December 31, 2011

Happy New Year’s Eve, etc. etc. etc.

Sorry!  Got sidetracked with merry making and forgot to post a Mister Linky for those who would like to blog their way through the following nightmare Challenge:

31 Days of Nothing {Unhealthy}

Don’t let my sour-grapes attitude scare you off.  This is a WORTHY challenge!  And no one (I mean, NO ONE) needs it more than this girl sitting here typing up this post.  I’m just loathe.  Loathe to do what I know I must. 

Secret confession time:  I do not do anything involving self-discipline.  I avoid it at all costs.  I know, this seems shocking (cough) but it’s true.  No, really.  The only hard lines I draw for myself are those that involve laying on the couch in regular intervals, eating at Chipotle only on days ending in “Y”, and visiting Hobby Lobby after every major holiday.  These are the rules of my life.

And sadly enough, I have a motto.  And I should be embarrassed to tell you this, but what the hay, here goes:  “I’m going to die fat and happy”.  There.  I said it.  And I do say it.  A lot.  GASP.  I can’t help it.  I’m the daughter of a mortician.  Everybody dies.  This much I learned.  And you can’t cheat death.  He’s no respecter of persons.  Fat, skinny, healthy, unhealthy, old or young.  Still, this “motto” of sorts has led to an unusually unattractive byproduct: the middle-school boys at the pool this summer joking that the  water would empty out, should I get in.  The lady at the bank asking me when I was “due”.  The turnstile at the amusement park getting caught on my pants and rendering me stuck.  My 4 year old poking my stomach and saying “you have a big tummy, Mommy!”.  When I said “that’s not very nice”, he replied very matter of fact “it’s ok Mommy!  It’s fine!  All 'women's had' babies”.  I spared him the point of truth that I have never given birth to anything other than a five pound cheesecake. 

So yes.  I’m a little bitter.  I don’t like discipline.  I don’t like eating right.  I don’t like healthy food.  I don’t like fat-free anything.  I don’t like carrots or peas or celery or rice cakes or brown rice or tofu or green things.  I don’t like diet-coke.  I don’t like tea.  I can keep going.  I don’t like running.  I don’t like walking, unless there’s a food reward at the end.  For crying out loud, I don’t like having to get up and retrieve the remove control, if I have already laid down on the couch and then see that it’s across the room.  This is the state of affairs over here, people.  It’s ugly.

My version of exercise is the movement and motion it takes me to put my children to bed at night.  It’s a one-story house, people.  A small one, at that.

So enter the January challenge.  Sigh…………………..

It’s time.  Even if it’s only for a month.  They say it only takes 14 days to form a new habit.  So we’re betting people, you and I.  We’re betting that trying to tackle this for 31 days will actually push us into a new lifestyle.  One that involves healthier living.  You, and I, and the bucket loads of e-mails and notes I’ve received telling me how many of you are along for this month’s challenge.  I’m actually honored that I’m so completely NOT ALONE.  Thank you…it is very rewarding to have so many of you on board for this one. 

That said, here’s some homework and details for those of you participating:

  • I would love to tell you to involve your whole family, but I know that’s not always possible.   Fortunately in our home, we’re all in.  Even the kids – well…mostly.  There will be *some* exceptions for them, but not many.  AB and I are in it to win it. {ish}  No, we are!  {Mostly}  STOP!  We’re doing this!  (see, I don’t know how to make the bad thoughts step-aside…dread does not even come close it!)
  • Support is key – even for 31 days.  If you’re going it alone in your home, perhaps find an online community, a friend, a neighbor, or co-worker to take the challenge with you.
  • Make a plan or strategy for being successful.  Don’t be unprepared or uncertain.  Know what your goals are and wake up ready to go tomorrow!  We have all tried many fads and diets, but this month is not about that.  This month is about healthier living in general.  This means eating right, exercising, and getting plenty of rest.  Here’s our goal:
  1. Eating much smaller portions, and healthier choices.  For Anton, he prefers one main meal a day.  I prefer 6 small meals.  Either way, the food choices we make will reflect low-fat, lighter, and healthier options. 
  2. Exercise 3 times a week.  For me, I’m taking the Couch to 5K Challenge.  I hate running, but this plan eases you into it gently with lots of walking.  Heck, it eases you into it by getting you off the couch.  If you’re interested, you can visit their website HERE.  It’s free and it’s easy.  The plan is spelled out for you and easy to follow.  I’ll be posting about my progress as we enter the next four weeks.  I’ll also be riding my bike, as weather permits.
  3. Sleeping 8 hours a night.  Night-owls listen up: we have to get more rest!  It’s not a big enough priority.  Eight hours.  Let’s do this!

