Thursday, April 25, 2013


It's almost 11am and Ruby is still sleeping. I keep checking on her and she's definitely still alive, so I'll let her sleep as long as her body needs to sleep.

Kansas State assessments are over for my homeschoolers. Just a few more weeks and they will be finished with school altogether. I may have two or three kids studying at home next year. Haven't quite decided yet. I'm agonizing over it, really. Adding to the list of decisions I need to make.

Today feels like spring, finally. Good thing because Hammy has a zoo field trip today! So glad he has a nice sunny day to visit the zoo with his friends. Tomorrow will be cold and rainy again. Just like me, spring cannot seem to make up it's mind.

Despite the snow and ice, the dandelions are not afraid. They are blooming in all their glory. Our yard has more puffy yellow dots than the neighbors, so today I took a bucket and a short helper out to the front yard. We picked as many bits of sunshine that we could fit in our little bucket.

Back inside, I spent half an hour cutting off the stems and bases, throwing the petals into a pan. We are making dandelion syrup! I just boiled the petals and will let them sit in the fridge overnight to infuse. They smell a bit like cooked spinach. Tomorrow we will add the sugar to preserve. I love to try new things and the kids are fascinated with the concept of foraging.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Baby Maximus

Maximus is such a nice boy. He is easy to entertain, fun to be around, completely cute and quiet as a mouse, unless you lift him up too fast. Then his high pitched squeal might shatter glass!!

He eats what I make for him. He goes to sleep when I lay him down. He gives amazing hugs.

There is really only one area where we struggle to care for him. Drinking.

Max cannot drink out of anything but a spoon. He tips his head back and lets the liquid run down his throat. Can you imagine me spoon feeding him apple juice on an airplane? Not fun.

He has no concept of sucking, so he cannot figure out a bottle or any sippy cup that I have tried. He has no muscle tone in his face and minimal tongue control, so when he tries drinking out of a cup, the liquid runs out the corners of his mouth.

I use a lot of liquid in his pureed food to compensate for what he isn't drinking, but it is not enough. He continues to struggle with constipation as a result.

I'm redoubling my efforts to get him drinking independently. Today we started working on a bottle again. He wasn't too excited about the milk, or maybe he just didn't understand what I wanted him to do, so he kept refusing. I mixed some chocolate syrup into the milk to see if I could get him excited about drinking. He loved the chocolate milk, but still didn't want to work at all to get it out of the bottle.

I ended up cutting a tiny hole in the nipple so that he could have some success. I squeezed his floppy, thin cheeks together to try to help him get a seal around the nipple. I gave him lots of chin support. Uggh. Hard. So hard. We clapped and cheered for him when he finally finished the two ounce bottle!! Half hour later.

I don't care if he is eight. Don't give me a hard time for introducing him to a bottle. He never got to be snuggled and fed by a mommy like a proper baby. He missed out on babyhood altogether and I won't deny him.

Incidentally, today I received a baby picture of Max. He's not really a baby, but it's still precious for me to have so many photos of him from the last few years before we met. Oh, and it's authentic Ukrainian orphanage style to dress boys in pink. No big deal.

Check out the chocolate covered little guy!

Would you like a calculator with that cake?

As he was walking out of the house this morning, my husband struck me as so stinkin' hot that I decided to make him a pineapple upside down cake. It turned out a little dark...think he will notice?

So, instead of an awesome birthday party for Ralph and his friends, I'm going to take treats to his class at school. I'm trying to come up with something really creative. I'm lacking in this department so I'll be searching online photos for something fun.

Zhen ate something again. He has pica, a condition that compels him to eat non-food items. I can't remember if I have publicly shared this or not. He prefers rubbery or foamy items...craft foam, pool noodles, crib mattresses, rubber bands, balloons, and plastic shopping bags are all items that we have found in pieces in the potty. He knows it is wrong, so he sneaks around to feed, literally, this obsession.

