Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Some Thoughts....

I won't be able to sleep without at least typing all this, even if I decide not to post it just yet, so here goes...

I'm not looking to start an argument, or even a discussion. So if you still disagree when you get to the end, that's fine.  But please don't make nasty comments or try to change my mind, because you won't.  Just like I am well aware that this blog won't likely change yours.  That's the job of the Holy Spirit. 

Lately there's been a lot of comments and statuses and blogs written about the big H word.  Should Christians participate or not?  Is it really a big deal?  And everyone seems to have an opinion.  I am no different.  I just happen to come down on the opposite side of most of my friends, family, and the general population.  And I'm ok with that.  In fact, I'm rather used to it.  But I have some thoughts I'd like to share anyway, beyond the standard arguments against Halloween (most of which I agree with, by the way) that are new thoughts for me in my discussions and ponderings recently.  I'd like to think these thoughts come from the Lord, but maybe they're not.   Anyway, I will try and keep my passionate rantings to a minimum here! 

1.  If you want some good Biblical support for not participating in HW (I don't feel like typing Halloween a hundred times!), you can read this article: http://www.prophezine.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=676%3A10-reasons-i-kissed-halloween-goodbye&catid=41%3Atop-headlines  She's already written a very well thought-out and researched article, so I don't feel the need to repeat or rewrite any of it. 

2.  http://troublefacemom.com/2012/10/31/on-halloween/    This blog has been popping up on my newsfeed this week.  I don't entirely agree, but I don't entirely disagree.  I don't agree that we can say "I know HW is evil and bad and yucky, but we just don't participate in those parts."  Folks, that argument screams hypocrisy!!  Maybe not in the way most people like to pin that word on Christians, but by definition, it's hypocritical to say you don't believe in or agree with something but you're going to do it anyway!!  Which is exactly what this writer says.  Let me put it to you this way.  If someone baked a big tray of your favorite brownies  (cupcakes, pie, cheesecake, or whatever dessert strikes your fancy) but they put a big layer of poop on the bottom of the pan, would you eat the brownies???  Would you say, "Well, I know the bottom is nasty, but I'll just eat the top and everything will be fine."???  Don't you think that saying HW is evil, but you're only in it for the candy is pretty much the same thing?  In the Old Testament are numerous laws about what makes things clean or unclean.  It's quite clear that if something defiled touches something clean, the clean thing becomes defiled.  But it doesn't seem to work the other way around.  So how can one say that participating in something not honoring to God won't in some way defile them?  Probably the same way you would say you could eat just the top of the poopy brownies and not eat any poop.

Now, I do agree with this writer in the sense that we should be showing the love of Christ to our neighbors.  However, I don't think that means we need to celebrate HW in order to do so.  If we are out in our neighborhoods, being kind, helping those in need, and getting to know people all year long, then our love for them and for the Lord should be evident already.  And if that's the case, chances are pretty good that they will actually respect us for not sending our kids trick-or-treating or passing out candy to kids that do.  If we live out our faith the other 364 days of the year, people will be hard-pressed to judge us for taking a stand against something we've already established does nothing to honor the God we say we serve.  And for the record, Jesus did not have to join in any sinful activity in order to reach sinners.  And He doesn't tell us to either.

3.  In continuing the previous line of thought, if we are truly living out our faith, in true holiness and reverence for God, people should not expect us to celebrate HW.  By that I mean, they should expect us not to.  After all, no one expects Muslims, Hindus, or Jewish people to celebrate Christmas or Easter.  Why not?  Because the foundation of those holidays have nothing to do with those faiths.  Halloween has nothing to do with faith in Christ.  Nothing.  It has everything to do with Christ's enemy.  So by celebrating it, in whatever "harmless" form people may choose, isn't that sending a message that is at best confusing, and at worst hypocritical??  Confusing because it's saying, again, "We know it's really about evil, death, and the devil, but it's ok because we don't believe in that stuff."  So does that mean that people can love and serve the Lord but participate in all other manner of sinful things, but it's ok as long as you don't really believe in it??  How is anyone supposed to know what's right and wrong when we are sending such mixed message?  And we've already covered the hypocritical aspect.  It seems to me that celebrating HW is actually more hypocritical then, than having a conviction that something is wrong and refusing to participate even when everyone else is.  If a Muslim, a devout one who truly tries to follow their faith, put up a Christmas tree and handed out gifts (because there's nothing wrong with giving gifts), would you respect their faith as genuine?  Not likely.  If a Hindu person gave their kids Easter baskets (because it's just candy!), would you think they were really devoted to their gods?  I doubt it.  And yet, many genuinely-loving-the-Lord Christians are going to dress up their kiddos and take them out to participate in a completely worldly event that at its core is ugly and wicked.  Sorry, but I just can't make that work in my brain or in my heart. 

4.  The fact that it's such a hot-button topic ought to make us think there's more involved here than just costumes and candy.  I mean, isn't one of the devil's goals to divide believers?  If we are divided against each other, then we aren't united against him.  That makes us weak and ineffective.  And the very fact that people who choose to participate get so defensive about their choice makes me think that deep down, they know they really shouldn't be doing it but don't want to admit it.  I know I get that way when I know I'm wrong!  To be quite honest, I don't feel I need to defend my choice not to participate.  I hope that's not how any of this has sounded.  Like I said, these are my thoughts on the matter.  And if you still disagree, it's ok; we can still be friends. :)  But I hope you will at least consider it, and pray about it.  Thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

In Silence No More

I know I will have to explain all of this at least 100 more times, but for those of you who read this blog, here it is:
Yes, James can now hear!!!!  And yes, he hears pretty much everything you and I hear, just not as loud.  The volume is set very low in order to give him time to adjust.  No, he has no idea what any of it means yet, nor does he really seem to care or notice that he hears.  This is normal and it will take a few weeks for his brain to begin to recognize and respond to the sounds.  The good news is that he doesn't seem bothered by sound.  Imagine going from absolute silence (which you and I can never truly experience!) to a noisy world full of voices, dogs, phones, music, sneezing, running water, rain, crinkling paper, clomping feet, car horns, etc.  It's a very overwhelming thought, and some kids can get quickly overstimulated and stressed out.  James is so easy-going, though.  The only thing that shows us he's noticing something different is that he has been having a hard time sleeping the last few nights.  Otherwise he is his usual happy self, just with some added headgear.  :)

On Wednesday we went to the audiologist, our dear Dr. Emily.  First she put the processor on James's head and hooked it up to her computer.  She played a whole bunch of beeps and different tones that went directly into the processor through the cable.  When he heard a sound he was supposed to put a ring on a peg, or flip a disc into a dog (these are the same kinds of games she played with him during his previous hearing tests).  He did both of those things at all the right times, all pretty much without any expression whatsoever.  After that she turned on the microphones so that we could talk to him and he could hear us.  I had tried to not have any expectations, as every kid reacts differently, but he is so animated all the time, I really thought he would have a bigger response.  He did a lot of nodding, like he usually does, and at one point he did cry.  He sat stiffly on my lap for a bit too, but it didn't take him long to go back to his normal self.
I have been gradually increasing the volume, and he only asks to have it taken off occasionally.  He's not a big fan of the headband I had to concoct in order to keep it on his little head though!  All in all I think he's doing extremely well, and I hope that somewhere in his brain are the memories of the sound he used to hear as an infant.  Whether or not this will make a difference in how quickly he learns to process sound, we don't yet know.  But in my unprofessional opinion, it has to count for something!!

