Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Miracles From Heaven

There is a Living God. He grants us miracles. I got three today and a little one last Saturday. One was super huge. One was huge. One was big, and may turn out to be huge.

I never laid eyes on anything from Homeland security concerning Apple's Certificate of Citizenship. I only found out this year that she wasn't documented as a citizen with Social Security. I went to Homeland Security and they requested a copy of her file and saw that it had been sent, returned, sent again certified mail and signed for. I called the new owners of my old home and they didn't remember ever seeing it, much less signing for it. It's been heavy on my mind. It's more paperwork to get another one and possibly a fee of $400 unless I fill out another form that would approve waiving the fee.

Last Sunday morning I was walking around the block alone and praying. I felt the Holy Spirit comfort and reassure me. I followed His instructions and took my family to church for the last hour. We haven't been in months and months. It was hard, but I knew it was right. Being out with my oldest is hard right now; her behavior is unpredictable.

Suddenly, just a few moments ago, at 1:30am I walked into my office and picked up and large brown envelope at the base of my desk chair. Right at the base of my chair where I've been sitting off and on most of the past three days. I hadn't seen it there before. I've been vigorously sorting and catching up on mail for the past three days. It wasn't there before. I picked it up. I turned it over. I saw that it was from Homeland security. My old address had been scribbled over. My new address was written in. I opened it. It's Apple's Certificate of Citizenship!

Also today I received a call from the ASD clinic in the Bay Area. We got an appointment for a full day evaluation for THIS FRIDAY! Or, she said, we can wait until August. We cannot wait until August. We are under some severe deadlines and behavior issues that need addressing ASAP. My Firefighter was able to get the day off to help even though his department is stretched thin and mandatory over time is being enforced. We will leave Thursday for two appointments at two medical centers three hours north of us then afterward drive to the South Bay, another 2+ hours in the car, stay the night in a hotel (expensive!), and make this Friday's appointment, which is from 9am to 3pm.

Lastly, something else turned up in the pile of paperwork on my desk. I had completely forgotten that Jie Jie was evaluated by Kaiser in July of 2013 exactly one month to the day of Apple being placed in my arms in China. That's about 2.5 weeks after we moved. The top of the evaluation said it wasn't in her file and could only be obtained by written permission from the psychologist who administered the evaluation. This means that it wasn't in the file that was sent to our regional center and I would never have known if I hadn't have found this today. The doctor's name isn't on our Kaiser contact drop-down list on their message website patients use.

I know I didn't get these miracles because I went to church for one hour. I received this miracles because I have faith. It was renewed this week when I watched the movie Miracles from Heaven because I saw myself in that mom as her faith faltered for a time along her hard journey. I examined my own faith and realized it hadn't faltered but that I hadn't been putting energy into it and I remembered a lesson from long ago called Faith Takes Energy.

Last Saturday, my visiting teacher, a sister from my church ward, showed up with a pink miniature rose plant for me and a Happy Father's Day. I was definitely wearing my "dad hat" as I tackled my yard with my weed whacker. The little miracle was that little pink rose bush in a little pot. I'd been missing the roses I'd left behind at my old house. The roses in my current neighborhood were beautiful this year. I didn't know roses grew so well here. I'd moved my roses from my apartment to my house when I bought my first house, but didn't bring them down here to this house and I've missed them, mostly because people had given them to me and I've been missing those people a lot lately, but also their delicate beauty.

God is with me. He has my back. He knew I needed help and He provided me with what I needed most. I am so grateful and humbled.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

A Day In Our Life

What's a day like for us? Today was special because we didn't have to go anywhere. We didn't even go to church. We slept in a bit past 9am and by the time the girls got moving (always hard when we are out of our weekday routine and I change things, like no morning showers because we're going to swim) it was 11am or so. Sissy was already out of kilter, but she ceased to function at the brunch table and spent the rest of the day in what we call the art room. She refused to eat for the rest of the day or speak or cooperate. This is typical for her at least one or two days per week.

After a little bit of yard work, which meant I put weed killer on everything I could and the middle two girls raked one corner of the yard, the three younger girls and I went swimming in our pool. It was my 3rd day of swimming and the girls' second.

It was super hot today so we couldn't stay out more than an hour or we'd all burn, so in we came at 1:40pm.

