Tuesday, February 18, 2014

IOU... Pics

Until I figure out how to get the darned photos off my Google + and into this blog, you'll have to be patient and bear with  me. :)

In the meantime, here's some new developments.

Geri's transplanted cornea recently started to reject. We could see a haze developing over it and tell that her vision was getting worse. Of course, we immediately called the cornea specilist to get an appointment. Then I got sick (see below) and we had to push the appointment but we finally saw him. He agrees that there is a haze forming. She is being given steroid eye drops to try to reduce the haze and stop the rejection. If that doesn't do enough, she will be given a shot of steriods in her eye, under anesthesia of course. If THAT doesn't work, we can opt for another transplant. We'll make that decision if and when we get there. Please pray that God works his wonders through the steroids. Surgery is just not fun.

I don't know if I mentioned my medical garbage previously... but I have a condition called POTS. Short version... my nervous system flubs it's lines and my pulse and blood pressure go wonky, leading to fatigue and nearly passing out. I also have a gluten intolerance. Fun stuff. Anyway, I'm on a drug for the POTS that works great, but affects gut motility and digestion. A recent gluten exposure combined with the new medicine to land me in the hospital for a partial bowel obstruction. I nearly ended up going to surgery and losing part of my small intestine, but it resolved on its own. God is good. I'm doing better now, but being super careful about gluten exposures. I'm not giving up my medication, at least not at this time.

Geri's verbal development continues to be awesome. She amazes me daily with the stuff she says. The other day, when I dropped her off at school, I stopped to let her teacher know I'd be picking her up from school early for a doctor appointment. She said "Oh, that's today? Geri told me about it." I don't remember ever telling Geri directly that she had an appointment coming up, but I know we discussed it in front of her. She heard me talking about it and then went to school and told her teacher "I go to the eye doctor in Denver." I nearly cried when I heard that one. On a related note, I guess I now need to be careful what I say in front of her...

Friday, January 10, 2014

Words, Words, Words

Geri has made huge advances in speech lately. Here's some of my favorites:
"No, Papa, turn on the BIG light!" (Dad turned on a table lamp instead of the overhead light)
"I'm a super hippo!"
"Fashionista!" (Yelled with joy when saying goodbye at school)
"You had an accident at school?" "Yeah" "What happened?" "I was bouncing on the ball." "You didn't want to stop to go potty?" "Yeah. I wanted to bounce." (My part is in italics.)
"Look at me!! Hey Mom, look at me!!!"
"I want flute loops!" (Flute Loops... the breakfast of champions!)
"I did it!!!" 

There's about a million of these little gems. It's so cool that she can tell me what she wants. The other night I asked her if she wanted egg and cheese on her gyuvech and she requested cheese, no egg. She'll finish a small bowl of cereal and say "Can I have some more?" or she'll finish a bowl and say "I'm full!" When she stubs a toe she can tell us, between tears, what happened. If her belly hurts, she can say so. When she has to go potty, she can let us know!!!

But the best part is seeing her personality more clearly. Seeing her intelligence more starkly. Having her tell me what happened at school, what she wants to do, who she wants to see... She's more grown up when she's using her words.

And the most bestest part of all is hearing "I love you" or "Obecham te" in her little voice. Last night Daddy wasn't home at bedtime and she was crying and she said "I miss Papa!" and I just was blown away. Sometimes, she'll sit near me and just say "Mom! Mom! Mom!" over and over. It's magical.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Verbal Progress

Geri's speech therapist has had us working a lot on "what?" questions. What does a dog say? What does a cow give us? What do we do with a toothbrush?

She's getting really good at them. In fact, we had a great conversation tonight. We were cuddling at bed time and i asked her a couple of questions we have practiced.

"Geri, " I said, "What does a bird build?"
"A bird builds a nest," she answered.
"What comes after 3?"
"After 3 comes 4, " she replied. I decided to try a brand new question to see what she would say.
"Geri," I asked, "What comes after 4?"
"5 then 6," she told me.

Wow. Just wow. We've never practiced that question. We had to practice the "what comes after 3?" question several times before she could answer it reliably. But, without coaching, she extrapolated the answer to the first question out, not just one step but two steps forward!