I'd really like to show you the video of the big moment, but neither blogger nor youtube wants to load it!  So sorry!!!!!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Return to Me and Fall Fun

"God is the One who makes promises to His children and keeps them.  He keeps His promises even when His children sin and are unfaithful to Him."  Every chapter in my kids' Bible curriculum has one of these "God is..." statements.  (As a side note, we memorize these statements, along with a Bible verse, every week.)  My most recent free-for-review read from Bethany Publishers beautifully illustrates this truth.  Return to Me, by Lynn Austin, is the story of the Israelites who were permitted to return to Jerusalem from their exile in Babylon in order to rebuild the temple.  (You can read the actual story in Ezra, Haggai, and Zechariah.)  Austin brings to life several main characters and their struggles with faith, or a lack thereof; the difficulties faced in Babylon as well as those experienced back at home in Jerusalem; and the faithfulness of God to His people, unfaithful and uncommitted as they were.  While this was not the most exciting book I've ever read, with its jumping back and forth between multiple main characters it seemed to drag at times, it certainly brought a lesser-known Old Testament story to life, along with the prophet Zechariah.  And although I would never want the responsibility or pressure of having to speak for the Lord, reading this book did make me desire a closer relationship with the Lord, where He speaks to me personally and clearly.  In my opinion, that's a successful and satisfying read!

Now, for the update of our fall thus far...  Homeschooling is going very well.  Both kids are getting all A's.  Or at least they would be, if I was keeping a grade book!  As I mentioned above, our Bible curriculum, God's Great Covenant, has a "God is" statement for each lesson, which we memorize.  So far we have learned 5 of these truths, along with a corresponding Bible verse.  We alternate that with the Bible Writer, which gives a verse about God for each letter of the alphabet.  God is awesome, blessing, Creator, etc.  We are up to the letter F in that one.  They have to write the verse on Friday as part of their spelling test, although I don't count the spelling yet.
We have studied the 5 senses, the water cycle and thunderstorms, the seven continents and four oceans, and fire safety; we've written a psalm, a poem about pumpkins, and assorted other things.  Both kids wrote photo essays; they even took their own pictures!  We've read dozens of books and learned about nouns - common, proper, and pronouns.  We will be starting a unit on verbs this week.  Thrilling, I know!  Liana just finished a Magic Treehouse book about gorillas and will be making a poster about them this week.  Aedan has a sudden interest in the Vikings (the real ones, not the football team!), so he will be doing a report on them.
During our school time James has his own "work" to do.  He works on sorting, matching, and naming colors, puzzles, stringing beads and lacing cards, and tracing patterns to help with his writing and drawing.  He has his own desk, notebook, and pencil box.  But he doesn't always cooperate, especially when I make him duplicate a pattern of colored blocks.  He's not very good at it, and he puts up quite a fuss!  He still has a hard time identifying colors consistently, and his therapists aren't too sure why.  We've talked about color blindness or deficiency as a possibility, but we've pretty much ruled that out.  One-to-one counting is still difficult too, and we've only just begun number recognition.
Overall he is doing really well, though!  We had our follow up with the cardiologist who specializes in heart rhythm.  Basically he had no answers for why James's heart stopped during surgery, but he wasn't overly concerned either.  He said all the doctors and anesthesiologists have been and will continue to discuss his case, which is reassuring.  He did make him wear a heart monitor for 24 hours, just to be sure.  We won't get those results for a week or two.
This week is a big week for James, too.  We go on Wednesday to get his processor, and he will hear for the first time in over 3 years!  He knows he's getting it, but he really has no clue what's about to happen when he does.  But I do, and I am SO excited.  I have no idea what his reaction will be, but as animated as he is, I think it will be big.  It might be negative at first, as it can be scary to suddenly hear noise you can't understand.  But everyone is very optimistic that he is going to do very well in the long run.

Here are some pictures of our trip to see the duck, and to the pumpkin patch!  I'll post a video of his reaction on Wednesday later this week!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A Rebellious Heart

It's book review time again!  I recently finished A Rebellious Heart by Jody Hedlund (received a free-for-review e-copy from Bethany Publishing), and it was possibly my favorite one from this author so far.  Jody Hedlund has a terrific skill for bringing characters to life and telling an exciting story, while at the same time addressing tough questions of morals and ethics.  A Rebellious Heart is set in the pre-Revolutionary War era, in New England.  In history class we all learn about the events that led up to our founding fathers' rebellion against the king of England, but this story brings to light some of the struggles the colonists faced because of the king's tyranny.  It also raises questions of conscience, such as "When is it ok to break the law?" and "Is doing the right thing in the face of danger worth the risk?"

In this story, people must go against everything they once believed in to help the cause of freedom, both  for individuals and for the nation.  They must stand dangerously against the government, their families, their friends to do what they believe is right.  For some there are physical consequences for what is perceived as treachery and breaking the law.
But what if they hadn't done so?  What if no one back in the 1700s decided that the laws were wrong, that the king had gone too far in his oppression, and that all life is valuable no matter the economic or social standing?  What if they hadn't been willing to risk everything in order to change the future of the nation? Perhaps others coming after them would have been willing.  Maybe the Revolution would have happened eventually.  But maybe the United States of America wouldn't exist as we know it.  Maybe we would just be another oppressed country, at the mercy of some tyrannical ruler who only values himself.
You're probably wondering where I'm going with all this.  Here it is.  Our country is in trouble.  Our freedoms are being threatened and even taken away.  Babies are being murdered.  Sin is rampant and in many ways, encouraged and glamorized.  And the church is largely silent.  We sit back and let these things happen, afraid of making waves or offending someone.  We consider our personal comforts of utmost importance and are unwilling to help those in need around us.  We accept sin in our entertainment, our culture, and even our personal lives.  I am my no means innocent in this.  But I think it's past time we started taking a stand, doing what we can to make a difference.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Well that was fun!

