Saturday, February 25, 2012

From the mouths of babes...

I just realized I haven't posted in over a week...where does the time go?  I'll tell you, though, it goes VERY slowly at night while trying to convince one baby or the other that it is NOT time to be awake...meanwhile the clock goes

Because the kids have had so much to say lately, I'll let them speak for themselves.

They love to share their blankies and take naps together...

Share their snacks...if only you could hear the noise these two can make together...along with the mess!

Share mommy's lap.  (I love how Leah just keeps on singing amidst the go girl!)

He's been home 3 months now and already knows how to use one of these...hmmmm. :)
 And he's learning how to take care of his baby glow worm...

And everyone loves spaghetti night!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Not Home

I have been changed.

Changed in so many ways.

Ways that I find freeing.  Ways that I find frustrating.  Ways that I still am not sure what to do with.  Ways that don't make sense to this world.  Ways that require me to surrender my thoughts.  Ways that leave me fearful and feeling inadequate.  Ways that leave me feeling overwhelmed.  Ways that lead me to joy and peace.  Ways of understanding.

So many ways, I say.

Let me explain.

Changed in ways that I find freeing: Faith CAN move mountains! (Matthew 18:20-21)
...I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, "Move from here to there" and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.

Blake Andrew is a constant reminder to me of God's goodness, blessings, and greater plan for us...if only we will take that first step of faith...what joy and abundance is in store!?

Changed in ways I find frustrating: That I have lived so selfishly up until now, following the American dream--more money, more things, more, more, more.....concerned with things of little importance.  I chose not to see the bigger picture.  I chose to live in ignorance.  And now I CAN'T STAND to hear of people chatting about wanting more, more, more, needing more, more, more, thinking they'll be happy with more, more, more.

My heart is broken, there are tears on my keyboard, streaming down my face as I write this.  What are we doing, people??

Changed in ways I am not sure what to do with: I now know this is not my home, I have sung the words to those songs that describe feeling like an alien here on this earth, and not really understanding.  NOW. I. DO.  I am not here to live for me.  I am not here to live it up.  I am not here to live comfortably.  No.  I am here to love others as God loves me.  That is ALL!  I am living too comfortably.  What will I do about that?

Changed in ways that don't make sense to this world: I don't need a smart phone.  I do not want a new car.  I do not want to make more money.  I am not in need of ANYTHING.  I want to become less.  

Changed in ways that require me to surrender my thoughts: Not ready to go there yet.

Changed in ways that make me feel fearful and inadequate: I am unsettled.  I feel burdened and broken for a reason.  I am only 1 person.  There is so much to be done.

Changed in ways that make me feel overwhelmed:  Like what to do about all of these are SO many.  Here and there.

Changed in ways that make me feel peace and joy: There are people going.  There are people who are acting on the change they have experienced.  God is alive and well.  His Spirit is moving.

Changed in ways of understanding: God doesn't call us to things that are easy.  There are sacrifices to be made.  Sleepless nights.  Inconsolable crying/screaming.  Inability to communicate.  Unanswered questions.  Years of orphanage damage to a child's trust and innocence.  Lots of undoing.  Lots of staying home.  
We learn to pray unceasingly.  Rest in peace that passes all understanding.  Feel God's living breath over us.  Hear His still small voice in nights of desperation.  See small progressions being made in answer to endless prayers.  Feel the prayers of the saints.  

That is where we desire to be.  There is no place like it.
I now understand this.

I will not lie.  I am dealing with a lot of internal bitterness and frustration.  But I don't feel it is all bad.  Because it makes me ask the tough questions.

Why don't people understand what I'm saying?  What I've seen?  What needs to be done?  What are we living for? How can we not feel the cries of these children?  What don't more people adopt? How can we not be burdened? Where is our compassion?  Where are our hearts?  What are our priorities? 

I just. don't. get. it.  When did this world get so turned around?

