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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Wedding!

Billy and I had the privilege of attending a very special wedding today!
We were witness to Chris Utz marrying his bride Kathryn.

It was a beautiful wedding and reception.Chris and his sister, Stephanie (who was also a bridesmaid in our wedding at the age of 14) were the very first kids that I babysat for who were my favorite, beloved children. I was 12, Chris was 5, and Steph was 2 years old when I became their babysitter! So we kind of grew up with each other. I roadtripped to Disney World, Disney Land, and San Antonio with the kids and their Mom when I was around 14. One of my fav. memories is of the kids and I in a hotel in San Antonio watching OJ's white bronco being chased down L.A.'s highway, days before we were going to be in L.A. ourselves! We ran out to the balcony and shouted to their Mom in the hotel resteraunt, "They found OJ!!" Oh my, how we laughed about that one for years!

I cannot believe that Chris and Steph are no longer kids, but adults in their 20's!

And getting married now, too!!! Here are the bride and groom.



And here are the cakes.

Yes....cakes.

This is the coolest grooms cake I have EVER seen. And I have been to probably 25 plus weddings. An apple laptop computer, ipod, iphone, mouse, and cdRom ALL in fondant!

As you probably guessed, Chris' profession is with computers!

SO, SO fun!
This cake should have been entered into a contest, for sure!
Happy Wedding Day to Mr. and Mrs. Utz! :)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Date Night



Sometimes you have got to get creative about having a date night with your husband, when you don't have a regular babysitter to call upon. So last weekend, Billy picked up Olive Garden take out for the two of us after his guitar lessons and I had the kids bathed and laid out on a blanket on Vivi's bed, with boxed dinners (the containers their Six Flags meals came in) of corn dogs and popcorn...you know real healthy stuff! And Beverly Hills Chihuahua from Netflix on the portable DVD player. (Not exactly our choice of great movie entertainment!) The kids found this arrangement to be very exciting, since we always eat our dinners at the kitchen table as a family without TV.
There are just times when the rules have to go out the window and you do what you have to do to have a quiet evening. :)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

On My Mind These Days...

There are two things that have been swimming around in my head since I read them recently. One is this little poem, you could call it, from a fellow blogging buddy who blogs at http://www.barrenwoman.blogspot.com/.

Rachel writes:
Today...

I am ovulating.

And

All I can think is...

Big deal.

What does it matter...

Its not like

Anything could come of it.

Sigh.

Oh infertility,

I hate you...

Today.

I love this. Love the rawness that it conveys. The heartache always hanging around sometimes unnoticable to the rest of the world, but to those of us barren... so very profound.
No matter what the journey to motherhood has been for each one of us, or how we have seen that journey as a blessing many times over, and have even thanked our Lord time and time again for His plan for our lives...these words ring out as our banner song when all in the world is quiet and we are alone and left with only our thoughts.

And the other thing that has clung to my thoughts is a comment left on a dear friend's blog after the amazing and wonderful story of her baby's birth. A friend of hers wrote, "just beautiful. birthing babies is definitely God’s grace to women…such an incredible experience."
I read this and actually said outloud, Ouch.
It stung in a way that I am embarrassed to admit. Embarrassed because I don't want anyone in the world to think that I am not perfectly content with my babies that were not birthed from my body. It is not other children I ever desire, but the experience. And the wonderment of it all. God's grace to women...
I will leave it at that.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Is That A Snack Or A Meal?

Some of my children are perfectly content with afternoon snacks of this nature, you know sugar and carbs...what we all want at 3:00 in the afternoon, right?
But one of my children requires a little more....shall I say, protein!
Hummus w/wheat pretzel sticks, sausages, olives and a dill pickle, cheddar cheese, horseradish spread on wheat thins, and sliced plum. Oh, and a yogurt drink.

This particular child goes through growth spurts where his pants become too short overnight, he sleeps 11 hours straight, and is constantly hungry...even after eating a full course dinner. This particular child is a head taller then every single child in his class at school. This child drools over burger commercials and dreams of pizza buffets....for the salad bar.

Have you guessed?

Yep...you were right.
Lord help us when he hits puberty...

My ENT appt.