This was my first experience with a child having major surgery.  We arrived at the hospital at our scheduled time of 8:45 AM on Friday morning.  All the other times we've been in Same Day surgery we waited around for a quite awhile, but this time moved really quickly.  They came for us about 10:00, and by 10:10 I was in the waiting room.  Just after 2:00 the audiologist came in and told us that the implant passed all the tests with flying colors - all of the electrodes worked and his auditory nerve responded to the stimulation beautifully.  All excellent news.  A few minutes later Dr. Chi (ENT doc) came in to update us on the surgery part.  He told us that the surgery had gone well, and the implant was in nicely and James was doing well.  THEN he told us that sometime during the surgery, James's heart monitors showed a short "pause" in his heartbeat.  A 44 second pause, to be exact. (Although we wouldn't get that specific info until much later.)  It restarted all on its own, and stayed beating properly for the rest of the surgery.  We were told cardiology had been called and they would be down to see him.  Dr. Chi had no explanation for what had happened.  He said there is an extremely rare syndrome that links hearing loss to heartbeat, but it's so rare that hardly anyone knows about it.  That was about all he could say on the matter, and we just had to wait for cardiology.  Hello freak out.  It was probably close to 3:00 by the time they took us to him in recovery, and he was still pretty out of it.  The anesthesiologist came and re-explained what had happened, but he didn't seem overly concerned.  Still freaking out.  A nurse came and did an EKG, and one of the cardiology residents came and talked to us too.  She asked us a bunch of questions and said they would also do an ECG (like an ultrasound of the heart to make sure everything was structurally intact) and monitor him overnight.  Long story short on all this - everything came back clear, no other "pauses" happened, or anything else even questionable.  They do want us to follow up in a few weeks just to be safe, but basically they are chalking it up to just one of those things that we'll never be able to explain.  They said he's fine to have his dental work on Wednesday, although I'm sure I will be trying hard not to freak out over it!
Once he was ready to leave recovery they took us to the x-ray place to get x-rays of the implant.  Later on Dr. Chi came and showed us the pictures.  It's so wild to see a device implanted in your child's head,     completely mind blowing that it's even possible.  I don't remember at what time we got to our room, but poor James had a rough time of it the rest of the night.  When he was awake, he was nauseated and vomiting anything I gave him to drink.  This continued through the night.  They gave him iv fluids so he wouldn't dehydrate.  He absolutely hated the iv, and any time he got medication he would cry and fight the nurse.  (We had incredible nurses, by the way!!)  The morning brought no improvement.  I had fully expected at the beginning that we would be able to go home in the morning.  But with him still puking and refusing to drink, I was afraid we would be stuck there another night!  He was completely lethargic all morning, and I know so many people were praying for him.  Since he was still feeling sick, the nurse got the doctor to order an different kind of nausea medicine.  I forget the name of it, but it did the trick!  Around noon the nurse asked if maybe he would take a popsicle, since he wasn't interested in drinking.  We gave it a try, and lo and behold, it worked!  He ate it, then asked for more food.  So she brought him a second one and he scarfed it up too.  Then he was cleared to try food, so I ordered him some soup, fruit, and crackers.  He ate all that too, even wanted to feed himself.  He was also making his little noises again and acting more like himself.  We were discharged around 6:00 and gladly headed home!
It's so wonderful to be home.  Being in the hospital with him always reminds me to be so thankful for my healthy children.  Even when he was so sick, I knew he would get better soon and we would go home.  If not yesterday, then today at the latest.  But so many parents there don't have that confidence.  Sitting in the waiting room and listening to conversations was so heartbreaking.  I mean, here I was, excited for surgery, while some of these other parents had kids who were seriously hurt or ill, facing an uncertain future.  I am so grateful that James came through surgery just fine, even with the heartbeat incident.  I know I will never treat anesthesia casually again, nor will I take my children's health for granted.  I know of so many medically fragile children right now, and I pray for them regularly.  When you think of James, please take a minute to pray for kids who need a healing touch from the Lord.  If you don't know of any personally, you can pray for Selah, Ethan, Judah and Misha.

Friday, September 27, 2013

CI Number 1!

Well folks, the long awaited day (for Jason and I, at least) is finally here.  As I type James is in the OR receiving his first cochlear implant!!  It feels like it's taken forever to get here!  We've been talking to him about this surgery for a few weeks now, about going to the hospital and seeing the doctor.  I'm not sure how much he understands, but I think enough to know that surgery isn't something people usually enjoy!  When we got here he was fine, except for being angry that I wouldn't give him anything to eat.  When you check in they give the child a map of everything that happens from check-in to discharge.  He was looking at all the pictures, and when he saw the one of the OR he told he didn't like it, didn't like the gas mask.  So say what they will, he remembers what happens in there!  (One of the anesthesiologists told me that with the happy juice they gave him, he probably wouldn't remember anything.  Yeah, right.)  Anyway, we hung out for a little while, not as long as other times, and they gave him the happy juice.  He kept asking to go to sleep while we were waiting.  After about 30 minutes they came for us and we walked to the OR.  As soon as he saw it, he started getting upset and crying.  The staff was wonderful and let me hold him the whole time until he was asleep.  They tried to convince him the mask was good by having everyone smell it, but he wasn't buying it!  When they finally put it on him he cried and thrashed for about 20 seconds and then he was out.  And now I sit here in a fairly crowded waiting room for about 3 hours while this is implanted into his head.
The technology is quite astounding, really!  The round part has a magnet in it and gets attached to his skull, behind and above his ear.  The coils are electrodes that go into the cochlea and act as an artificial cocheal, if you will.  If you don't know how hearing works, here's a quick explanation: Sound goes into your ear canal and hits your eardrum.  The eardrum vibrates the small bones in the ear called the hammer, anvil, and stirrup.  The stirrup vibrates the cochlea, which is the part of your ear that looks like a sea shell.  It has little hairs inside, and the cochlea sends sound signals to the auditory nerve, which sends the messages to the brain.  So the implant gathers sound from the processor -
that is worn over the ear.  The round part attaches via the magnet to the internal device above.  The processor sends the sound signals to the electrodes in the cochlea and directly to the auditory nerve.  
When everything works correctly, a person using a CI has full access to sound and language, but it is different from regular hearing.  It produces a digitized sound, from what I've been told.  

Now the audiologist will test the internal device today, while James is still in the OR.  But he won't get the processor until October 23rd, his activation day.  Everything inside has to heal before the processor can be used.  Once activated, it will take quite some time before James understands what he's hearing.  Think of it like a newborn.  They can hear, but everything is just noise.  It takes months before they can understand words and distinguish between sounds.  With James, it will be like that and then some.  His brain has gone a long time without any auditory input, so he has a lot of work to do to learn to hear.  And while some kids with CIs do learn to talk and develop clear speech, others don't.  We have no way of knowing which of those James will be, but if you know him, you know he's a "talker," so we are optimistic that he will be motivated to learn to speak.  Either way, signing will be a part of his life, and our lives, because ultimately he is still a deaf child.  So if you're thinking that his CI let's you off the hook for learning some sign language, it doesn't!  :)))

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Secret Keeper

I recently finished another of my free-for-review reads from Bethany House publishers, Beverly Lewis's newest release called The Secret Keeper.  If you are familiar with Lewis, you know she write novels about the Amish that, for me, are quite addicting.  While I do not agree with all the Amish's beliefs, I do think they are on to something with their simpler lifestyles.  Anyway, this newest book has a bit of a twist in that the main character, Jenny, is English (not Amish) but desperately wants to be Amish.  She has to go through a Proving time, proving that she is willing to leave behind all the trappings of her former life and embrace the Old Ways.  In the meantime, she learns a secret that she should not know.  Telling this secret would destroy a family, but keeping the secret will mean risking her own acceptance into the community.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book, as I have all of Lewis's other books.  It started me thinking about secrets, how we all keep secrets, and how very few of them are actually good.  I'm not even all that thrilled with surprises, which are a good kind of secret, so I tend to think that secrets generally serve no good purpose.  Secrets, when kept, can hide painful and shameful memories and prevent the wounded person from finding healing.  When such secrets are revealed, often many years later, even more people suffer hurt and shame that might not otherwise have happened had truth been told from the beginning.
At the same time though, I know that I am very guilty of keeping secrets - my honest thoughts and feelings, opinions, dreams, fears, and so on.  I do not like to expose to myself very often or to very many.  And more often than not  sometimes, it backfires on me when I do. But I am learning that this is not a good reason not to share myself with other people that have proven trustworthy.  You never know who will benefit from what you have to say, or even you yourself might be blessed and find healing in the end.
I also think about my James, and so many other children like him, who keep the secrets of their years prior to adoption.  I hope that someday he will have the language to reveal those secrets - what life was really like in the foster home, how he felt when we came and took him halfway around the world, and how he feels about his new life now.  I know he holds so many memories that can't be expressed yet, and I know he will have just as many questions!
Speaking of James, he is doing pretty well.  I think we might be getting past the most recent period of grief, but I fully expect another one to happen at the end of next month, which will be the anniversary of Tom's (foster dad) death.  Even though James doesn't know he died, James knows Tom was there one day and then gone the next, never to be seen again.  And some day I will have to explain what actually happened to daddy Tom.  But we will cross that bridge when we come to it!  In the meantime, we look forward to getting cochlear implant number one, along with some more much needed dental work.  Therapy through the AIU continues, and he is doing well, and making a lot of progress in language.  Although more often than not, I still have no idea what he's trying to tell me!  But he is trying, and that's what matters most at this point.  He enjoys going to Sunday school, and last week I let him try the Wednesday night class for his age.  He seemed to have fun, and he even paid a little bit of attention to the story!  And he wasn't a complete wreck on Thursday, like he usually is after a new experience.  We are still waiting on consent to finalize from the ICAB, and it really needs to come soon if we are going to get the paperwork in on time to get things settled by the end of the year.  This has been such a long process!  The short stay in-country was nice and very easy as far as the other kids were concerned, but I don't know if it was worth the long wait to have everything final.
I'd leave you with some pictures, but I don't have any loaded onto our new computer yet, so you'll just have to wait!!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Dark Road Home