This time he ate the rubbery buttons off of a calculator. *sigh* Never dull around here.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Long overdue update

It is supposedly Spring now, but you wouldn't know it by the weather today. Ice, snow, and bitter cold winds have us hunkered down. Good thing I'm slightly disorganized, haha, or I would have put the winter coats away already.

We've enjoyed some glorious days in between ice and snow events. I'm so happy that prom night was pleasant, a bit windy, but it's Kansas, right? No big deal. I surprised Chip by taking him suit shopping. He thought we were just going out to find some shoes! The joke was on me though. When he took of his hoodie at the department store I saw that he was wearing a ripped t-shirt. Imagine a high end suit jacket over a ripped up wife beater! Ah, but we make memories this way, don't we?

Max is healthy and loved and showing us new ball skills like dribbling!! However, the poor dude is BORED when all the other little kids go to school. I'm trying desperately to get him evaluated and enrolled, but the wheels are turning slowly. I hope to have news about starting him before the end of the week.

Max did get to meet his oldest brother last weekend. I'm so glad that Wes could spend a little time with us and hang out with the babies. We don't get to see him nearly often enough.

Ralph's birthday is coming up. He will be six. Six big years that have rocked our world. I'm thinking of putting together a real birthday party with friends and everything, but not sure I can pull it off.

The story of my life lately is lots of big plans that I'm not sure I can pull off. Every day I'm tempted to quit on these plans. Some days I'm sure that quitting is the right and sensible thing to do. Then the next day I'll get a message, or run into someone, or read something that gives me the fire that I need to continue moving forward.

I'm taking a little retreat next week. I'm hoping to enjoy enough quiet and alone time to really hone in on what I need to be doing and how. Of course, I can't just take a retreat, I have to tag it onto something else...

In this case, I'll be traveling to see one of my sons compete in a national track meet. He throws javelin and is in a position to place well. Can't wait!!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Fingers and toes

Ralph spent his first Christmas in the hospital on a ventilator. I'll never forget those desperate days and how terribly sick he was. After that new year, when he was home and getting stronger, I was reminded of just how awfully ill he was.

These strange horizontal lines slowly appeared on Ralph's finger and toe nails. The lines became more prominent over the next few months, the nail became dull, and after awhile the nails fell off altogether revealing a shiny new nail underneath.

An example of Beau's lines.

Ralph's doctor explained to me that these were probably Beau's lines. For a period of time, Ralph's body was so busy fighting illness that his nails stopped growing. Can you imagine being so sick that cell division in the nail matrix is temporarily suspended?

These lines can occur for other reasons (none of them are good news), including malnutrition.

Recently, as I was removing Max's socks and shoes, I noticed something odd. The toe nails didn't look right.  I didn't think much of it, until a few days later...the lines were becoming visible. The Beau's lines. 

I looked at his fingernails and there they were. Fainter, less noticeable, but still visible upon inspection. 

I was stabbed in the heart...again. Since I don't think Max was sick at all from December to February, my hunch is that he was just that malnourished. With the introduction of adequate nutrition and the calories needed for catch up growth, his body finally had the resources to start growing finger and toe nails again. 

My anger burned for a few days. And then I started thinking of all the other severely stunted children in his grouppa. Ten, eleven, thirteen year old children the size of toddlers. How can this be happening? 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Thank you, Lifetouch!

I found two picture packets in Theo's backpack.


I've had a few kids in the school system, and I've seen many picture packets in my day. I've never had a child come home with two packets.

So I did a little investigating.

I found out that the Lifetouch folks spent some extra time with Theo on picture day. He would NOT sit on that box (do you remember sitting on that school picture box?) His teacher said they probably took twenty shots of him.

They sent two packets for me to pick the one I like best. How sweet is that?

As a rule, I don't buy school pictures. I take a lot of photos and prefer informal shots. This time though, I think I'll buy a few sheets. Simply because they took the time to make sure I had nice photos of my wild child.

Thanks Lifetouch!