I went to my ENT yesterday. He was very nice and thorough. The first thing he asked was if I had a high salt diet because that can bring on bouts of acute vertigo. The funny thing is, the weeks leading up to my first incident last Monday, I did! Remember, I had a period that was lasting more than a month and as is typical of "that time of the month" for me, I was craving salt in a big way. Only instead of the normal 4 -6 days of cravings, I had 50 days of cravings because of the extended cycle. So, he has me cutting WAY back on my salt intake. He prescribed steroids and a nasal spray. He did a hearing check and check of my middle ear and said my ears are clear, so the pressure I feel in my head is coming from my frontal lobe/sinuses. He wants me to try the medicine and the meclizine as needed, and come back in 6 weeks or less if the vertigo comes back. So we will see! I will be taking on some lifestyle changes that are long overdue. So, I feel a bit overwhelmed by it all. But I also feel hopeful that I will be able to change some things about my eating and exercise habits and thereby get myself off many or all of the medications for various illnesses I have had to get on this month. I think these changes could help my female organs to function more properly, hopefully clear my head and body from the vertigo and headaches, and help me to kick these bouts of depression that have set in since being sick for 2 months. So I will let ya'll know how it goes!! I know I will need the encouragement along the way, for sure. :)

I plan to get back to my regular blogging program around here and stop talking about sickness so much! Of course we will have J's posts next week when we go into the hospital to get his tonsils out. But after that...we are moving forward into the spring with positive thoughts and restored hope for the future!!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Valentine's Day

Even though I was too sick to do their class parties this year, here are Isaac and Vivi signing their Valentines and delivering them!
Billy was so sweet to buy his daughter a silk rose (her favorite color, of course!) and a small box of chocolates and he bought me tulips and a big box of chocolates!! He was out of town on Valentines day, so he gave me these the day before and then sent me an email later in the week for a pedicure which I did this morning AND he is bringing home Olive Garden take out which is becoming our Valentine tradition!

The kids were spoiled with Valentines and prizes from Billy's family and balloons and chocolates from us. I made red sprinkled cranberry orange muffins and served them on Valentine plates.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Update on J's Adoption...and an AMAZING Surprise Gift!

Close As Can Be

These two continue to be the best of friends! Today, J's caseworker came for a visit. The bad news first: she has done NOTHING in the way of ruling out the birthfather. And I mean nothing. I was very frank with her about how frustrating that is to hear being that this child has been in the foster care system for 7 months and they could have either: a)found him by now and had him sign a waiver to his paternal rights or b) ruled him out as unknown and terminated his rights in court. She had nothing to say to that. So as of now, there is a court hearing at the end of May to do that and then of course "his" 45 day appeal period will then go into effect. So that puts us at a July adoption date at the earliest. Billy and I could not be more ticked off. He will be calling our attorney on Monday to see what if anything we can do to expedite this obnoxious process. *Huge Sigh*

The good news: she handed me two letters from the boys' birthmother! One to us and one to the boys. This is SO big for us because we have never had anything from the birthfamily, not a picture, not a token of Isaac's infancy, nothing. I read them and scanned them immediately for preservation. The letters will remain their private property but I wanted to share a few lines from our letter:

"To The Family That Adopted My Boys"

"...I would like to thank you for taking both of my babies and loving them as your own...I do love and miss them...I will try to keep in contact through letters and cards if that is okay with you...maybe one day God will bless us to meet personally and then I can tell you how grateful that I am."

And my favorite line in their letter said, "letting you go live with your Mommy and Family was the best thing for both of you."

All I can say is "WOW." What an amazing gift to us and them. This is especially amazing coming from children who were removed from foster care. For her to want to do that for them despite her sadness in losing them, is more than we could ever ask for. And it makes maintaining contact with her through pictures and letters all the more meaningful. I want to take her in a big hug and cry with her for the raw end she was dealt in life, for all the bad decisions that led her to this place, and for the gift of life that she gave to my sons. I want to tell her that I know if she could have the life she wanted; she would be healthy, make positive life choices, get clean, and be able to raise the boys she gave birth to. But because she can't or won't, our life is richer and more full. And that just doesn't seem fair, in so many ways it is not. However, I also know my body didn't work right because our God had a bigger plan for my children to come to me, and that plan involved loss and deep sadness for all of us. But the outcome is that I have smiling, happy, thriving sons and a daughter who are the absolute world to me. And that the path that brought us all to this place was worth it a hundred times over.