It's been fun watching how her mind works. When we started on the questions about birds, it was a hoot. There was an answer her therapist wanted (a bird builds a nest) but at first we got something pretty cute. The first time I asked her what a bird builds, she immediately said "A house." Well sure, I thought. We build houses, I guess she would assume birds do too. And she's not entirely wrong. A human habitat is a house, a bird habitat is a nest. I just smiled and said "A bird builds a nest." The next time I asked her what a bird builds, she answered "A bird house."  Again, it hurt my heart to correct her. In a way, she was right. And in a way, her answer was far more clever than the stock answer.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

How's THAT Work?

When we started the adoption process, we often wondered how this would look from day to day. What is breakfast gonna be like? (Noisy.) Will we still take vacations? (Yes!!) What happens if someone gets sick?

Man, we are experts in illness. Especially lately.

I'm a believer that there is NOTHING worse than both parents getting sick. When the kids are all feeling just fine and both of the adults are dragging, it's a miserable time to be in our home. Lots of movies are watched, that's for sure.

Recently, I went and got sick. Well, I've been sick for a good long while really. For about 3 years now, I've been having recurring fatigue and muscle weakness episodes that are nothing short of debilitating. Then, in June, I started having awful stomach pains that quickly progressed to the point of me being bedridden. In early June I was hospitalized for 6 days. 6. Whole. Days.

So what did that look like? Well, when I was in the hospital, Hubby became something of a single dad. Another family from church stepped up HUGE and took the girls every day (big brother was on visitation with his bio-dad's family) so Papa could go to work. When someone's in the hospital, you suddenly feel like you need money. When Papa came home from work he would grab up the girls and some dinner prepared for us by some of the other ladies from our church, then come to the hospital and eat with me. Well, when they were letting me eat. They kept putting me on "Nothing By Mouth" orders. It was, truly, feast or famine!

The gulag in which I spent 6 days, days I can't get back.
After dinner together, Papa would take the girls home and put them to bed, then put in a bit of overtime to make up hours and we would talk on the phone for a while. Rinse, repeat.

When I was released from the hospital, I had a brief period of feeling better and then it all tanked again. At that point, my fantastic mother-in-law made an 8-hour drive to stay with us for over 2 weeks. Which was good, because about a week into her visit, my gall bladder had to be removed.

The bottom line is, we made it. Lots of wonderful people rallied around us and carried us through. Lots of adoption experts talk about setting up your support network. They are righter than right. At some point, you'll need help. At some point, you'll be able to be a help to someone else. But if there's one thing I can promise you, you'll hit a point where you need more hands than you have. Let people bless you with their help and just tell yourself "Today you, tomorrow me."

Sunday, August 18, 2013

It's been one week...

...Since Geri started Kindergarten!! Wow, I am still not able to process that information.

I remember a time, about one year ago, that I would have been pleased as punch to have her starting preschool about now. When she first came home, she struggled with so many things. She was so far behind. She couldn't chew or eat solid foods. She couldn't walk or talk. She was so volatile, emotionally unstable. There was this laundry list of difficulties.

We weren't willing to separate her from us for school or daycare or anything of the sort, a decision I'm glad now that we made. She needed that time with us, that attachment building. (I don't say this as a slam on other adoptive parents who made a different decision or took a different approach, btw. This is what she needed, what worked for us, so I'm just glad we trusted our instincts and did it.) When it came time to broach the issue of separation, it was hard for her at first. But the winding road of resources, support, situation, etc that God led us through made it so that each step built a foundation for the next. It all came out ok because of the way it happened. I can't imagine it having worked any other way. Looking back, though, I can understand why I didn't see this way ahead at the time.

It's amazing to look back at where we have been, where we set our expectations at the time, and where we are now. Kindergarten. She's in kindergarten, at a relatively appropriate chronological age. Her developmental age continues to catch up. The miracle continues to unfold, and we are so blessed to be front and center for it.

Friday, July 26, 2013


K, so I've been super not well lately. I didn't go into it as things were happening, but it's been two months of pain and on Monday I get my gallbladder out. Oddly enough, I've never had a surgery and not been totally stoked. This is the third surgical procedure of my life. First was laser vision correction. I was excited. Second was a boob job (Yeah they're mine, I paid for them) and I was pretty excited about that too. Now I'm getting my gallbladder out and two months of unending abdominal pain have me acting like I'm winning the lottery. Seriously, you'd think I was going on some crazy cool vacay or something but I'm really just going to get part of my digestive system removed.