Ohhhh, it saddens my soul.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Adoption and the Gut

Sorry this blog isn't going to be entertaining or as inspirational as others, I guess you could say it's more informative.  I am a HUGE nutrition junkie.  I love learning about how nutrition affects our bodies and our overall health.  So naturally, bringing a child into our home adopted from another country with a different diet (to say the least, as far as orphanage food goes), with different parasites, viruses, mites, and infections would lead me into research mode.  I have been reading, researching, exploring, asking questions, seeking wisdom from those wiser than I.  M.D.'s, Naturopaths, Chiropractors, Nutritionists, More Experienced Adoptive Mommies, Nutrition Blogs...etc.

There are so many things that effect our health that begin with an unhealthy gut.  In my opinion.  Here is what I have learned so far...
Blake has a bad gut.  
His bad gut is due to: Parasites. (Giardia)  Bacteria. (H. Pylori)  Infection.  Highly processed food.  Too much sugar in his diet.  Bad absorption.  Low stomach acid.  Inability to chew his food properly.  Low Omega-3, Omega-6 fat intake.  Low vitamins and minerals in his diet.

His bad gut is leading to: Red, dry cheeks.  Low protein levels.  Low functioning thyroid.  Acid reflux.  Candida.  Congestion.  Chronic cough.  Allergies.  Eczema symptoms.  SMELLY poop.  Brittle nails.  Sugar cravings.  High cortisol levels.  Waking at night.  Irritability.  Gas.  Burping. Hyperactivity.  Lack of focus.  Low immune system.  High stress.  Behavioral issues.

These are all issues commonly treated with medications to hide the symptoms.  Not treat the root cause-->The bad gut.

I can completely understand how the poor boy has a bad gut and how it relates to these symptoms.  He went from eating mush, with no nutrient value on a daily basis to what we call American food...aka HIGHLY PROCESSED.  And I would like to think we do a pretty good job at feeding our kids lots of fruits and vegetables and lean protein or at least I make a conscious effort to eliminate most processed foods. Anyway, he has been contributing to his bad gut for 2 year's living in the we have some work to do to reverse this issue and make his gut healthy again now that he lives with us.  But part of this healing involves dealing with some pretty nasty cleansing effects.  He is detoxing you could say, as we work to eliminate foods that trigger to his bad gut.  Foods like:  sugar, corn syrup, cow's milk, wheat/gluten, juices, foods with soy products in them.  We are supplementing his system with Flaxseed oil, Vitamin C, anti-fungal drops and anti-fungal cream for his red cheeks, Adrenal-cream, Vitamin D3, and Liquid Calcium, Chamomile supplement, Lavender oils for bath time, Apple Cider Vinegar and honey...I using all of these in steps, obviously.  All for different reasons.  Right now we are focusing on healing his gut, that is of most importance.  We want his gut healed so his body can focus on healing other areas of his body that it can't address right now because of all the energy going into maintaining his digestive system and nervous system. If that makes sense...Our bodies will pick the most important system to throw all of its energy into healing and maintaining, if that comes at the expense of shutting down other important systems.  This is how you get behavioral issues related to food allergies...the body is focused on eliminating these foods it sees as toxins (milk, wheat in our case) that it leaves little attention for the brain and nervous system...they get neglected and therefore acting out, having anxiety, inability to focus, etc. are the result.  Still with me?

What most people don't realize though, is that these parasites, viruses, mites, and infections are highly contagious.  So we are treating the girls for the same issues that are starting to arise in their systems, since Blake has been in our home.  Saliva is a common sharing ground for passing these issues back and forth. So far I haven't noticed any symptoms myself, that could be related to these issues, but I am on alert.  As I get worn down with endless doctor's appointments, sleepless nights in the babies' room, long days of running and chasing after kids and their messes, my immune system can begin to fail.

This can be an issue with any child,  not just one adopted from Ukraine.  So like I said, pay attention to your child's issues and begin with looking at his gut and how all of these symptoms are most likely related.  Nutrition plays more of a factor in our health than any MD knows or cares to look at, so be your own advocate and make your child's nutrition of importance in treating and healing his/her body.  It is the silent culprit of many issues that are diagnosed as: ADHD, asthma, seasonal allergies, IBS, chronic acid reflux, high stress, anxiety, diarrhea/constipation...