As I end this blog post (can you tell my head is not so foggy anymore?! Praise God!) I wanted to explain this picture. We put Vivi in J's bed the other night and when we came into check on them, this is what we found:


It appears as though they tried to make pallets on the floor and decided on the beanbag chair instead:

Awwwww....
We really do have the most wonderful kids!! :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

More health information

Billy's facebook status today is, "So many health issues, so little paid time off". SO true. I am having really bad vertigo again today even despite the medicine and rest. I am waiting on a referrel to an ENT to check on inner ear issues. Other than that, there is no further medical intervention scheduled for me. So I am just praying at this point for the vertigo to leave as fast as it came because it is so debilitating when it gets bad.

In other health news, we had J's ENT appt. today and they gave us the results of his sleep study. They said he has "severe obstruction sleep apnea". The ENT wants to take his adenoids and tonsils out on March 1st and admit him to the hospital directly after for 24 hour observation. I need to get back to normal so he can have his Mama with him in the hospital. Right now we are going to be trying to work out childcare for those 2 days for the other 2 kids. We have a couple options.

I am hoping if my dizziness can stay at bay long enough tomorrow, that I may be able to upload our Valentine pictures and get back to a normal blogging routine. For now I am resting still and thanking the Lord for the help we have with Aunt Vicki who goes back to Florida on Saturday. Thank you all for your sweet words of encouragement and advice. It has helped big time to keep my spirits up during this difficult time.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Today

Aunt Vicki drove me to my GYN today and while she was taking down my health history, I felt very nauseated. So they laid me down and put fans and cold compresses on me. I felt better enough after a awhile to be taken to the sonogram room. Meanwhile the GYN called my Dr. to tell her that she did not believe the vertigo was related to my female concerns and so the Dr. ordered me an MRI. The GYN gave me the results of my sonogram which came back as normal- a healthy uterine lining and ovary size. Typical. Everything always comes back normal. She is going to have me stay on the progesterone and come back for a follow up visit on March 10th. We are hoping my bleeding will stay away (as of yesterday) until then. OH- and my bloodwork from yesterday came back above normal. No sign of anemia. So the Dr. sent me straight down to radiology for my MRI. I had a bought of vertigo during that procedure and about every 3 minutes for the next 5 or so hours. The nurse called to tell me that the MRI came back healhty as far as stroke or cancer is concerned but that they detected a small benign cyst that may be what is causing the vertigo. The Dr. is supposed to call me tomorrow with more details about that, but they do not seem concerned. I am now on Meclizine and Zofran to stop the dizziness and nausea. It works sometimes. For the most part I am extremely fatigued and have a lightheadedness feeling. Aunt Vicki has been wonderful to do every thing for the kids...meals, school dropoffs and pickups, baths, dressing them, feeding the dogs, the list goes on. Meanwhile taking care of me! Thank God for the help because these past 2 days have been really rough. Thank you to all of you who have sent words of encouragement and sympathy. I am hoping I will be on the mend by the weekend as my back has been killing me from all the laying around. I just have no energy to do anything other then rest. Even a book feels too heavy for my arms. thank you for your continued support and prayers.

Monday, February 14, 2011

health update

i am writing this in bed because i know many of you are concerned about my health (and lack of blogging or responding to emails and phone calls). my health has not improved so billy's aunt vicki flew in on saturday to held me for the week as he is currently in pittsburgh until wed for business. today i had the most severe vertigo and so she drove me to the dr. who gave me a shot in my rear to stop the room from spinning. my mother in law said vertigo can come with anemia and being that i have had all the other symptoms of anemia, i believe that is what it is. basically i have had a cycle that has lasted for more than 50 days without ceasing, even with the use of progesterone. the dr. took my blood today and said if the anemia is extreme, i will have to go to the hospital for an iv. i am going tomorrow to the gyn for my tests and possible the scheduling of a D and C procedure. This scares me very much. i am also sooo sad that i had to miss my boys valentines parties. aunt vicki took up all the supplies but not being there to do it is such a huge let down as i love valentines days and parties. having aunt vicki here is a huge blessing and has helped me from spiraling down into severe sadness and self pity. at church yesterday, our pastor said "if God is willing to heal you. He will. But He also may not. And there is nothing you can do to earn or deserve it. He allows suffering even in those He loves for His purposes." I hope that I can find strength in the knowledge that God is very near to me, Jesus was acquainted with our grief and sorry and has laid upon Himself our iniquities. I know this too shall pass and then I will be back in the game of life again.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lots going on...