Sounds ominous, doesn't it??  It's actually the title of my latest free-for-review book from Bethany House.  And it was a little ominous in parts!  At the risk of sounding like a super big nerd, I feel like discovering a new author to love is like meeting a new friend that feels like an old friend.  In that case, Elizabeth Ludwig is my new old friend.  I hadn't even heard of her before, but am I ever glad I chose her book to review!  Dark Road Home is actually book 2 in a trilogy, and as soon as I finished it I ordered book 1 from my local library.  Ludwig is a beautiful story teller, weaving a tale of love and suspense that kept me turning the pages far too late into the night!  As I mentioned, it had some ominous moments with evil bad guys and mysterious meetings, and the main characters both had to grapple with demons from their past.  In the end, well, not exactly the end since Ludwig so kindly leaves her readers hanging, truth and love win, with more than a little help from the Lord! 

Ok, now back to real life... I can't believe the summer is almost over!  The weather around here has made it feel like summer is long gone and fall is here in full force.  We started the school year last week, albeit slowly.  So far, so good!  I took forever deciding on curriculum, and I still don't have everything.  (I accidentally ordered Aedan a 6th grade spelling book.  Oops!) But we have the main subjects now, so hopefully we can get moving at a more consistent pace in the next week or two.  
James is doing really well, and his signing has greatly improved in the last month or so.  We had our sweet friend Jess (Deaf teenager from church) come over about 2 days a week all summer and just hang out with us, whatever we were doing.  It was really good for all the kids, and helped them all improve.  Liana is still by far the best of the 3 of them, not surprising to anyone.  But Aedan is signing more, and James' expressive language has impressed me on a number of occasions.  His vocabulary is growing, and he is able to talk about things we've done after the fact.  He can answer some questions, sometimes.  We are still working on colors and counting, but it's coming along. 
Last week he had his last hearing test, with his hearing aids in this time.  Once again, he didn't hear a thing.  Shocking, I know.  The boy didn't hear a cannon or an air horn going off.  He certainly wasn't going to hear the staticky noise of the hearing test!  Yesterday we saw the ENT for the last time before implant surgery.  The audiologist told me to expect 4-6 weeks until his surgery date.  I was really hoping for closer to the 4 week mark, but nope, 6 weeks to the day, on September 27th, James will have his first surgery to have a cochlear implant put in his left ear.  It feels so far away, but if the last 7 months are any indication, I know it will fly by.  And yes, James has been home 7 months as of tomorrow!  All of our post placement reports were sent back to the Philippines at the beginning of this month, and now we wait for the consent to finalize.  Six to eight weeks is what I was told is the average wait time for consent.  Then we have to file a bunch more paperwork on this end before I can finally start saying Yusko instead of Gonora!  I know he doesn't know the difference right now, but I do, and I very much want it all to be final and official.  I would love to show you some pictures now, but my ghetto computer is refusing to upload anything!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Hearing the Voice of God

Got your attention, didn't I?  The title of my latest free read from Bethany House got my attention too.  A Woman's Guide to Hearing God's Voice by Leighann McCoy seemed to be just what I needed right now.  While it was a very good read, and I enjoyed the author's voice very much, the book should have had a different title.  It wasn't exactly a guide to hearing God's voice, but it did have some timely words for my life when I read it.  It put some things I was struggling with in perspective, and reminded me of some truths that were being clouded by life.  I am also looking forward to reading other books by this author that were mentioned in this book.
Fast forward to this morning.  I was reading a most interesting and weird story in 1 Kings 13.  The Old Testament is full of such stories, in case you are under the assumption that it's all laws and genealogies. Anyway, this particular story I've read before, and I still don't quite get it.  The section is titled "The Man of God from Judah" and it's about this guy who is only referred to as "the man of God" or "the man of God from Judah."  He prophesies against King Jeroboam, who was a particularly wicked king, and then gives a sign to testify that what he said will happen.  The king's hand becomes shriveled, and while he doesn't repent, he asks the man to pray for him, which he does, and God restores Jeroboam's hand.  At which point, instead of repenting or even thanking God, the king offers the man of God a meal and a gift.  Clearly this was the wrong response, and the man of God refused, saying that the Lord had told him not to eat or drink anything while he was there, and to go home by a different road than he had come.  The man of God left the king and headed home on a different road, just like he was supposed to.  Now here is where the story gets interesting.  Another guy, simply called "an old prophet" heard what the man of God had done and went after him.  He also offered the man of God a meal, but the man responded the same way he had to the king.  Only this time, the old prophet was not persuaded as easily as the king, and he made up a story about an angel telling him to bring the man of God to his house and feed him.  And the man of God believes him and goes to his house!  Here's where I want to yell at the man of God, and say, "Hello?  McFly!!  Aren't you even going to question this guy?  Or maybe inquire of the Lord yourself to see if this guy is legit??"  But he doesn't.  He just goes.  The man of God who should know better, who should know that he should just do what he was told, did otherwise.  It bothers me a great deal to think that someone whom one would assume is close to the Lord and hears his voice clearly could so easily be led astray.  If he had not been described as a man of God, and was just some guy God chose to use that day, then maybe I could understand. 
So they go to the prophet's house, and they eat and drink.  And before they're even finished, the real word of the Lord came to the old prophet, and he rebukes the man of God for his disobedience and foretells his death!!  Again, here's where I would interject.  Where is the rebuke from the Lord for the lying prophet??  Why isn't he the one being killed for lying in the name of the Lord??  And why in the world did he lie in the first place?  There's no motive that I can see, except that he really wanted to have lunch with this guy.  Sometimes I just can't understand why people make the poor choices they do, when they clearly know better.  Ok, everyday I can't understand why I make the poor choices I do when I clearly know better!  But this guy was a prophet, again, someone from whom we should expect a higher standard.  I guess it just goes to show that no one is immune to temptation.  Now the word says that "when the man of God had finished eating and drinking...he went on his way."  What?!?!?!  No repentance, no pleading with the Lord for mercy?!?!  Is this guy daft?  Or does he not take the old prophet's words seriously?  Surely if he had repented, God would have forgiven him and he would not have been mauled by a lion on his way home.  But he didn't, and he was.
Like I said, weird story!!  A few thoughts I have after all this.  One, if God has told you to do (or not do) something, don't let someone else talk you out of it (or into it!), even if they are someone you respect spiritually.  Two, no one is infallible.  Everyone can give in to temptation, and we must not put our leaders on pedestals, but recognize that they are every bit as human as those they lead.  And third, please, if you find yourself on the wrong road, repent!  Humble yourself, ask God for mercy, and he will give it.  After all, no one really wants to be lion food.
p.s.  The weirdest part of the story was that the lion just hung out by the body until the prophet heard what happened and came for the man of God to bury him, along with the donkey he was riding.  So strange.  No one who actually reads the Bible can even claim it's boring, that's for sure!!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Neuropsych and King