I will keep you filled in on Blake's progress in this regard as we heal his gut over the next few months.  I am excited to get him healed up and healthy and for the results to prove themselves!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Night Visitor

Well, yesterday morning turned into quite an adventure when my over-achiever 5-year old was determined to loose a tooth...just like 'everyone else in her class.'  I guess the student gets his/her picture taken and placed on the board and gets special treatment for the day....well, that was motivation enough for Leah to begin yanking on her bottom teeth...every chance I wasn't looking.  This has been going on for weeks.  Well yesterday, she came running out of the bathroom shrieking in excitement because SHE LOST HER TOOTH!

So she thought...

I had to inform her she only lost 1/2 of her tooth.  She broke it off at the root and it was bleeding and bleeding.  Now keep in mind I was hurriedly getting both babies fed, and loaded up in the van, with everything but our kitchen sink, for a morning of doctor's appointments, an hour away from our house.  I had already made arrangements for Leah to be at daycare that morning, so I thought I was doing good, we were running on time, so far so good.

Well, not sure what to do. I went ahead and dropped her off at daycare and called my husband to see whether he thought we should be worried about this or not.  Quite honestly I was more concerned that she was going to proceed to yank out her other tooth that day and make it 2 for 2.  So he called the dentist who said to bring her over to make sure no other damage was done and to take X-rays to make sure another tooth was growing in below.  So I went on to Blake's appointments and called my husband between, he was on his way to take Leah to a dentist office in another town because our dentist office branch is closed on Friday's...of course

Well, long story short.  She didn't break off her tooth, she just has VERY tiny teeth.  And she actually has another tooth loose and very close to coming out as well.  But, the dentist made sure to inform her that yanking and jerking on her teeth before they were ready to fall out, is not a good idea.  So, I'm hoping lesson learned.

She was bouncing all around the house, with a huge toothless grin on her face.  On. Cloud. Nine!  She placed her prized tooth in a baggie and left it on the kitchen counter...first mistake.  I threw it away once and had to dig it out of the trash.  Then Jerad proceeded to dispose of it himself and had to dig it out of the garbage.  This tooth had already been on an adventure that day.  Well, after answering 900 questions about the tooth fairy, we proceeded to tuck it under her pillow for the night.  I was uncertain if she would go to sleep, her excitement was the equivalent of that on a Christmas Eve night.  So about 10:30 pm, the half-asleep Tooth Fairy lying next to me made his way into her room to confiscate the tooth and replace it with $1.  I sort of dozed off and remembered thinking a while later that he had been gone a while.  But I was in La-La Land myself and dismissed the thought quickly.  Not long after I heard the not-so dainty Tooth Fairy plodding back into our bedroom, breathing hard.  I asked what took him so long.  And this is what unfolded according to him...

He slipped his hand under her pillow to retrieve the prized tooth and as he was shoving the $1 bill under his pillow she quickly turned over and looked at him.  He hit the floor and laid there under the edge of her comforter, trying not to breathe too loudly.  He thought she was still asleep until he heard this..."Tooth Fairy? Tooth Fairy?  Are you there?  Where are you, Tooth Fairy? Hellooo...?"  He still had the $1 in his hand, so he waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Just to make sure she was good and asleep. 
Then as fast as he could, he slipped the dollar under her pillow and flew out of there.  Literally.

As I was listening to him relay this story to me in my half-asleep state, I began to giggle.  Then laugh.  And laugh.  Ohhh, I needed this laugh after such a stressful day.  Sorry it was at his expense, and at the expense of the Tooth Fairy's identity being revealed...but it was the best medicine for me on a day when I was near tears all day long.

I would LOVE to hear of any other Tooth Fairy fiasco's...

Monday, February 6, 2012

Infertility as a Means to an End

My daughter Autum Grace, is a constant reminder of God's goodness and grace to us, through our battle with infertility.  Her arrival in the fall of 2010 was a celebration of more than just a child being brought into the world. Her presence made all of the frustration, sadness, unanswered questions, endless tests, fears, anxiety, sorrow, feelings of being alone, bouts with depression, hormone treatments, weight gain, doctor's appointments, health concerns, sleepless nights, and so much more, worth it. 