My Firefighter arrived and he and I put together a very large kennel for some of my cats who have forgotten their indoor manners. I can't blame them at all given what they've had to live through because of my girls. I know that sounds awful, but it's true.

After My Firefighter left, I took down the old smaller kennels and cleaned like crazy around the area. It's nearly impossible to clean my current floor, which is aggregate, but with a 6.5 horse power shopvac and a huge bucket of bleach water that I poured into the floor and my scrubbing brush, I hope to have made a difference. The aggregate is coming out some time this summer and then I'll have a cleanable floor!!! Yay!!!

Meanwhile, Blossom kept herself glued to her school desk for some reason, singing her songs with her CD player nearby and pouring over a book on our solar system. She was happy to be there. She's trying like crazy to understand it so she's memorizing facts in her efforts, but it's a bit of an obsession with her right now and her questions are never-ending.

Jie Jie needed help with her bath and it's now official, she cannot do this unattended any more. Despite my best efforts, she still, at 12, cannot figure out how to blend the hot and cold water and when I came in, she was balanced on the sides of the tub to keep her feet out of the very hot water she'd filled the tub with (remember, it's about 100 degrees outside, too)! It's hard to say if this in a comprehension issue or memory issue or both, but I cannot risk her burning herself or falling, so no more working the water by herself.

Jie Jie also chose to stay at her desk for the rest of the day. She drew and colored a beautiful picture.

I still worry when the girls stay at their desks for so long. I'd have thought they'd get enough of that during the week, but I supposed they just don't come up with a lot of ideas of their own so they stick to their routine even when they don't have to, and it's way too hot to play outside.

Apple puttered around. She played with her dolls and then her puzzles. She helped me with the kennel assembly by holding the bungees and then with the taking down of the old kennels. She loves to help and insists of helping carry in groceries so we safe the light ones for her. She's doing very well and is really getting the concept of time. She's said, "I went swimming last year!" and she asks, "Are we having daycare tomorrow?" I need to teach her the Days of the Week and start working on telling time. She's ready. She's also showing signs of reading readiness. I love that she's got a normal perception of time and of growing up and getting older.

Sissy refused dinner so she went to bed around 7:30pm. The others enjoyed their dinner and went to bed at 8:20pm.

I'm taking a break and will now close this laptop and get back to cleaning and preparing for tomorrow! My goal is to do a tiny amount of yard work each morning before the girls wake up and daycare babies arrive, while it's still cool.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Celebrating Four Smooth Days in a Row

It helped tremendously that we were home for three straight days over the long weekend. For the moment, our appointment schedule has eased up a bit. We still have our normal speech, OT and PT, but no extras like tons of evaluations, urine or blood tests, pharmacy runs, eye exams, and other *extras* that became our norm since last November and keeps persisting.

I also had a few brief moments today to feel *normal* again. I shopped at Trader Joe's, something I used to do a few times a week when I lived in my former town and could walk there in only 3 short blocks. Then, on the way home, I found a classical music station on the radio. I haven't heard classical music in so long, I took a nice deep breath, relaxed into it and turned up the volume.

Monday, May 30, 2016

A New Development

People consistently think that Blossom is the oldest sister now. She's more out-going socially and is more aware of what is going on around her.

Apple is often perceived as being younger than she is because she's still pretty short compared to her American peers and her expressive language still behind for her age, and she walks with a bit of waddle because of her feet and hips, but once people get to know her, they soon realize she's actually quite mature for her age, out-going and charming. She's very healthy socially and makes little friends easily. She can be a leader and a follower and tends to make appropriate decisions about which is appropriate for the situation.

Blossom and Apple do butt heads constantly now. Blossom pits herself against her little sister all the time. Apple usually comes out on top in verbal sparring. Blossom tries to treat Apple like I treat the three big girls and can't understand that I need to teach an intellectually healthy 4 yr. old in a different way than I teach three much, much older girls with I.D. All three older girls are often stunned when Apple can figure things out that they cannot. Our geneticist warned me about this and wished me luck. By the time she's 6, I'm sure Apple will be developmentally and intellectually ahead of her sisters.