Weird title, I know, but you'll see once you read on. 
As part of the cochlear implant process, James needed to have a neuropsych evaluation.  Don't ask me why, I have no idea.  But the audiologist told me that the nice folks from that office would be in touch with me to schedule.  Well, more than a month later, still no call.  Emailed Dr. Kate and she said she contacted them again and they assured her they would contact me soon.  I asked if she had a number, I would just call myself.  She said, no, they have to call you.  Two or three weeks after that, I got fed up with waiting and decided to call them anyway, whether they liked it or not.  I talked to three different receptionists before finally getting the one who could set up the appointment.  This was on Monday, the 24th.  She told me that the earliest appointment available was September 19th!!!!  But if there was a cancellation, she would call me.  Well, needless to say, I was less than pleased.  Besides the fact that it was almost 3 months away, we really wanted to get him in before our insurance ran out (Jason got a new job that he starts next week, and benefits don't kick in for 90 days, and we still had not been approved for medicaid.).  I didn't want to risk them calling sometime in the next three months and having to pay for the eval ourselves.  I'm sure it's not cheap!  Anyway, I prayed that God's will would be done in this whole situation and tried not to obsess about it.  Well, I guess God thought it was too long too, because on Wednesday morning we got a call saying there was a cancellation for Thursday, and did I want it?  Um...yes!!!  So Thursday morning Toothless and I headed to Children's, yet again, for this very important piece of the process.  First the doctor asked me a hundred questions about what James can and can't do, what he's like at home, etc.  Then she sat down with him and tested him for probably an hour!  He had to find objects in a scene, match pictures and shapes, find objects that went with each other, and I don't even know what else.  But he did, and I quote, "amazing!"  Both the doctor doing the testing, and a new doctor who was observing, were so impressed with him and his nonverbal abilities.  And again, that was so reassuring to me!  Like I said before, many times I'm not sure the boy has a brain in his head!  But he definitely does, and she feels he is an excellent implant candidate.  So now that everyone is on board, I'm really hoping that when we go to our follow-up appointment with the ENT on the 10th that he will let us get a surgery date put on the calendar.  James still has to have another hearing test sometime at the end of July, but we all know it's going to say the same thing as all the others.  He hears nothing, even with the hearing aids.  So I don't see any reason not to schedule, optimistically sometime in August.  But we'll see what Dr. Chi says.  And as far as the insurance concern, yesterday I got a call from a recording that turned out to be from Medicaid, saying that our enrollment packet is coming in the mail.  At first I had no idea what it was, since it was a recording, and never actually said the word medicaid or medical assistance.  Just Pennsylvania something-or-other.  But when it said we needed to choose a PCP and health plan, I got very excited!  It gave a website, so I checked it out and it was definitely medicaid.  So praise God, James will not go uninsured!  Which is a really good thing, first for the implant, and because he is now complaining about another tooth hurting!!!  This time a bottom molar, one that is mostly filling.  Thinking it will probably need to come out too, but after the last fiasco at the oral surgeon, I am not too excited about that prospect.  And since it's mostly filling, I don't know if he'll even be able to just pull it, or if it will require surgical removal like the other one.  The filling is still intact, at least, so that's good.  But it looks like we will be making another trip to our bow-tied oral surgeon.  Hip hip hooray.
Ok, if you're still reading, you're probably wondering what the "King" is all about in the title.  So I shall satisfy your curiosity now!  "King" by R.J. Larson is my most current free read from Bethany House.  It is the third and final book in a series, the first two being "Prophet" and "Judge."  Part action, part romance, part spiritual, The Books of the Infinite, as they are called, are a parallel to Old Testament times, with the Infinite being the One True God, and a host of pagan nations and false gods making trouble for the faithful followers of the Infinite.  These books are beautifully written, the characters well-rounded with depth and growth, and the plot is well layered without becoming bogged down.  The way the main characters interact with the Infinite make me want that kind of relationship with God.  Their devotion and obedience (and sometimes disobedience and subsequent forgiveness) is realistic and inspiring.  I highly recommend all three of these books, and I look forward to more from this author.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Whole Bunch of Things

Well, this really should be about 3 or 4 different posts, but since I've been a slacker you'll have to read this one very long one instead!  And again, it will probably be a bit scattered.  It's been a rough week and a half.  While still dealing with an unpleasant surprise that left me reeling, the next day a man that used to go to our church and that was good friends with good friends of ours was killed in a work accident.  He left behind a wife and two young boys.  Whenever a dad dies, it brings back a lot of memories and emotions I don't prefer to think about.  And being right on the heels of the unpleasant surprise made it ten times worse.  But at the same time, it reminded me not to take people for granted, or to stay angry at someone you love.  You never know when that someone might be taken from you.  At the end of the week we found out that some very special friends lost their baby.  Completely heartbreaking, and so overwhelming, all this grief.  All I can do is pray, Jesus be near, which I have, over and over again.  Sometimes (okay, a lot of time) it's really hard to accept life.  I'd rather just scream "Why God?!?!  What are you doing?!?!?!"  And while I know I could do that, and God could handle it, it really wouldn't serve any purpose.  God doesn't owe me or anyone else an explanation, and even if he did explain, it's not likely that my pint-size brain would understand it anyway.  I just have to trust that God is still God, and his ways truly are higher than my ways, and his thoughts higher than my thoughts.  And no matter what happens, he is worthy of my praise, now and forevermore.
In the middle of all that, there have been some good points!  James finally started his therapies through the AIU.  He's had speech twice, and he has his second session with the deaf ed and special ed teachers on Friday.  All three ladies are great, and they love James.  They are very impressed with how well he is doing, which is very encouraging to me.  I can see that he is definitely making progress, and yet sometimes ... well, sometimes I think the child doesn't have a brain in his head!  But I guess I think that about my other two kiddos at times too, so it's probably not as big of a deal as I make it with him.  On Tuesday we finally got those troublesome top front teeth pulled.  It was a completely traumatic experience.  Apparently the boy hates needles, and it took quite a while, and a whole lot of screaming, to get him in a head lock of sorts so the doctor could get the novacaine in.  Once we got that done it was smooth sailing, and he is now "our little hillbilly" with only 3 top teeth.  Wednesday was Aedan's pinewood derby race at church.  He had a great time racing his car, and he did really well.  Thurdsday and Friday we went to the pool.  All three kids love to swim, and James had a blast.  He goes underwater just fine, and he would jump in if he was clutching my hand.  Mostly he played on the steps where it's the most shallow.  We did have an odd occurence with one of the lifeguards telling me that he didn't like the way James was putting his face in the water.  Still not sure why, but no one else has said anything about him.  And today I even got him to jump in without holding on to me.  He didn't do it willingly at first, but eventually he did and had quite a good time.  Over the weekend we had our last post placement visit with our social worker, Ernie.  Now just some more paperwork (big shocker) and James will officially be a Yusko!  We also had softball games and dinner at my parents' house.  It feels weird to not have any more appointments for a while, but nice.  And we still have plenty going on to keep us busy!

Aedan is trying to catch up to James in the lost teeth dept.

red. neck.

This month's family photo for the ICAB

dirtball #1

dirtball #2

My big girl!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Some random thoughts on Father's Day

This post might be a little bit all over the place, so sorry in advance if it seems scattered.

