Tuesday, June 30, 2015

My CHAMP camper

 Ralph has become a big boy!

We are in Washington, D.C. for his second week of CHAMP camp, an intensive speech camp for kids with apraxia. We get 3 1/2 hours of individual and group therapy over the course of two weeks. I am really hopeful for breakthroughs in articulation. Ralph has SO much to say. I need the world to understand him. 

We are working in ways to incorporate movement into therapy this week and I am really impressed with the results so far! Parent education is a large part of the program as well. 

I am grateful for this opportunity to travel with Ralph to get intensive therapy. In addition to the therapy for Ralph and the education for me, we have met some great new friends! To trade ideas and information with other parents is priceless. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


My Ralph.

He is 8 today. I cannot believe it.

He was born on a beautiful Sunday. I remember so many little details about this blessed day. It was a true gift from God.

Our family enjoyed a meaningful worship service that morning. Pretty sure we sang Everlasting God, which would become very meaningful for me a few days later. After church I was feeling like maybe I was going into labor, so my sweet husband fed the children while I rested in my room. It was a golden day, the sun was shining and my bedroom windows were open to the breeze.

As I labored gently, there is no other way to describe this labor, I could hear the children playing outside our home. Our home. Life was perfect in the new home we had built and moved into only a few months earlier. I couldn't have been happier or more content at any other moment in my life. The sunset made our bedroom glow.

My darling husband called the midwife. We had everything ready to go for another home birth...but I requested that she not come too soon this time. I labor more comfortably and confidently when I am unobserved and quite secluded. I sang worship songs along with my favorite radio station and wandered from the bed to a warm bath and back again. It seems like a dream now.

I can't say enough about my brave and wonderful husband, who was able to track my progress with coaching from the midwife over the phone. (I mean, really? The things that man has done for me...) Anyway, she arrived to the house about dark and things got serious very quickly. She found old meconium in the amniotic fluid upon breaking my water and I powered that little baby out in no time...this was an emergency.

I remember quite clearly how darling my little Ralph was, from the very first moment I saw him. So cute. It just struck me. And I remember the midwife saying, "I think your baby may have Down Syndrome." But I didn't care...it just didn't matter. His lungs were full of gunk and he couldn't breathe. I just wanted him to be OK...DS or not.

We called 911. Firefighters, policemen, and paramedics showed up. So many people. The ambulance driver missed a turn to get on the highway. The doctor at the hospital was so rude. I refused to be admitted so they made me walk all the way to the NICU to see Ralph. Our lives fell apart that wonderful night that turned into a nightmare.

I am so truly thankful for the peaceful labor and the wonderful memories of the day Ralph was born. God must have know that I would need to hang on to this wonderful memory to face the hard days ahead...days when I was sure he would not make it through.

Now Ralph is healthy, and strong and so very big! The peaceful, beautiful memories and the dark, difficult ones remind me that God is always in control, and I have SO very much to be thankful for, even in seasons of difficulty and sorrow.

Thank you, Ralph! You have taught me so much in the past eight years. Happy birthday, you handsome boy!!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Goodbye to Gunther

We said goodbye to our sweet Gunther Apollo over the weekend. His bloodwork indicated that he was in kidney failure, with extremely abnormal results. I did my best to make sure he was eating and drinking, but he did not appreciate my efforts. 

We adopted Gunther on Valentine's day, 2002. A litter of German Shorthair puppies were featured on the local noon news program. I loaded up the kids and we made the drive across town to take a look at these adorable pups. We gave him a good Germanic name and tagged the Apollo part after speed skating sensation Apollo Ono. As a puppy, he was so tiny that he could curl up in baby Jordan's bouncy seat!

Over the years, Gunther developed a distaste for the UPS man, and the big brown truck. We receive packages frequently. I could always tell we were getting a package because Gunther would start to growl when the truck was coming down the street. 

As much as he disliked the UPS man/truck, he loved diapers and garbage. Especially dirty diapers. We learned to keep the garbage pail in a secure area but he never let an opportunity go to waste, right up to the very end. 

Rose came with me to the vet and I was so happy to have her there with me. It is never easy to say goodbye, even when the time is right. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

He's come a long way.

Zhen has his first music program tonight. This is amazing to me!