Keeping the two little daycare kids that I still have has been good for Apple. Even though they are younger that she is, the little girl is very advanced verbally so they are on the same level in this area, though my daycare child will pass Apple up verbally in the next 3-6 months. Of course, Apple is much more mature over all.

Balancing everyone's strengths and weaknesses, abilities and disabilities, and allowing the younger ones to exceed the older ones requires very delicate parenting.

The Hardest Thing About It All

The amount of repetition.

The amount I have to repeat to them.

The amount they repeat to me.

And how absolute LITTLE they are able to retain and truly learn. So little progress is made for an absolutely tremendous amount of effort spent. It is so discouraging. By the time they finally do seem to reach a new level, the relief out-weighs the joy.

My oldest child has only about 6 different conversations. They vary a little now and then, but it's the same, day in, day out.

My second oldest child has about 12 different conversations.

My second to youngest tries to converse, but with expressive and receptive issues that are HUGE, she often can't complete what she starts verbally or an invented word pops out that makes it impossible to understand what she's getting at.

None of my three older girls can relate an experience back to me in a logical way. "How was your activity?" I asked after picking them up from youth night at church. "What did you do?" Thus begins a comedy routine (only it's not funny) of them trying to tell what happened. The other night it went just like this...

"I liked it."

me: "What did you like?"

"The movie."

me: "What was it about?"

"Those Indian things."

me: "What?"

"You know, those things you showed us before."

me: "Can you describe it?"

"Indian people things. Those things they live."

me: "Native Americans or people from India?"

"Not from India, from old times."

me: "Teepee?"

"Yes, tee hee."

me: "Teepee."

"Tee Hee."

me: "Tee Pee, with a p."

"Tee PEE."

me: "What about the teepee?"

"The other one knocked the door."

me: "What other one?"

"The other one."

me: "There were two teepees?"

"Yes. No, the Noah thing."

me: "The ark?"

"Yes, the art."

me: "arK"

"ART."

me: "arK, with a K."

"ArK."


What it seems happened after listening to two of the girls describe the video this way but each describing a different scene, and from what I saw at the end of the video, is this...

The video took place at church girls' camp. The girls set up teepees to sleep in. Some girls followed the instructions and some didn't. It began to rain and the teepees that weren't set up right began to leak, sag and collapse. Some girls ran to other teepees and asked to share and some girls (the other ones) ran to alert the leaders whose cabin looked like Noah's Ark, hence they had to "knock the door" or, in proper grammar, knock on the door.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Autism

For quite some time now I've suspected that Sissy was autistic. I even mentioned it in a blog post last November. However, I didn't know much about autism and assumed that because she liked going to church and attending the youth group activities that she must not be autistic because I mistakenly thought that people with autism didn't like to be around people, even though she didn't function normally in the group. Then, after being at one of our specialist's appointments, he asked her to return to the waiting room, turned to me and said, "She's not made any progress at all in 6 months, I'm going to consult with our autism specialist."

I received an evaluation in the mail to fill out about Sissy's behavior traits and she was positive for everything except two traits. We've now been referred to Kaiser's Autism Spectrum Disorder Clinic three hours away in San Jose so we can get a definite diagnosis. I also spoke with our pediatrician about autism since her son is severely autistic and she explained to me that autism is a developmental disorder, not a mental health disorder. I knew it wasn't a mental health disorder, but I didn't know it was considered a developmental disorder.

Here is a list I found online from the National Institute of Health that describes some of the characteristics of signs and symptoms of autism and an explanation of the two categories of behaviors, Sissy's behaviors involve the Social Communication/Interaction type:

Not all people with ASD will show all of these behaviors, but most will show several. There are two main types of behaviors: “restricted / repetitive behaviors” and “social communication / interaction behaviors.”

1. Getting upset by a slight change in a routine or being placed in a new or overly stimulating setting

2. Making little or inconsistent eye contact

3. Having a tendency to look at and listen to other people less often

4. Rarely sharing enjoyment of objects or activities by pointing or showing things to others

5. Responding in an unusual way when others show anger, distress, or affection

6. Failing to, or being slow to, respond to someone calling their name or other verbal attempts to gain attention

7. Having difficulties with the back and forth of conversations

8. Often talking at length about a favorite subject without noticing that others are not interested or without giving others a chance to respond

9. Repeating words or phrases that they hear, a behavior called echolalia

10. Using words that seem odd, out of place, or have a special meaning known only to those familiar with that person’s way of communicating

11. Having facial expressions, movements, and gestures that do not match what is being said

12. Having an unusual tone of voice that may sound sing-song or flat and robot-like

13. Having trouble understanding another person’s point of view or being unable to predict or understand other people’s actions.


