams for some reason.  So we just play it safe.  I recommend Arbonne.  Also Aveeno.  We use just plain 'ol coconut oil or olive oil in the winter.