My most recent free book from Bethany House was The Quarryman's Bride by Tracie Peterson.  TP is in my top three favorite authors for historical fiction, probably my top two even.  This book was no exception to her  top-notch story telling.  The main character Emmalyne has a tyrant for a father, and much of the story deals with their family dynamics and how having a less-than-loving father impacted her life.  Without giving things away, suffice it to say that the story offers hope to daughters who have been wounded by their fathers, that the Lord can heal and restore.  Nothing is too hard for God, and God's constant love and care even when we don't feel it are also main themes of the story.

Growing up, my dad was not exactly the demonstrative type when it came to love and affection.  Rarely did he offer complimentary or encouraging words, and he could be hard and sarcastic more often than not.  He also worked extremely hard, and didn't believe in days off or vacations.  I think that providing for us was his way of showing his love.  But it left me wanting, and by the time I was a teenager and into college, we had a pretty lousy relationship.  One time we had this major blowout fight, that was completely awful, but after that things started to improve.  I only had a few short years of having a really good relationship with my dad.  But it made such a huge difference, and when he died I had no doubts of his love for me.  It's been ten years now, and I still miss him like crazy.  I wish my kids could have known their Pappy Steve, and I always wonder what he would have been like with them.  But praise God, He brought a wonderful step-dad into my lif about 6 years ago, and I love him dearly.  He loves my kids, he is always willing to do anything he can to help us, even if it's not the most convenient for him.  And my kids love their Pappy Dan to pieces.  And he makes my mom happy, which is something my dad didn't do very well.
Thinking about all these things today has been hard, and then we got hit with this crazy spiritual attack that came out of nowhere.  We should never be surprised by such things, I guess, but I was not expecting this situation, and truly I have NO IDEA how it even happened.  Which has left me wondering about how much power the devil actually has over people.  I mean, I know that unless you are possessed, he can't force you to do things, but he can suggest them.  And people who aren't following the Lord likely have no reason not to act on those suggestions.  But the idea that people would willingly cause other people pain and trouble is always hard to swallow for me.  Or that they don't consider the impact their actions might have is just as troubling.  Either way, sin is an awful thing.  We realize it much more when something "big" happens that shows just how destructive sin is, but those "little" things are just as dangerous, maybe even more so.  In this morning's message we were admonished to not give the devil a foothold.  I keep saying that phrase over and over to myself now.  I don't want the devil to have even a pinch hold in me or my family, let alone space enough for his whole foot!  Pray for us, if you would, and guard yourself and your family well.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sweet Mercy, fact and fiction

Now, before you get all nervous, the fiction part is a book review, on Ann Tatlocks's novel, Sweet Mercy, which I received for free from Bethany House to read and review.   A departure from my preferred time period of historical fiction, this book was well written and kept me turning the pages from beginning to end.  Set during the era of Prohibition, Sweet Mercy offers a look at a troubled time in our nation's history, and how it affected so many people.  I found myself relating to the main character on many levels, in her struggle with self-righteousness and her adamant view that everything in life is either black or white, right or wrong.  This book raises thought-provoking questions about morality and ethics, and will challenge readers to consider what their own response might have been in that situation.  The characters are well developed and the story line moves along at a nice pace. 

Now for the facts.  You need mercy.  I need mercy.  Without the Lord's mercy, we would be utterly destroyed in a moment.  The Bible says that because of his mercies, "we are not consumed, for his compassions fail not."  Let me be real with you for a minute.  The last month+ has been rough.  Like, really rough.  And I can't even tell you why.  Yes, we had illnesses and surgeries and more illness and poison ivy, but nothing was so terrible in and of itself.  Maybe it was the culmination of it all, I don't know.  But I know that I felt consumed, and not in a good way.  Consumed by anger, by never-ending frustration, by this permeating heaviness that I couldn't seem to shake.  I begged God daily to help me, and repented nightly for all the times I failed each day.  And they were many, let me tell you!  I can't remember a time that I disliked myself more than the last 6 or so weeks.  But the Lord's mercies!!  How I would love to tell you that I had this supernatural encounter with the Holy Spirit in my prayer time, or even in church.  But it's not happening that way.  Instead, I see God's mercy in small things, in everyday things.  Just when I think I can't go one more day, one more minute, God's mercy is there.  Even when I don't feel helped, HE is helping me.  I know this because I am still here, my children are all in one piece, and my husband still loves me :)  Seriously, though, He must be helping me, and has sent very precious people to help me when I needed it most.  I'd also love to tell you that everyday is perfect, all rainbows and sunshine now, and that I never get angry or annoyed or frustrated, that I never yell or speak harshly to a member of my family.  But you'd know I was lying, so I won't bother!  But I will tell you that it's better than it was, and we can only go up from here! 

I really have no idea how many people actually read this blog, or who you are who are reading right now, but let me just say this: Whatever you are going through, however you are feeling, whatever wrong choices you have made today...mercy is there.  It is for you, the Lord is offering it freely.  Accept it, rejoice in it, and allow it to change you.  Praise the Lord, for his mercy endures forever.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Just another week of crazy!

Someday, we will have a normal week!!  But it was not this week!  It started on Sunday, with James being brought up to us from Sunday school because his tooth was hurting.  By the time we got home he was all out crying (shrieking, really) about this tooth!  And James does NOT complain about pain or sickness, as a general rule (except for the stomach bug we had over Memorial Day!), so I knew it was really hurting.  He'd actually been complaining about it for a while, but I figured that it was the tooth he had removed that was causing the teeth beside it to hurt so I didn't pay much attention.  But it's been over two weeks since that surgery, so it wasn't that.  And since it was the weekend, there wasn't much to be done except give him some tylenol and wait until morning to call the dentist.  Which I did, and thankfully they had one appointment open Monday morning.  I had to leave work to take him, but it was that or nothing.  I was very afraid of an abscess or something that would require more extractions, but the x-ray showed nothing amiss.  So our good dentist took out the filling that was put in a while ago, numbed him up with some novacaine for the first time (he was not a fan), and drilled it out thoroughly.  Probably a good third of the tooth was drilled out and then refilled.  Unfortunately, as of today he is still crying about it every time I brush his teeth, and he won't bite or chew on that side.  So I will be calling Dr. Terry again Monday morning.  Poor boy could end up toothless on top by the time all is said and done!  The tooth in question is the front left tooth.  He only has that one and the one right beside it remaining on that side.  And only three teeth left on the right side, so he really can't afford to lose any more!  But we will see what the dentist says.
Tuesday we had tube surgery and accessory tragus removal.  Your tragus is that part of your ear you would push down if you were trying to plug your ears.  On the inside of James's left ear was a little growth that we could not get a hearing aid mold to fit.  So off it came, along with another little growth that was on the outside of his ear.  It wasn't really bothering anything, but we figured that while he was at it, the ENT might as well just take it off too.  James took forever to wake up, and then he got sick, probably from the change in pressure in his ears.  So they had to give him more meds and fluid, and we were at the hospital until after 7PM.  But by the time we got home he was himself again, and ate yogurt, peanut butter toast, and chicken and rice. 
Wednesday we trekked back to Children's for a hearing test that was scheduled quite a while ago, before I had to reschedule the tubes surgery.  And he seemed to be feeling fine, so off we went.  This test was to establish what, if any, residual hearing he has.  He did really well doing what he was supposed to do, and basically she said that he can hear super loud sounds at low frequencies.  Think airplane, jackhammer, etc.  But nothing really that you would hear in a normal day.  The left ear did test slightly better than the right, so once we can put that hearing aid in, he might get something, but probably only really loud sounds, not language or anything like that.  He has to wear both aids for about a month, then we'll go back for a test with them in, to see if they are doing anything for him.  He still has to have a neuro-psych evaluation, and I am still waiting for them to call me and schedule that.  Once that and the aided hearing test are done, a final decision will be made regarding implants.  But the ENT told me that as far as he is concerned, he's ready to do it now.  So I'm pretty sure we'll be a go once we jump through all the necessary hoops.
The rest of the week was actually pretty quiet, except for a running low-grade fever that the ENT nurse assured me was fine, twice :)  And today there was some blood in his right ear when I took his aid out to check his temp, but the ENT on-call said that was fine too. 
On top of all that, Liana seems to have inherited by allergic-to-poison-ivy gene, and broke out with it on her face on Monday.  I have some steroid cream on hand, and I slathered her in it all week and it's clearing up nicely.  I, on the other hand, keep finding new itchy spots on my arms, one on my neck, on both feet, and starting on my leg.  Mind you, I went nowhere near the poison ivy.  I have washed all our bedding, and I wear long pants and long sleeves all day.  And still it spreads.  Beause my body is awesome like that.  Definitely on my list of things to ask God is "What was the point of poison ivy??!!!!!"