Sissy strongly exhibits ALL except #8, which she exhibits, but just a little. What's not listed here, but is also very telling, is how Sissy DOES respond/behave.

Looking at this list, anyone in the adoption community who attended classes at their agency or read the adoption books will know that many of these symptoms are on the same list as that of children who have been raised in orphanages. The difference is that healthy kids start to catch up, or at least learn enough to be able to safely function, even if they never quite reach what we'd consider normal, and Sissy hasn't been able to do that.

I'm so relieved and glad that we are finally finding the right answers to help her.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Miracle Cancelled, A New Diagnosis

It was too good to be true. Yes, Apple's skull surgery has been postponed, but a hip x-ray taken last week has revealed that Apple has bi-lateral hip dysplasia. It should have been caught by the doctors in China at her birth, by the medical exam in Guangzhou, by our Kaiser pediatrician and by the orthopedic specialist at Shriner's, but no, not one of them found it despite their years of medical school and experience. I did, but I thought it was something else, and even now, that something else could be part of the problem, but at least my concerns made the neurologist at last week's clinic visit order a hip x-ray.

I'm not taking the news well. I'd rather have the skull surgery because once it's done, it's over and the recovery is a few weeks and it's fixed. With hips, we're likely looking at spica casts and surgeries followed by more surgeries throughout her lifetime and pain and arthritis.

To make matters worse, Kaiser doesn't have a specialist in our area. We have to travel three hours - yet again - each way.

On top of this, Jie Jie has been having hygiene issues that are driving me nuts! She just doesn't see any value in keeping herself clean. Bathing, brushing teeth, washing hands and face. She'd never do it unless I stand over her. She even pretends to do it, lies about having done it, and says she doesn't know why she doesn't do it. It's maddening!

And on top of that, Sissy's issues are escalating. Today was seriously hard! Specialists are finally mentioning the possibility of autism. I suspected something like that from the beginning, but last November I actually began researching it more thoroughly and believe it would be an accurate diagnosis. Hopefully, I'll find out soon and be able to get the right services lined up.

Blossom is doing well, thankfully. She seems to be coming out of the most hormonal time of puberty and calming down and actually maturing more emotionally.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Baby Toad Migration

Rain means toads and frogs and when they grow out of the tadpole stage, they leave the ponds. Thousands of tiny toads appeared everywhere in just one day, crossing roads, hanging out by my back door to eat all the bugs, filling my swimming pool. I had 200 or so in my pool the first day. I got them all out and released them in a safe place then built and exit ramp for them so they could get back out and continue on their way. The next day I removed about 50 and after that just a few per day. I'm happy to say none died in my pool. Each toad will eat tons of mosquitos and we need that, so the more toads the better.

Friday, May 20, 2016

April 2016 Round-up

I've been fostering two little kittens for a couple months. I got them when they were 2 weeks old and they just left three days ago to get spayed and neutered and to been on "display" at the program's adoption site, which is the biggest and best that I've ever seen. While they were being bottle-fed, they came everywhere with me, even to the girl's gymnastics place.


Sissy passed the first level of gymnastics and received a ribbon. The other two big girls began at a higher level and will pass the skills sheet soon and get their first ribbons, too.


This is the trailer I fell off of last month. I'm still in pain, but not all the time now. It sure doesn't look like it's far from the top to the ground. This picture was taken about 15 minutes after the fall when I started feeling strange but still didn't realize how badly I was hurt.


My Firefighter and I went to a wedding and had a good time. It was also fun going shopping with My Firefighter and picking out his new duds. If you've read my blog from the beginning you'll know I design children's clothing, but I also really love men's fashion, too.

March 2016 Round-up

March 28 was Jie Jie's Family Day. It's been five years now that she's been home. Seems like the blink of an eye and just yesterday I was on my way to China to adopt her.