To catch you up a bit, we had our 5 year old daughter very early in our marriage, easy, pretty much without trying, actually.  So we waited a few year's before we began trying for our 2nd child.  We wanted our kids to be 2 1/2 -3 year's apart, so we thought.  About 6 months into our trying, I sought some medical advice for health issues I was dealing with personally, that I thought could be effecting our chances of conceiving. I was immediately referred to a slue of specialists. We met with reproductive specialists, endocrinologists, naturopaths, O.B's...but no one had an answer.  Especially since we had our first daughter so easily...We tried many different paths of assistance, but stopped short if in vitro.  I kept feeling like God was telling us to just wait, just wait.  I took that as a possibility to look into adoption...we began to make some contacts, searched out online resources for adoption, and prayed about the idea.  But again...I felt God telling us to just wait.  Ugh.  By then, though, we were tired of waiting.  It was getting close to 2 year's of trying with no success, by this point.

Almost one month to the date we were told that I would not be able to carry a child on my own, after a final round of tests, we found out we were expecting!  Talk about a take your breath away, praise God moment.  And I thought at that point God had answered our prayers, we were through.

What I have only recently begun to mull over is how much I was changed through that time.  I was made weak.  I was faced with the sin of my pride.  I was stripped of control.  I was forced to rely fully on God's timing, goodness, grace, and mercy.  I was made to realize how much I doubted God's sovereignty and power.  I was made aware of His perfect love for me, through His perfect timing.  Yet, what has come out of that experience has changed my life forever.  And only God could do that.   

You see:
I was brought to my knees in this experience, to take the focus off of myself and be broken for the orphans of the world.

I was made aware of God's mighty power, and the power I have through His Holy Spirit, to move mountains.  Mountains like convincing your husband you want to adopt a child with special needs halfway across the world, raising $25,000, being away from your kids for 6-7 weeks, being able to provide for 3 kids...

I was made aware of the importance of community and that relying on others to help you out is okay and actually God's plan for us.  Being there emotionally, physically, spiritually.

I was forced to pray unceasingly.  And recognize the power behind that act.  Especially when adopting from Ukraine, you have no idea what curveball you will be thrown next, and all you can do is pray. pray. pray.

My 2nd child was being born in Ukraine, during the time I was 'waiting' impatiently to get pregnant.

I had to wait 2 1/2 year's to have Autum, because she was meant to be the baby.  My 2nd child was born exactly when we were hoping to have him/her.  I just didn't know it yet.

God knew that Blake would need a bossy little sister to help him out and be his best friend in life. 

I saw infertility as an unfair thing that happened to me, while I was in it, with no answers.  But now I see it as God's orchestrated, perfect plan for us.  So if you are in the valley right now, not seeing any hope, specifically with infertility, realize and know there is a reason, a perfect reason.

My reason is a cuddly, little, blonde-headed, boy. 

If you have never considered adoption as a possible reason for your infertility, please contact me.  I would be glad to pray and fast with you about discernment and wisdom in this matter.  

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Blake says..

Well, it's been a while since Mommy let me share.

So here's what has been going on lately around here:

I am getting really close to being able to keep up with that crazy-haired little chubby girl.  Who is slimming down, by the way, with all of this walking and chasing we have been doing together.  I get a crawling start at it, then I inchworm my legs in toward my hands and stand up, throw my hands up in the air, open my mouth really wide, stick my tongue out, and start stepping.  I can usually get 4-5 steps in before I bite the dust, or lunge into mommy or daddy's arms, or smack the coffee table with my chin (which I prefer not to do).  I sit down, clap my hands in pride, make sure that someone saw me take my steps, then get up and try again.  That is, until some parcel of food on the floor, left over from the meal before catches my eye, and it's all over after that.  That food cannot go uneaten in this house.  I tend to eat most things off of the floor, except for dried up, crunchy green beans...those just tend to lose their flavor after a few hours.  I leave those for chubby girl to eat, although she doesn't seem to like them either.  She just wipes them off of her tongue while I prefer to spit them out. 