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Home is Where the Heart Is

If that's the case, then I'd say James' heart is still in the Philippines.  This morning he asked me, with a very nice smile, "can please have go home."  This is after yesterday when he was crying and crying for no reason so I asked if he wanted to look at his pictures.  He did, so I got them out and we looked through them.  When he saw Tom, foster dad, he pointed and signed dad.  I responded with spelling T-o-m, and then pointing to Jason and signing DAD.  He wasn't very pleased, but he copied my fingerspelling and after a few times I added a name-sign.  Trying to make the connection that Tom is different from Dad and Diane is different from Mom.  We did this again when we got to pictures of Diane.  And he signed HOME a few times at other pictures in the books.  I tried to explain that that was his home before, and this is his home now, but I don't think he gets it.
When we were looking through the books I realized that yesterday was the anniversary of James going to the live at the foster home.  He was just an infant, and he has no concept of days or dates, so I'm sure he didn't know, but it was kind of ironic anyway.  And I imagine Diane was very aware of the date, and probably his birth mom was as well.  Adoption is such a hard thing.  It's beautiful, but it's hard.  For everyone.  But maybe mostly for the little boy who still doesn't understand why he now lives with us, and why he can't go back to where he lived before.  I can only pray that the Lord will heal his heart, and that someday soon he will have the language to understand why his life suddenly turned upside down.  And I pray that he will see God's hand taking care of him and bringing him to this place, this new family, this new life. 

In other news, this has been a month of illness and injury!  At the beginning of the month both James and Liana were sick, one with another episode of croup and the other with strep.  After that was surgery to finally remove the two bad teeth in his mouth.  Last week he had a random fever with no other symptoms for two days, then a day of no fever, followed by the return of said fever but this time it brought its friends - diarrhea and vomiting.  My favorite.  After a few days, a scary high fever, and a trip to the ER for some very good drugs, it seems we are finally on the mend.  This was the first thing that brought James to a stop and made him actually act sick.  Poor little guy was just miserable!  He's still not 100%, and therefore I had to reschedule the surgery he was supposed to have today to put tubes in and take a skin tag off.  I know it was the right decision, but the next available date the doctor had was July 16th!!!!  So I'm a bit concerned as to what this will do to our implant timeline, but it couldn't be helped, so I'll try not to obsess about it! :)


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Story Time, Zoo, Dental Surgery, and a Book Review for Good Measure

Well, as I expected, Jody Hedlund did not diappoint!  I read my free copy of A Noble Groom from Bethany House in about 3 days.  I could not put this one down!  JH has quickly become one of my favorite historical fiction authors, right up there with Tracie Peterson and Jane Kirkpatrick.  Her characters are well developed; she makes you love the good guys (girls!) and hate the bad guys.  Most romance novels of any time period have some predictable elements, as does this author, but the plot also contains enough twists and surprises to keep you guessing and the story moving along at a nice pace.  She also brings to light the plight of immigrant farmers in that time period (the late 1800s) that I had not known or thought about before.  I look forward to reading more from this author in the future!

Now, back to James and our eventful week.  Yesterday we tried out story time at the library.   I used to take the other two regularly, but we got out of the habit with homeschooling.  With not much work left to do, I decided to renew that activity.  James did great and seemed to really enjoy himself.  I had to keep nudging him with my foot so he would look at me and I could explain the story.  He just wanted to see the pictures and participate in the story.  Our story time lady, Miss Liz, does a great job of involving the kids in the story by doing motions and such.  Neither Aedan or Liana has ever participated in this poart, but James just jumped right in!  And he kept trying to tell Miss Liz things while she was reading.  Sometimes he is such a normal 4 year old, and other times... Anyway, during the stories I kept tearing up!  I don't know if it was just the fact that he was there, (I remember last year wondering what it would be like to bring him.) or the fact that he couldn't fully understand what was going on, nor was he fully aware that the kids behind him were talking and asking random questions like preschoolers do.  I don't know what it was!  But he did well sitting, for the most part, and he made the craft and was quite proud of himself.  We will definitely keep story time as part of our schedule from now on!
Today was dental surgery day, take 2!  Since we didn't have to be there until 12:30, and I didn't want to have to keep telling him he couldn't eat all morning, I decided we would go to the zoo as a distraction.  Besides the fact that about 12 schools had field trips today and the place was PACKED, it was a great idea.  I know James went to a zoo in the Philippines last year, when they got stuck coming home from Manila, but I don't know what kind of animals he saw there.  He knew the signs for some of the animals, and picked up the rest pretty quickly.  Mostly I think he enjoyed running with his siblings and friend.  At the elephant exhibit I met a lady who told me she and her husband are thinking and praying about adopting a deaf child!  We got to chat for a few minutes, and that was very exciting to me.  James was not at all pleased when we had to leave, especially since Aedan and Liana were staying with my friend.  But we got to the hospital and he started talking about getting his teeth pulled, and telling me he was hungry every few minutes.  Surgery was scheduled for 2:00, but they ended up not taking him until almost 3.  Given that he had not eaten anything all day, or had a drink since 11:00, he did very well waiting.  He is such a trooper about things like that, but other things...he can whine and complain with the best of them!  The surgery was quick, both teeth extracted, and he woke up super quick.  But he would not drink the juice they make you drink before you can leave!  I was ready to finish it myself just so we could go home!!  The finally discharged us around 6:00 and we headed home, where James promptly inhaled yogurt, then had carrots and bbq chicken!!  Nothing was going to keep this boy from eating a real dinner, not even two holes in his face!!
Tomorrow we go back to the audiologist to pick up the other hearing aid, so now he will have to squealing ears.  Yippee!  But at least his head will be balanced.  You know how asymmetrical things bother me!! 
Here are some pictures from the zoo today!

This was right in front of us...

And they were all mesmerized by fish and ducks.

Biggest. Puffer fish. Ever.

The polar bear was right up by the glass.

This girl LOVES her polar bears!