Now onto what our family is changing/avoiding:
  • Weekly Weigh-Ins.  I haven’t done this since Jr. High gym class.  Ouch.  Oh, and I’m SO not posting my weight here.  No.  But I will at least post weight loss, in terms of inches or pounds.  That I can do. 
  • Fast food of any kind is out.  Double Ouch.
  • Decreased red-meat intake.  We eat quite a bit of red meat.  We’re heading for leaner cuts of beef, but with a much larger emphasis on chicken and fish.  We’re stocked up!
  • Drinking soda, wine, or beer is out.  Please don’t even ask me how I’m going to live without Coke.  Please.  Don't ask.  (sniffle…sob….sniffle)  Water, ice-tea, and coffee.  Occasional juices.
  • Late nights with too much unhealthy snacking.  Off to bed, early instead.  What?  It's one month.  We can all do anything for one month.  Criminy!
  • No potato chips, French-fries, fried foods, heavy sauces, excessive butter or oils
  • No sweets.  Well…a little dark chocolate is good for you.  But no cake, ice-creams, candy, etc.  Haven’t we all over-dosed in December anyway?

Let’s chat about RESOURCES:

Here are some tools that will help you get through the month and might even inspire you to greater and longer lasting health and fitness.  This of course, coming from the girl who doesn’t even own a pair of exercise shoes.  Ahem.  Go get em!

**(And I probably don’t need to say this, but I will anyway:  I am not a doctor and I am not affiliated with any of the links below.  I can’t advise you how to lose weight, and I can’t tell you what’s best for your body.  Please consult a physician if you are unsure or need assistance with better health and weight loss.)**
  • Weight Watchers – The have a fabulous point system that allows you to eat regular food in smaller and more appropriate portions.  You are in charge and you control the food you eat.  It’s a wonderful tool.
  • Couch 2 5K – Great free exercise program to get you moving this month!
  • Body Weight Calculator – Find out what your appropriate weight range is (American Accreditation HealthCare Commission)
  • Weight-Loss Basics – A great resource about how to approach weight-loss with lots of links to additional resources. (Mayo Clinic)

Last but not least – I have tools for you to use (helpful…that’s me!) There are many online tools you can find out there, but some cost money to use.  If you prefer the old pencil and paper routine, here’s what I’ve got – please e-mail me HERE if you would like any of the below spreadsheets and be specific with the ones you want:
*you will need Word/Excel to view these documents*

DAILY WELLNESS LOG (includes eating, sleeping, and exercise)
 
WEEKLY MEAL PLANNER (plan your meals ahead!!)

FITNESS TRAINING TRACKER (track your exercise and see your progress) 

DAILY FOOD DAIRY (track your daily eating)


LAST BUT NOT LEAST:

Please, oh please, blog about your month if you can!  We're planning on receipes, meal plans, pictures, and lots of progress reports from the front lines.  If you’d be willing – can you list your name and blog address below on the Mister Linky?  That way we can all follow along on your progress and I can highlight here those who are taking the challenge!  Danka!

If you’re going to participate, and even if you’ve already told me – can you leave a comment here?  Strength in numbers, my friends.  Strength in numbers…

Thanks to all – let’s DO THIS!



December 27, 2011

Four days and counting...

Sorry for the delay of sorts in posting, but we've been living up the good life at La Cabin!  Oh how I love the relaxing pace, the family, the kids all playing and laughing, the napping, the food...I just enjoy myself so very much.

Meanwhile, I had to get on here and at least give you the reminder that in FOUR DAYS the next Challenge begins and it's a DOOOOOOOSEY:


If you want to get a re-cap with the basics of this challenge go read THIS

Otherwise, it's pretty much the following:  eat healthy.  cut out the crap.  exercise.  lose weight in the process.

Are you in?

You're tempted, aren't you?  I can tell.