We haven't been to the park much because Apple just wasn't able to safely get around for a long time and there wasn't much she could do because of her little hands that can't grip. Now, however, she's learned to compensate for her hands and she doesn't fall down very often any more so she's loving the park. She was very scared of the swing for a long time, but slowly got used to it and now loves it. She's proud that she can swing now, too, and not be scared.

At the beginning of March, we travelled up past Sacramento into the mountains to visit My Firefighter's family. It started to snow and after barely an hour of huge flakes falling, we scrambled like crazy to leave his sister's place up in the mountains and get back to our hotel at a lower elevation since I don't have snow chains for my van.

Easter was low-key. The girls enjoyed it and were happy.

Awesome Most Miraculous News!


We spent the day before yesterday in the Bay Area. Apple had her craniofacial clinic day. That's when we sit in a room and 11 specialists take turns coming in, one after another, then, at the end of the day after we leave, they meet and discuss each child and make a cohesive plan for their care.

Our great news is that Apple does NOT need frontal orbital advancement surgery at this time and probably not until she is 16 years old or so, if at all! This surgery would remove her skull from the top half of her eye sockets and her entire forehead, remodel it, then reattach it. There are risks. The entire frontal lobe of her brain would be exposed during the surgery, but still covered by the dura mater. Unless they nick it or tear it by accident. There's always the risk of infection, which we've experienced before with MRSA. And, the part I was really worried about, anesthesia emergence complications and allergy reactions, things we've also experienced.

I cried, I was so happy and relieved.

Afterward, we headed into San Francisco to the Academy of Science. When we lived in the Bay Area, we went to the Academy frequently. It was neat watching Apple see it for the first time. We saw the new planetarium show, narrated by George Takei, which was very well done. We made a super quick stop at Ocean Beach, an even quicker stop at IKEA to look at how they design their kitchen cabinets, ate dinner, then headed back home.




We left in the morning at 6am and arrived home just after midnight. It's a long haul, but with the good news about Apple not needing that surgery, I can't say I minded it this time.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Splat

I took a fall. I went all unconscious for a tiny bit. I'm very sore, but I'm okay.

I've been doing a TON on yard work. We've had several dead trees cut down, most by My Firefighter, but the power company took down two dead pine trees that were a hundred feet tall near several power lines under the condition that they'd leave the wood instead of remove it, meaning, I'd do the removal. During the past three weeks, I borrowed my neighbor's trailer and loaded it twice with the help of my girls and then he hauled it to the green waste dump. It's grueling, exhausting work! Last Thursday and Friday, I had the trailer again and My Firefighter was able to come help. We were tired after the first day, so headed into Friday already tired. After the trailer was nearly full, with three more newly fallen trees on top of all the pine, I climbed up to jump on the stack to mash it down. I reached for a branch to pull it into a better position and it broke. I lost my balance and over the side I went - about a 6 or 7 foot fall.

I landed on my right side with my right arm under my ribs, but I didn't hit my head. My own arm gave me a "Heimlich Maneuver" and knocked the wind out of me. The last thing I remember is being in the air a really long time then not having any breath at all and trying to tell My Firefighter that I fell, but I couldn't get the words out.

The next thing I know, I'm waking up from what felt like a refreshing sleep and feeling quite fine. However, the look on My Firefighter's face wasn't fine. He'd called 911 because I lost consciousness so fast and did something with my arms that looked like posturing to him, a sign of brain trauma and he wasn't sure if I'd start having a seizure or something next. When I came to, though, he cancelled the call. I said I felt fine, but as I started moving around and over the next 20 minutes or so, I realized I was injured and felt strange. My arm was bruised up and my back wrenched and ribs very, very sore.

I didn't realize that falling from 6-7 feet could do that much damage. After all, it's just a little over one of my own body lengths. Now, my neck hurts, too. It started seizing up yesterday and today I have a major headache. I know I didn't hit my head or neck, it's just my body reacting to the jolt of a sudden stop against the hard ground and branches I landed on.

We don't know why I passed out so quickly other than the fact that I have very low blood pressure naturally so an abrupt change in blood pressure from the impact with a loss of air from knocking the wind out of myself so completely can cause psychogenic shock.