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day and other things

My first Mother's Day as a mom of 3, and as an adoptive mama.  It came on the heels of a rough evening, that left me feeling very inadequate to raise this little guy entrusted to me.  Some days I just don't know what to do with him.  I mean, I don't know how to reach him, how to communicate with him, what to realistically expect of him, what he needs.  But my hubby prayed with me and said some encouraging things.  And then I started reading a book called Parenting from the Overflow, which also had some encouraging things to say.  And this morning the message was about Jehoshaphat, and about relying on God when we don't know what to do and don't even have the ability to do it if we did know.  Then another adoptive mom gave me some encouragement as well, and it was lovely.  At the beginning of service was baby dedication.  Except that today, instead of babies, there were two very special little boys, both adopted this year.  Our James, and his little buddy Lorvens.  It was so sweet to have them dedicated together, for a few reasons.  In November, on Orphan Sunday, our church prayer for us and for Lorvens' family together, putting both boys' pictures on the screen together.  And today, here they are, together in person.  Such a testimony of God's faithfulness, and hopefully an inspiration to families who may be on the fence about adopting.  Plus, these little guys really are buddies.  Lorvens doesn't speak much English yet, so language isn't so much of an issue for them.  They just like to play together as little boys.  I hope they will grow and become true friends, as they share a bond that most kids can't understand. 
In other news, I'm fairly sure James' tooth is infected, the one that is coming out on Thursday.  Hopefully we can get him an antibiotic or something to make it to Thursday.  I don't know if getting him in any earlier is a possibility, or if they can even operate if there's infection.  So I'll be calling to oral surgeon first thing tomorrow.
And lastly, I have my first book review to give you.  I recently signed up to be a book reviewer for Bethany Publishing.  I don't get paid or anything, but I get free books, and I get to give my opinion on them.  So the first book I received is called These Are the Days of Elijah by R.T. Kendall.  And I must say, I was very disappointed by my first choice of books.  The book was a study on the life of Elijah, but it wasn't anything extremely insightful or life-changing.  It was thorough in it's exposition of the Scriptures, but the writing was weak, the illustrations were flat and left me wanting more details.  Several Christian cliches popped up, and the kindle version contained many typos which is a big issue for me.  Also, the author and I do not see eye to eye on some theological issues, but other readers might not find that to be the case.  Overall, if you don't know anything about Elijah, this might be a good read for you.  But if you have already studied this prophet to any extent, you should probably look for another book.  The good news is that now that I'm finally done with this book, I can move on to my next book by Jody Hedlund.  I thoroughly enjoyed the last book I read by her, so I'm confident that my next review will be a positive one.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Croup is poop.

Sorry, I couldn't resist.  Besides, I hate trying to title my posts.  And James has croup again.  At least I'm about 99% sure that's what it is.  He woke up a few nights ago with a ragin fever, and then the coughing started.  It's not quite as bad as last time, thankfully.  And we have the medications they gave us, so I've been giving him those.  But we've had several nights of not very good sleep, and one incredibly clingy boy during the day.  Plus Liana has been sick all week too, with strep or something similar.  But, praise God, both kids felt well enough yesterday for us to make it to our two appointments that I really did not want to cancel.  (Today they are just laying around though!) 
Our morning appointment was with Dr. Chi, our ENT, to go over the CT and MRI we had done last week.  Structurally James' ears are perfect, which I find very ironic since those are the things that don't work, and he has so many other abnormalities that don't affect much of his day-to-day like.  But it was very good news, because it means he is a candidate for cochlear implants.  (I know some people reading this might not agree with our choice to go this route, and I respect that.  But it's what we've chosen and I hope you will respect that.)  So now we just have to finish out the hearing aid trial, which is completely pointless since they do absolutely nothing!  Dr. Chi did recommend having tubes put in, as the CT showed fluid behind both ears, and he has had no ear infections that I know of since being home.  So that will be done at the end of the month, and he will also remove the skin tag on the inside of James' left ear.
Our second appointment was at the Child Development Unit at Children's.  We didn't learn a whole lot, as she didn't do any actual testing with him.  She just examined him and all his abnormalities and asked me a whole bunch of questions.  She does want to do more extensive developmental testing than what he has already had, and she recommended we do some genetic testing as well.  She is fairly sure that all of his anomalies are connected, and genetic testing could give us that connection, as well as add more pieces to the puzzle that is James.  Having a diagnosis of sorts could help us identify cognitive delays or disabilites, and help us know how to help him.  I really worry that there is some kind of cognitive problem, based on some of the things is he still unable to do, like draw a square or easily trace lines on a page.  He also struggles with simple matching puzzles, and jigsaw puzzles are out of the question.  But he CAN sort by color and shape, and he's mostly able to sort by size.  Counting is still not there, nor are most colors.  It's so hard to know what is just delay from lack of exposure/teaching, and what is a genuine problem.  Hopefully once he starts therapy we'll get a better idea.  In the meantime I beg God for wisdom, grace, and patience!! 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Birthday Girl!!

Today my baby girl turned 5!!  She celebrated with a fever and sore throat, lots of movies and books, Gatorade, popsicles, ice cream, and Chick-Fil-A.  But she was so excited that it was her birthday!
I have been waiting since Aedan's birthday to be able to write this post and brag on my Honey-girl just a little bit.  She has been mama's girl since day 1, and has had the hardest time with the transition of adding a new sibling.  But she has adjusted beautifully and is the best signer of the three of them!  She loves her little brother (when he's not pinching her!) and has to be reminded often that she is not the mom!  She loves to help do just about anything, but she's not too keen on doing chores on her own.  If you know her, you know she can't say her L's or R's, and that they both come out as a W.  But lately I've been catching her saying L properly here and there.  It's such a sad thing, because it means she really is growing up, but like I tell people who say they hope she never outgrows it, "It won't be that cute when she's 14!"  And speaking of 14, you'd think she is 14 sometimes, with the drama that comes pouring out of her little body!  We are working to curb that, but mostly unsuccessfully thus far!  Liana is as stubborn as the day is long, as they say; a trait that I hope will work to her advantage in the future in keeping her from giving into peer pressure.  She is very much my child in that respect, and in several others.  She's a picky eater, even been known to gag on foods she doesn't like, and usually decides not to like it before it's even in her mouth.  She loves music and will sing at the top of her lungs to all her "fwavwite" songs on K-love.  (My kids listen to whatever I listen to, and they both love it!)  Her current favorite is the Chris Tomlin Burning Lights cd, but she also really likes the Passion 2013.  She only needs to hear a song once or twice before she is singing along.  Oh, how I love to hear her sing praises to the Lord!  I pray that she will grow and develop a true heart of worship. 
Her newest interest is reading!  Finally, a member of my family who shares my passion for books!!  I have caught her awake until almost 10:00 at night reading her Bible.  She reads it every night by herself after we read together as a family.  And there are usually at least two library books also in her room at any given time, which she reads in bed.  This school year we worked through the Hooked On Phonics program (which I HIGHLY recommend) and she now reads just as well as Aedan, who reads well above grade level.  She asks to do school work, and just wants to learn.  Again, a child after my own heart!  I am looking forward to officially homeschooling her this upcoming year, and seeing how far she will go.  She is SO different from her brother in this area! 
Liana's other loves are Wild Kratts, legos, soccer and baseball, church, and her Pappy Dan.  She loves all three of her grandparents, but Pappy Dan just has a special place in her heart.  She loves to wear dresses, but is not very girly in other ways.  She's the girl wearing a dress (with non-matching colorful tights) while playing Star Wars or Power Rangers with her brothers, or digging in the dirt at every baseball/softball game.  She recently has started letting me actually do something with her wild and beautiful hair, for which I am very thankful!  At one point she was wanting her hair cut like Aedan's, to which I said NO WAY.  She did that once, and I don't care for a repeat!! 
So that's my baby girl in a nut shell.  If you know us in real like, you know what a treasure she is.  If you don't, you'll just have to take my word for it!  Happy birthday, my darling girl!

How did she go from this...

To this???!!!!

Liana with her Pappy

She loves Andrew McCutcheon

Love my girl in braids!

See what I mean about the tights??