The thing is - it's only 31 days.  If you don't like your results and want to go back to eating half gallons of ice-cream in a sitting as of February 1st - you're the boss!

Meanwhile, you have four days to decide.  

In THREE DAYS, I'll post the Mister Linky and everyone who is "IN" and wants to blog through their Challenge can leave a link so we can follow along.

I'll be blogging about our own family's 31 days with daily menus, pictures, and tales of woe from the front lines of healthy eating.  

Can I tell you a secret?

I'M NOT LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS CHALLENGE AT ALL.

Whew.

There.
I said it.

Now let's DO THIS!

{gulp}


December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Winter

I just wanted to take this opportunity to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas!  We are so blessed with a warm house, food in our bellies, and two of the most amazing children parents could ever ask for!

I’ve been thinking a lot about what we have to be grateful for – that seems to be a theme in our house this month, with the “31 Days of Goodwill” and the Christmas season surrounding us.  The truth is – when you look outside of your own circumstance and start doing for others – you realize how very blessed you are indeed.  That has been a humbling part of this month’s challenge for me.  We are so blessed in all that we have! 

And so with that in mind…

Enjoy your time off.
Enjoy a nap.
Enjoy eating way too much amazing food.
Enjoy your relatives and family get-togethers, Christmas music, hustle, bustle, cold weather, too many sweets, messy houses strewn with suitcases and wrapping paper and dishes in the sink.
Enjoy your time with those you love…
Enjoy celebrating and being together and look around yourself.  Hug those you love.  Think fondly of those who are no longer able to be with you.
Kiss your children and love on your spouse.
Embrace the chaos.
Let things go.
Put your feet up.
Play a game with your family.
Read a book on the couch while everyone naps.
Say a prayer for those around you.
Enjoy how blessed we truly are.
Let these lovely days be merry and bright.

I’m so glad our paths have crossed…

Happiest of Christmases to you and to those you hold dear.

December 20, 2011

Isn’t she spectacular?

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That is some ADORABLE Christmas cheer….if I do say so, myself…

December 18, 2011

December 16, 2011

We should talk about this…

Because it’s takes prep time to adjust your mentality to it.  At least it does for me.  Let’s just say that we don’t exactly practice the art of healthy eating over here.  Maybe more like the art of gluttony.  Ahem.  So ENTER January’s Challenge….

31 Days of Nothing {Unhealthy}

I’m giving you time to process if you really want to tackle this one with us or not.  Here are some details:

  • It will mirror the 30 Days of Nothing Challenge – in that, it will be almost daily menus, pics of food, and honest thoughts on how it’s going
  • You will need to commit to eating healthy.  That means no fast-food, limited fats and sugars, and cutting back on portions.
  • No diet pills allowed.  Sorry but the point is natural and healthy – not peeing until you’re 15 pounds lighter.  No one can keep that up.
  • It’s not about losing pounds as much as it is about eating healthier and benefiting from that.  Losing pounds is a fabulous by-product.
  • There’s no weight loss contest to win – but a before and after pic might be fun?  I would love to see that on your blogs.
  • You will need a scale and you will need to actually step onto it.  Just to monitor any changes.  Just sayin’.
  • I’m not putting stipulations on this (i.e. you can’t eat any processed food, you have to exercise, whatever).  I think that’s left to the individual.  For us, I think we’ll try to eat as healthy as possible, cut out as much fat as we can, and put our focus on fish, chicken, vegetables and fruit.  Low starch intake, low sugar intake, and cheating at a bare minimum.  Possibly some kind of exercise at least twice a week.  Even if that’s just a bundled up walk around the neighborhood for 20 minutes or a good game of Wii Boxing!  That’s our goal. 
  • Not sure what to do with all the junk-food in our house – but considering taking it to a friends house for safe-keeping.  Don’t want to dump it, because the cheap-o in me can’t seem to do that.  Have to think about that – but having it here is too much temptation.  Way too much.

You don’t have to do it.  But you could.  Just to see.  It’s only a month.  It’s non-committal in a way, because if you say you’re going to diet or change – that’s usually supposed to be a permanent situation.  I’m letting you off easy.  Come February, you can go right back to fries and mayo.  (Maybe that’s just us?)  It’s one month of your life – just to get an idea of what happens when you really carve out the junk food.  What can it hurt (besides your willpower?)