We stayed at My Firefigher's house Friday night and all day yesterday so he could watch me for signs of further injury and help with the girls. I've laid around today, feeling pretty miserable. Tomorrow, I hope to start feeling better.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Another Diagnosis

I've started this post many times, deleted some, then all of it. There's no easy way to do it. On top of all her physical special needs, Jie Jie has an ENTIRE PAGE of genetic "changes." This is extremely rare, nearly unheard of.

A little about genetics from KidsHealth.org...
"A person can have changes (or mutations) in a gene that can cause many issues for them. Sometimes changes cause little differences, like hair color. Other changes in genes can cause health problems.

Mutations in a gene usually end up causing that particular gene copy to not do its job the way it normally should. Since we have two copies of every gene, typically there's still a "normal" working copy of the gene. In these cases, usually nothing out of the ordinary happens since the body can still do the jobs it needs to do. This is an example of an autosomal recessive trait.

For someone to have a recessive disease or characteristic, the person must have a gene mutation in both copies of the gene pair, causing the body to not have working copies of that particular gene.

Genes can be either dominant or recessive. Dominant genes show their effect even if there is just one mutation in one copy of that gene pair; the one mutation "dominates" the normal back-up copy of the gene, and the characteristic shows itself."

Of the entire list of gene changes that Jie Jie has, about half are autosomal recessive, meaning she doesn't have the syndrome.

That brings us to the top half of the list of changes. Essentially, the top three changes cause conditions that have over-lapping traits, but one really matches her and it's autosomal dominant. It causes moderate to severe intellectual disability and expressive and receptive language impairment and about a dozen other things that Jie Jie has, as well as a few that she doesn't have (such as dysmorphic facial features). This condition is extremely rare, but well-known in genetic circles.

So, the big question is, "What does this mean for Jie Jie?" It means that there is a reason why she keeps falling further and further behind her same-age peers. There's a reason why she struggles with speech and auditory processing. There's a reason why she can't make sense of days and weeks and months and time and the relationship between numbers and why she can't learn what odd and even numbers are. It also explains why her short-term memory has a few glitches and the problems that brings. And so very much more. Her severe physical disabilities complicate things further because she doesn't have the intellectual ability to care for her needs and make medical decisions for herself.

As of right now, it's believed that Jie Jie's physical disabilities are separate from her genetic disabilities, however, in a few years, scientists may have made discoveries that connect them.

On the positive side, she is still making progress in many areas and no one knows what her potential is. She is creative, caring, curious and joyful.

There's so much more to this than I can share. It's a very hard road. I'm still trying to wrap my head around it.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

February Round-up: Spring at the Zoo & Sweetheart Dance

The African Plain exhibit is open at our zoo now and My Firefighter gave us a year pass for Christmas this year. We have a GREAT zoo here, I love going and relaxing and seeing the animals. The new exhibits are state-of-the-art and further improvements are planned. It was amazing to see the African animals together on a huge expanse of land where they can actually run. We even saw giraffes mating, but they are not currently on the plain, but beside it.

The complex where the girls have gymnastics hosted a Valentine dance for families with kids with special needs, but all families were welcome. We all went and it was super special seeing My Firefighter dancing with each of the girls. I'm sorry our photos are blurry, but the dancing never stopped. There were professional pictures taken, but we haven't received them yet.

February Round -up: Jie Jie's B-Day & Gymnastics

My goodness, she is 12 years old! She grew 4 inches this year but is still very small for her age at 52" tall and about 54 pounds. She's now in the church Young Women's program. It's a big developmental leap for her but everyone is kind and welcoming. For her birthday we had a fire in our backyard fire pit, a first since being in our new home (after 2.5 years!).

All the girls have also started gymnastics at an all-inclusive sports center. We have a scholarship, making this possible. The older girls do Fast Forward (on a grant) first, then Apple has her class for an hour, then the three older girls have class for an hour. It's a long haul Tuesday evenings, I have to pack their dinner, but it's been fun and developmentally helpful. I get to sit and chat with moms, which is very nice, too, especially since many of the moms have kids with special needs and can share that perspective.


After gymnastics class, any child with a birthday that week gets pushed around the gym on the horse and everyone in the class runs after them. It's terrific fun!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Left Hanging

Update 3/10/16: I now have an appointment for March 22!

Complex. There's that word again, uttered by a medical specialist's scheduler.