This will be a random post that covers lots of territory. Starting with the fact that we are iced in AGAIN. That makes five days of no school because of "inclement weather" this month alone. And the schools are only allowed 2 snow days factored into their calendars. So who knows how this will effect our spring break and/or the end of the year if TX doesn't give a waiver to the school districts. Fun times, people.
Vivi has her class Valentine party scheduled for tomorrow. This ice is supposed to melt tomorrow, so I am hoping that will not call off school. We worked on her valentines (Princess and the Frog) taped to heart ring pops. She wrote her name on all of them! I was so proud. She is giving small boxes of chocolates to her teachers (Mama didn't have it in me to get creative on such short notice), and I am bringing heart cakes/plates/napkins for the party. The teachers told me they are providing heart shaped pizzas for lunch, but then they never sent a note home telling the parents not to bring lunch or to bring Valentines.
Something tells me they are counting on another snow day, but we are prepared either way!
On a side note, but one that is causing me aggravation...we are shopping for a new bed for Vivi. She has outgrown her toddler bed big time. There would be no problem if we were moving to a twin, but for the sake that we don't have a guest room- we want to get Vivi a full size white bed for guests. That is so much easier said than done in our budget. We will of course buy a new mattress, so we don't want to spend a fortune on the headboard/frame. C.raigslist is just irritating me....people put overpriced junk on there. On top of our difficulty in finding a reasonably priced white full size bed, finding full size little girl bedding is even more difficult. I love the zebra look, but she is too young for that in a bedroom. We are in no hurry to have her grow up!! And I don't want to have to buy new curtains or redo her pastel colored polka dot name letters on the wall. So I have to find bedding that already fits with our color scheme. Not fun. Not fun at all.
And in other news and the interest of being transparent on here (can I be any other way?), I am having some health issues that I touched on in a previous post...female in nature... and the Dr. has me on progesterone but they are not taking the desired effect. So I have basically been PMSing for 2 months....this blog is a relatively female audience, right? :) Headaches, cramps, body aches, mood swings, high emotions...you name it I have it. I have an appt. to see a specialist next Tuesday but no one to keep J that day while Vivi and Isaac are in school. Billy will be out of town on business. So sadly, I think I am going to have to cancel the appt. and then next time they can get me in is March 10th. Which means another month of suffering. This whole thing has me feeling like this: Everyday. And I am having a hard time shaking the sense of gloom. These issues have poured salt on an old wound for me. I just don't know why my body is broken in this way. God keeps me needing His strength every moment. Some moments I am good and can trust in Him and other times I am just sooo sad. I know in the grand scheme of things I am blessed to be able to walk around and have no intense pain or disability as so many others suffer with. Sadly though, this has been my own cross to bear in life and for years I was able to do so with peace and contentment. These recent issues send me into worry about what the problem is and what the future holds. Please pray that the Lord would feel very near to me as I struggle. That is all I can really hope for.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

One Step Closer...

This afternoon, mediation is scheduled on J's case with CPS and the attorneys to move his case towards termination and adoption. We thought we were waiting to find out of his birthmother would show up to sign relinquishment papers, but it turns out she already did that!! She won't be coming today, but her attorney will be there to work out the details and get the paperwork ready to be submitted to the judge. We should have some kind of time frame at the end of next month as to when we will be able to go to court to finalize. We are one step closer to J becoming OURS forever!!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Our Little Superbowl Party


If you know me at all, you know I am compelled to make any event a celebration around here! And when you have multiple children, you ARE your own party!
So we put our pj's on and had a little Super Bowl celebration of our own.
We made homemade pizzas and enjoyed icecream cake shaped like a football!