Anyway, I wanted to bring it up at the two week mark – because I realize a lot of us need ample prep/acceptance time for this type of challenge.  It’s not easy, but it’s certainly going to have some rewards that will outweigh the pain of parting with our salted chocolate covered caramels.  Sigh…

You’re on notice.  This can be one of your New Year’s resolutions…are you in?


December 13, 2011

31 Days of Goodwill–Day 13

31 Days of Goodwill

Just a quick update to let you all know what we’ve been up to for this challenge.

Neighbors ~
First of all – we have baked and delivered goodies to our neighbors with cards, (yes, even the ones we never speak to…here’s to relationship building!) and I still have several more to finish.  Really excited about this, as just today I found a gift on my porch.  I was expecting it was from a friend who had mentioned dropping something off to me – but instead it was from one of the neighbors I had delivered baked goodies to.  Inside was a 4-pack of Play-Doh (boy did she get that one right!) and a package of chocolates.  The card completely made my day.  It read:
“We thank you very much for the delicious treats and the invitation to church.  It was truly a surprise and a sweet blessing.  Thank you!  You guys are welcome to come and play with us!!!  We ask our Lord to continue blessing and watching over you during this beautiful season and all the year through!”
This getting to know the neighbors and serve them treats is not so bad! 

Church ~
So far, we’ve managed a couple things but I’m not completely satisfied that it’s enough – because I’m not sure it’s far enough out of our normal routine.  So we’ll see what else we can come up with to stretch our norm.  I volunteered to be a part of our Youth’s Christmas Musical, along with many wonderful people.  I got to be part of a wonderful choir of voices, and even though it was a time-commitment, it was really worth it.  We had a lovely turn-out and it was a touching evening. 

I’ve also volunteered to sing for our church’s Christmas Eve service with a very talented team of vocalists and musicians.  This is exciting for me, because it’s an opportunity for me to use my particular gifts to bless others.  Again, not so sure that’s considered stretching myself – because it’s something I love to do.  Still, I’m looking forward to it – because it’s a very full service with lots of people from the community who don’t normally attend church.  Woot!

We’ve also had the opportunity to volunteer to teach Sunday School as “substitute teachers” in the 3 year old class.  Oh help!  But you know – this actually IS stretching Anton and I.  I don’t think we’ve ever done this before and it should be a great learning experience – among other things, ha!  Really looking forward to it and really loved having the motivation to say YES when the need arose.  One of the great benefits of this challenge is that I find we’re LOOKING for ways to plug in and help out.  Wish I could say that we do that 365 days a year. 

Community ~


Really needing some ideas here - we are having a hard time with this one because of travel and time constraints.  It's bothering me that we haven't taken care of this...how hard can it be to help out your community?

World ~
I have some great ideas for all of you, if you aren’t sure how to help.  We haven’t made our decision yet – but I think we’ve narrowed it down to one or two of the following: (the titles are LINKS so you can read about them yourselves!)

This one, in particular, touches my heart.  You really have the opportunity to change an entire family's life with a simple gift.  And these aren’t just any gifts.  You can buy a pair of chicks for a family – to provide eggs that will feed them for a long time.  The cost of that gift?  $11.00.  $140 buys a pair of goats that supply a family with 1,095 liters of milk a year!  Electricity is a rare commodity in many South Asian villages - $25 buys a lantern to light up a small family home.  $65 purchases a lamb that will produce 30 pounds of wool each year, not to mention milk and the cheese that can be made from it.  Read some of the stories on the site and see how these gifts CHANGED LIVES.  We have everything we need!  Imagine being in a situation where a lantern and two chicks made all the difference for your entire family?  This is a worthy charity, indeed.

Feed the Children has a special place in my mother’s heart – she has donated to them for years!  They offer international and statewide assistance to children  and families in severe need.  You may not see it very often – but there are millions of children who go to bed hungry every single night.  Not to mention, with little or no medical care for most of their childhood.  Feed the Children is a worthwhile organization where your donation will be used to benefit children in amazing ways.  In 2010, over 125,000 backpacks – loaded with assorted children's books, school supplies, food and personal care items – were distributed to our nation's growing population of homeless children through Feed the Children. 