I have also made some amazing discoveries.  I. HAVE. A. BELLY. BUTTON!  Can you believe that?  Little chubby girl is always walking around with her finger in her bellybutton and her shirt in her mouth.  I just thought it was a freaky girl-thing that she does, along with other activities I've yet to understand.  But when we were in the store the other day, that little gal lifted up mommy's shirt while she was talking to someone and stuck her finger in mommy's belly button!  At that point, it hit me.  If mommy has one of those, then maybe I do.  I began to research this topic.  That night while daddy was lying on the floor watching TV, I crawled over, lifted his shirt up, and what do you know....HE HAS A BELLY BUTTON TOO!  I stuck my finger in it just to be sure...for some reason, daddy just about jumped off the floor.  So if mommy, daddy, and chubby girl all have belly buttons, maybe I do too.  I started lifting up my shirt, looking for evidence of such a thing...on days when I don't eat too much, I can usually find it.  It is really kind of fun to stick your finger in there, although my belly button kind of sticks out so it isn't as lending to poking with a finger.  I prefer to lift up mommy and daddy's shirts and poke their's instead, it always leads to a shriek and jump effect.  Well, one day when I was lifting my shirt up to search for that devious little belly button, I realized my shirt will come all the way up and over my head!  If you pull one arm hard enough, you can even free up an arm and get the whole shirt off.  It is the most freeing experience.  Plus it doesn't get in the way of belly button searching.  I decided to practice this new talent in a recent wagon ride to take the big red-headed girl to school.  I quickly slipped off both socks and discarded one at the end of the driveway, the other a block away, then I began to work on my shirt...I got it up on my head and one arm out before mommy turned around and saw me...which was probably a good thing, I'm pretty sure it was stuck.  Then she raised her hands up and asked me where my socks were...heck if I know...I got rid of them.  They were just in the way.  Well, she went back to the front of the wagon and kept on pulling us along.  I figured if I couldn't take my clothes off, I could strip down the chubby girl.  She always seems hot and fussy.  I grabbed her foot to remove her shoe, I gave it a good tug, but nothing happened.  I tried again, and got it free...just as I was letting it set-sail behind me, mommy turned around and caught me in the act.  Darn!  Plus, little chubby girl began to squall about her shoe being gone forever...ohhhh, boo hoo hoo. 

Other than that, I still get really nervous when we don't follow our typical nightly routine.  If someone comes over close to bedtime, or we go somewhere, or do something different then I get really nervous and anxious.  I will cry and cry when it is time to go to sleep.  Mommy always wraps me up really tightly in a blanket and rocks me and sings to me until my breathing slows and my tears disappear.  I keep my eyes open as long as I can to make sure she is still there.  I usually sleep good at first and then about 2 am, I roll over and realize I'm not in her arms anymore...'OH NO!'  Did she leave me?  Is someone else coming to get me?  Will I have to go back to my old house?  Where did she go?  Where am I?  Then I let out a wail in panic, a screaming, cry.  Please someone.  Mommy!  Daddy!  Hello?  I'm scared.  I'm scared.  Then my heart begins to beat faster and faster, my breaths become shallow and quick, I cry louder between breaths.  The tears spill down my face.  And just when I can't take anymore, mommy swoops in and picks me up and talks to me in her soothing voice.  She rocks me and rubs my back with her hands...she always has her eyes closed which makes me think she is sleepy, but I don't care, I need her here.  I need her to reassure me that I will always be she and daddy's.  That she will never make me go back to my old house.  That she will never quit loving me.  I need her to squeeze me and hold me.  I begin to relax and breathe easier.  I can't control my whimpers that come out between breaths.  But I know that I will be okay now.  She just better not put me back in that crib...if my head hits that mattress, I WILL scream!  I think she realizes that now.  We sit in her room at the end of her bed and rock... and rock... all night long. I don't know if this feeling of anxiety and panic will ever go this just a lingering side-effect I will have to deal with as a result of being an orphan?  Or is this just part of my transition into my new life?  Only time will tell.  All I know is this is where I want to be...forever.