We had no problem polishing off 2 pizzas! Then we put J in Isaac's flag football jersey and took some cute photos of him in all his Superbowl glory! We anticipate that J will be our athlete.
Daddy tackled him as he ran by with the ball.
He even has his offensive stance ready to go!



It cracks us up, because Billy and I are not into sports of any kind. So Isaac has not been conditioned to care about sports either. We have tried basketball, flag football, and karate and each time he played around and socialized more then focusing on any kind of drills. He is more the artsy, performing type which was evident when he couldn't have cared less about the game last night until the halftime show. Then he danced to the performers the entire time, mimicking their every move!We laughed so hard that our youngest may grow up to be Deion S.anders and our oldest will most certainly be the next U.sher!!

Isaac's Homecoming Celebration

Every year the kids get to choose the resteraunt for their special day. We celebrate Isaac's homecoming and Vivi's finalization day. We will likely make J's special day July 28th the day he came home, too. So...much to Billy's joy Isaac chose Pei Wei!


We gave him the traditional cookie cake and a small gift.





I always give him his favorite candy bar.

All the kids are BIG fans of chicken Lo Mein.

He is getting to be such a big boy.
We can't believe 5 years have passed since he came home!!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Homecoming

5 years ago today, a toddler boy much smaller than his age, entered our home...made us parents, and changed us forever.

Here is the first letter I wrote to him in February 2006.

"We got the call about you on a Wednesday and we had to wait 5 days for you to come. The voice on the other end of the phone said, “We want to know if you would be willing to foster to adopt a 15 month old African American boy.” And boy were we! We began to prepare your room and I shopped and bought you some clothes and pajamas, a toothbrush, some toys. You came to us on Monday afternoon. When I opened the door, you looked so scared in the arms of your CPS caseworker, Anne. She had taken you to the doctor that day and discovered that you were severely malnourished. The doctor labeled your condition “Failure to Thrive”. But they felt it was for social and emotional reasons…there is no way to know the many ways you were neglected in your previous foster home. You were wet all over and frightened when she left an hour later. I cleaned you up and changed you into fresh clothes. Then I gave you a bottle of PediaSure…the drink you will take 3 times a day for the next several months to fatten you up. We rocked and I sang to you as you sucked that bottle down. And I cried. I cried for you and all you had been through and I cried for me that I wasn’t there to protect you for your first 15 months and 28 days of life. And in those few moments though I hadn’t carried you in my body, or nursed you, or loved you in infancy. And though I missed your first birthday and Christmas and Easter….in those moments you became my son."
Happy Homecoming Day, Isaac.
You were desperately wanted, are deeply loved, and will be cherished for a lifetime.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Infant Adoption Update

Today, our adoption agency director emailed a really nice encouraging update for those of us waiting. She said that they have "quite a few" women who desire to make an adoption plan and are due between March and August. She said many of them will be viewing profiles soon! This is so exciting. We mailed 5 new letters/picture profiles to them this week, so that they will have J in there for potential birthmoms to see that we are a family of five. We know this holds us back in the selection process as we are likely always shown with couples who do not have any children. But we also know that it is the Lord's will which child is meant to be ours. We would never be disgruntled about a couple becoming parents for the first time, even if it means we are passed up for that to happen! But I do find myself wondering, "Where could our baby be?"
Time will tell...

Snow Pics!

It came down in 4 inches overnight.
It is breathtaking. I went outside for almost an hour to take pictures, and had fun playing with getting them nice looking after I uploaded them. There was hardly any wind and beautifully quiet and soft. Vivi was the only one willing to brave the cold with me. :)


We couldn't do much with it but run and kick a big red ball.
It is powdery and soft and flaky, but so thick and deep that walking in it is a lot of fun!

The view from our alley.


From our front yard.
The sidewalk coming up to our house has disappeared!

Down our street.

Lucy is practically a snow dog. She LOVES it. Now, this is a Texas snow day I can get on board with!
I contained some in the freezer and will be attempting to make snow ice cream later today.
I am ready to go out again, but our gloves are still needing to dry out. I want to soak up every moment because come July I will miss this day.