It's funny how normal certain things can start to look. I'm not sure what it's like in other families, but our family has seen too many trips under the knife to be shaken up anymore. I'm all like "Kids, mom's having surgery on Monday," and they're all like "Yeah, sure, whatever... can I watch a movie?" We've watched a lot of movies lately, because it's about the only activity I can handle.

But they sure did love riding on my lap when I had to use a power scooter at Walmart because walking is too painful.

Anyway, If you are so inclined I would greatly appreciate your prayers. I am never maxed out in that department, more is certainly merrier.

In the meantime, thanks for sharing life with us. It's weird to be the patient instead of the nurse for once, but this is how life goes, even when you add other factors (adoption, disability, blended family, etc) to the mix. Stuff still happens, things fall down, things break, life gets taken apart and put back together again, and you learn to be resilient as a family unit. And somehow, it all becomes more tolerable when you add to the craziness because everyone is able to pour their love into the situation and love is what makes this life survivable.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Wow. I just recently read this article and I'm blown away...


Mayor Bloomberg has outlawed food donations to homeless shelters because their fat, salt, sugar, etc. content can't be monitored.

I'm involved in trying to combat food insufficiency here in Colorado Springs. I don't think I've mentioned it on my blog before, but I run a food pantry at our church and have been doing so for about 8 months now. Every week, we distribute to about 100 people. We're on a shoestring budget, and shopping for our shelves has sure put low-income diets in a different light.

There is no question, no doubt, in my mind that food quality has become a divide in our nation, and there are some serious "haves" and "have nots." A person living on minimum wage in Colorado Springs has about $41 per week to spend on groceries, per working adult. Imagine a single mom with three kids, trying to feed everyone on $41 each week. She can apply for SNAP (food stamps) and that's a pretty decent supplement, to be sure. For a family of 4 the max amount of monthly benefits is about $670. Sounds do-able... but in El Paso county 48% of the people who are food insufficient are not eligible for SNAP.

And that's not even remotely considering the effects of generational poverty or food availability. Many people in urban areas live in what have been called "food deserts", where there is no actual grocery store and the only close sources for food are convenience stores, which sell extremely limited amounts of produce, meats, and other raw materials for healthy diets. The only options are massively overpriced cans of ravioli, soup, tuna, etc. Markups are outrageous, food quality is poor, and unhealthy eating becomes a way of life. Fast forward a generation or two, and you have kids who have never developed a taste for fresh foods because all they know is mac and cheese and ramen.

Trust me, I am all for changing these diets. We're blessed to be receiving a weekly donation of fresh produce from Sprouts Marketplace, and our customers are loving it. I want them to have access to healthy foods, things that will benefit their bodies. I am torn, at times, between needing to stretch our meager budget and wishing for something better for our customers and their families. I truly am. But I know that you can sacrifice a lot on the alter of perfection. I sometimes have to settle for full bellies and empty calories in the battle against hunger. It's a trade-off I accept when I must, trying to buck it every chance I get.

However, this is a different population of the food insufficient. The homeless are a whole separate ball of wax.

People who are homeless are unable to cook for themselves. Making a fire calls unwanted police attention. They have nowhere to store food safely, and must carry everything with them. Canned foods are far too heavy. Soft fruits and vegetables are out in the heat all day, banged around in a backpack and damaged. Things get stolen while you are sleeping, or someone might jump you for your stuff at any time. They rely largely on public feedings for their diet because nothing else works for them. When we started the food pantry, I actually tried to bring the homeless in. We put up fliers in the soup kitchens and the parks. No one came. Finally, I got some feedback through a friend who works with the folks on the street. They were not going to come. Food pantries were "not for us."

So public feedings have a large responsibility, one that doesn't exist for food pantries on the same level. We are not a person's sole source of nutrition.

Public feedings have a duty to provide the best food they can, that's for sure. But their main duty is to provide AS MUCH food as they can. There has to be a balance between the two. Now, if the public feedings in New York City are throwing away food at the end of the day because, gosh and golly, everyone is just too stuffed to eat another bite, then this policy perhaps begins to make some modicum of sense. But if even one person was turned away, or didn't get seconds, or could have walked out with a bagel stuffed in their pocket and had something to munch on the next morning or later that night and they didn't because of this law, then that's shameful.