Four days ago I received a phone call from the geneticist's scheduler. They found something. They want me to come in. They want to photograph Jie Jie then have her leave the room while they tell me all about it. Usually, they like the child to stay in the room and participate in what's going on. They couldn't get me in until late APRIL! I mentioned we have other testing going on that this could affect so they moved the date to April 11. FIVE WEEKS away!

I asked for a phone consultation. Sorry, it's too complex to handle on the phone.

I said I'll read about it first in her medical record. Sorry, they aren't putting it in her record until after they consult with me.

Do they truly think it's okay to do this to people? To mothers?

Meanwhile, Sissy's been having serious behavioral issues. Things escalated shortly after her 17th birthday last November and reached a critical point the week before Christmas. It can't be explained without being very specific and there is an issue of her privacy. More evaluations are being done later this month. It's devastating. Her situation is also being described as complex by many specialists. I'm extremely angry at the people in China who hid/lied about her condition. I'm not alone in this. Other moms with children from the same orphanage have similar situations. Now we are figuring out how to move forward in a positive way.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

January 31, 2016

There was a great snow storm 60 miles from us, right up the mountain. It was the first time the girls had seen snow falling from the sky. It snowed fat wet flakes all day. Going up, chains were required at 5000 feet. By the time we came down, the snow level and required chain elevation was 2500 feet. I had borrowed sleds from some church friends and we had a blast!


It was hard to get sledding photos, but I took these off our video clips...


Sissy


Blossom


Jie Jie


Apple and Mommy


My Firefighter


My Firefighter

Thursday, February 18, 2016

January 21, 2016


Waiting to get the new orthotics.


Waiting for the adjustments to be made on the new orthotics.

We took a 3 hours drive to Shriner's Hospital, leaving at 5am. In the morning, we met with Jie Jie's surgeon about her scoliosis. He ordered more imaging scans, which we did and have to pop in the mail tomorrow, then we'll find out what happens next. In between, we visited a friend, then went back to the hospital in the afternoon to pick up SMOs and orthotics for Jie Jie and Blossom. I wasn't disappointed. Shriner's makes GREAT braces!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Good Morning

It's a great morning! I don't have any morning appointments and my afternoon work was cancelled, the sun is shining after a night of much-needed rain and I began my day with a phone call from My Firefighter, who is back at work across the street after being out sick for over a month, and he said the nicest thing to me. You know, one of those things that just fill your heart with joy and make you feel so loved.

This is his little old lady dog, he inherited her just over a year ago when his dad passed away. I have the cutest videos of Apple walking her when she was still learning to walk well herself. They both move at the same speed - slow. My cat Rose doesn't care if Josie is a dog, she knows a friend when she sees one. My other cats don't mind having a dog around, especially one that is deaf and blind, but it's pretty comical when Josie realizes a cat is near and barks like a dog should and sends them scattering, especially if they've come to see what's in her food bowl.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

New Year, New Recipes

While winter is here and the temperature outside under 106 degrees, I am enjoying using my oven, but I've also rediscovered my crock pot. A couple months before adopting Apple, I bought a few new cookbooks so I decided to get them out and pick something new to try. I used the Taste of Home's Slow Cooker Favorites and made Slow-Cooked Sauerkraut Soup. I'd never had sauerkraut in soup before and would have been turned off by the title, but the picture was enticing so I gave it a try and I'm so glad that I did. It was really, really good. I can't wait to make it again. I did, however, not read the recipe closely and thought it only made 3 quarts, so I doubled the recipe and realized a single batch was 5 quarts when it didn't all fit into my 6 quart crockpot. I ended up cooking half in the crockpot and half in the electric pressure cooker. They turned out identical, but one took only 10 minutes to cook and the other a few hours. 10 quarts sure seems like a lot, but it lasted for only 2 meals with my crew plus My Firefighter and that's with adding grilled cheese sandwiches to it, too.

Last night, My Firefighter and I made chocolate chip cookies from a new recipe. I found the link to the recipe on a friend's blog and followed it because she posted 3 things that she made that were new to her and wrote that if one can make only one of the 3 things, then to make the cookies, so we did. It was the first time I ever made chocolate chip cookies that stayed soft and chewy and thick. All my cookies in the past got very flat no matter what I did. Click HERE to get to the recipe if you want to try them.