Another worthy organization helping children and families overcome poverty in nearly 100 countries. The millions of people they serve include earthquake and hurricane survivors, abandoned and exploited children, survivors of famine and civil war, refugees, and children and families in communities devastated by AIDS in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

I can’t say enough good things about Amanda DeLange and the incredible difference she has made in the life of so many orphans in China through The Starfish Foster Home. Her unique gift is in finding babies and children who have special needs. Many of these babies have spina bifida, cleft palettes, and cardiovascular issues. The Starfish staff take the babies in, get them the medical treatment they need, and nurse them back to health – making them officially ready for adoption. I can’t think of a more worthy cause!

Half the Sky is a wonderful organization we have previously donated to. They are based in China and are an amazing group of people working hard to care for orphans. They provide individual nurturing and stimulation for babies, innovative preschools that encourage an early love of learning, personalized learning opportunities for older children, and loving — and most important, permanent — foster homes for children whose special needs will keep them from being adopted.

I think many of us, if not all, have heard of St. Jude.  And God forbid any of us ever are in need of their services, but I certainly know that if we were – we would get the most amazing care.  Children plagued with illness breaks my heart in too many ways to count.  This is a wonderful way to give this Holiday Season.
  • Thanks to donors, St. Jude families never pay for treatment not covered by insurance, and no child is ever denied treatment because of the family's inability to pay.
  • Your donations also help St. Jude cover other costs a family typically incurs while their child is being treated at the hospital, including travel, housing and food.
  • At St. Jude, donor dollars help fuel the groundbreaking research that leads to pioneering care and treatments for childhood cancer and other deadly diseases.

Since 1980, the Make-A-Wish Foundation® has enriched the lives of children with life-threatening medical conditions through its wish-granting work. The Foundation's mission reflects the life-changing impact that a Make-A-Wish® experience has on children, families, referral sources, donors, sponsors and entire communities.  Your donation makes the wishes of very ill children come true with the help of the Make a Wish Foundation.


I’d love to hear how each of you are spending this Holiday Season reaching out to others!  Please share with us in the comments!

December 9, 2011

What Happened to Quint - Part Two

You can read Part One of “What Happened to Quint” HERE to understand medically what happened.  Today’s post will deal with this mama’s emotional and spiritual take on Quint’s surgery.

So all of this has resonated deeply with me, because there’s greater significance and truth in all of it. I guess in the big grand design of life – he shouldn’t physically be here in our family. I mean, technically he belonged to a woman and a man on the other side of the world. Who for some reason, parted with him very early. Who for some reason couldn’t care for him. Who, for some reason, left him by a river.

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And for that alone, he shouldn’t be here. Because, we don’t know how many days he lay there – by that river. How many days it took for someone to come by – or what the weather was like, or what types of animals might have missed him.

He shouldn’t be here.

We don’t know why, being so ill in the orphanage, he continued to survive and fight and maintain his cheery disposition. Even with his poor tiny ears broken, draining and surely painful – he had a ready smile for us every day.

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We don’t know why, after three years of apparent suffering he has remained such a happy go-lucky boy with a sweet heart and a forgiving nature.

I don’t know why he made it through croup, twice.

I don’t know why he continued to breathe, when medically speaking he could have been taken from us for months – from sleep apnea, choking, common illness, or who knows what else. It makes me sick to my stomach to think of it.

Maybe by the worlds standards, he shouldn’t be here for lots of reasons.


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But his entire life, thus far, has been marked with one thing – an element of grace. It is my deepest belief that when Quint’s body would have given out, God mercifully had a much bigger plan for him. I choose to believe that when the doctor says he doesn’t know how he’s been breathing – that God in his grace – made a way. I believe that Quint’s life has purpose. That by the world’s standard, he shouldn’t be here – but God – whose ways are higher and not our ways – has a beautiful and amazing plan for Quint.

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And you can choose to just see all of this as chance or medical commonplace – thankful it was caught for the sake of being caught. Relieved that he’s ok. And glad we found out when we did. And that’s ok. I’ll take that, because we’re relieved too.

But I have to tell you, I take tremendous spiritual comfort knowing there’s a reason behind what appears to be chance. It’s called GRACE. I believe in a God who loves to show Himself as a real and tangible part of our lives – who takes care in reminding us how He delights over us with Love. To prove Himself real to us!  Even in a day and age when it’s hard to see anything clearly – I am here to tell you, I am so grateful for my faith. It absolutely sustains me in my darkest and happiest hours – and all the in-betweens.