This is a child that began his life as a reject...unloved and unwanted. It took a huge toll on him. Many developmental milestones came and went in 3 1/2 years. He only learned how to be helpless...and to be afraid of human contact. 

We've seen so much growth in him over the past four years. And recently he has done things I never imagined that he would do...like speaking (he has a few consistent words!). He has begun to connect with other people in new ways. I actually caught him singing along with a Veggietales video!

I had the privilege of sharing about Zhen with his general Ed class last week. Here are the photos he displayed. So, tonight he will perform a program with the kids, all of whom are very respectful and friendly. Hes been in school for four years, but this is the first year I felt he could handle participating in a program. He's come a very long way...in so many ways. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Joy and sorrow

They often go together and give life it's distinctive addictive flavor. We can't know one without the other. The flavors get more intense as we age. I sometimes wonder how deeply one can feel the hurts and sorrows of life and yet, continue to get out of bed each morning. 

My joy today: The matching grant for Dmitry's family was met in a little over a day. Not just met, but unmistakeably blown out of the water. Big gifts and small added up to over $3000...$4000 with the match. Big gifts and small added up to a huge blessing, for the givers and the receivers. A love bomb!

This is joy! The little boy known to us as Dmitry, and who his family will call Zebediah, may never know how you helped his family perform this mission of love, but his life is about to change for the better. And we got to take part in this! 

My sorrow today: My dog, Gunther Apollo is dying. He has claimed the love seat in the front room and refusing to move, or eat. He has lost a shocking amount of muscle mass in just a week. I'm giving him some over the counter meds recommended by a vet friend, just in case it's something else and he might get better in time. But at the age of 13, we all know that his time is coming soon. 

Soon I will have to answer questions like, "do animals go to Heaven?" My answers won't be good enough. I hope so, though, handsome boy. 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

For the Birds

Keeping little ones out of trouble over the weekend is always a challenge. I am not the best at planning activities, but we have something fun today.

We are recycling wedding reception decorations. Cranberries and marbles in mason jars made cute candle holders. They have been sitting around for a month. Time to do something new.

Little hands can string berries. I'm sure the birds will be pleased. 

Who says this is only for Christmas? Check out this intense concentration. 

I'm using needles and thread from my gram's sewing box. Wonder how old this spool of thread could be!

Don't forget about my birthday wish...the matching grant is about 50% matched! Go here and give a little: 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Birthday wish...

My birthday snuck up on me! Actually, don't tell anyone, but my recent anniversary got forgotten in the middle of our house of sick horrors. I guess both of these make me old.

So what do I want for my birthday? I'm so glad you asked!!

Five years ago I made a deal with my husband...I told him I wouldn't need another birthday present ever, if he would agree to adopt Theo. He did. We did. And I'm so glad! It is probably the best good thing we will ever do in our lives.

But, it did open this can of worms. We will never be the same after the experience. The kids we left behind are never far from our thoughts. Many of them will never have the chance to experience the love and care of a family. Some have a chance, though. The odds are long, but a chance.

Baby Dmitry
I started advocating for Dmitry in 2011. His head was shockingly large, even at eight months old. He needed out quickly. He needed medical care right away. Road block after road block was thrown up...missed opportunities and shady excuses. By 2013 I was sure that he had died.

About a year ago a dear friend asked me to help her find an adoptive home for this amazing boy. She sent me this photo. It was Dmitry!! Amazingly, he was still alive...and happy. He talked and laughed.

Dmitry is alive!

I used my contacts to try to get this boy some immediate medical attention. Between red tape, egos, and a war, this proved to be impossible. The only chance was to find a family to adopt him. 

Long and winding story short...for my birthday, I would like to show some love to the family that is now working like crazy to bring him home. And I would like to invite you to join me. Really. I'm giving for my birthday, not just asking. 

I know that a lot of you are struggling...we all are, and yet, we find ways to do things that are important to us. Seriously, send me a dollar bill and it will go to this boy. A five spot, even better. You could make an online donation and read a little bit about the family HERE

This adoption is moving fast and the family needs a few funds to move forward. There is an $850 matching grant set up for them. If we can raise this much by February 7th. You could be part of the best good thing to happen to Dmitry!

This is my birthday wish. Thank you!