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It’s these types of reminders in my life that bring the sweet truth of God’s plan back to me with startling clarity. And truly, God could have taken Quint from us. And that would have been utterly devastating in so many ways, I couldn’t begin to count them. But it would not change God’s plan, or His Grace or His love. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The beginning and the end. And He does not change. His love does not change. His plan does not change. So even when we’re scurrying around saying to ourselves “what if we hadn’t caught this” or “what if this “ or “what if that” – God is still the same. Quint’s days were numbered before his life began, and no amount of worrying on my part will ever change that.

And the truth is that God loves my son far more than I ever could – and that’s saying something, let me tell you. That’s why Quint’s life is so incredible.  Because it’s a reminder of God’s grace and goodness.  We don’t deserve it – but He lavishes us with His love just the same and He takes joy in us, and He loves to show up and remind us exactly Who He Is.  A loving Father and a God of details.  Every hair on your head is counted, my sweet friend.  Every single hair.  And not a sparrow falls without God knowing…how much more does He love you?

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That’s what so amazing about Quint’s life; you can so clearly see that it’s not by chance. He shouldn’t be here. Not here in America. Not here in our family. Not here physically, according to his surgeon.

But he is. And that’s anything but chance. Anything but commonplace or “good luck” or karma.

It’s Divine.

And I’m so grateful to be a part of his story. So very grateful to have the privilege of being his Mother.

So happy to count myself adopted into God’s family…plucked from the mire and lavished with Grace. 

Absolutely Divine.

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December 7, 2011

31 Days of Goodwill–Step Two

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The Four Steps of “31 Days of Goodwill” are these:

             To reach out to ~
  1. Your Neighbors
  2. Your Church Family (or local charity)
  3. Your Community/ Your State/Your Nation
  4. Your World
Step Two feels safer for me, somehow – because I do love my church family and I love my church.  So serving there feels like an easy thing to do.  But since the point of this challenge is to stretch us, I think it’s important to go out of the norm.

Do something different.  Make a difference in a new way.

And let’s face it – not everyone reading this blog attends a church and so for you, dear reader, it might be that a local charity is more your style.  Here are some ideas for both! 

Charity – Read this great article that give AWESOME tips about donating locally to charity in non-monetary ways
  • Serve at a Soup Kitchen, Shelter, or Food Bank
  • Organize a collection of coats and blankets and distribute them locally
  • Donate inexpensive clothes and toys to “Angel Tree” type causes, which help local poverty stricken families
  • Host a Rummage Sale and donate the funds to a local cause of your choice
  • Collect used books and donate to your local library, school, or shelter
  • Volunteer at a local crisis pregnancy center
Church
  • Volunteer, Volunteer, Volunteer – I can’t emphasize that one enough, because the gift of your time is invaluable in churches (where so many needs come in daily!).  Be willing to be put to work and do what is needed.  Even if that means cleaning bathrooms.
  • Bake holiday goodies for your church staff or prepare and deliver a yummy meal for lunch to show your appreciation.  Be sure to call ahead and plan that out with your church offices.  They work so hard – show them your appreciation!
  • Host a Holiday Party or "Game Night” for the Youth-group
  • Offer to write encouraging notes to those who are sick/hurting/in need/working as missionaries/or disabled
  • Offer to cook meals for those who have recently had a death in the family, given birth, or experienced illness
  • Offer to provide transportation for those in need or for events the church is hosting
  • Organize a visit with the elderly who are in convalescence – plan to chat, paint nails, play cards, or even sing or play music.  Whatever your talents are!
  • Volunteer for childcare/Sunday School during choir practice, Bible Studies, Church Services, etc. 
  • Offer to make copies, clean, prepare meals to be frozen and available in the church kitchen, make phone calls, deliver items, etc.
I'll be posting soon what we decided to do!!

What are you going to do?

December 5, 2011

What happened to Quint - Part One

Lots of e-mails, lots of questions, and so many prayers for our sweet boy.  Thank you seems to fall short – but it’s heartfelt.  We were covered by your love and concern the entire day.  And Quint’s surgery and recovery went so well.

Here is an explanation of what has been going on.  It’s long – so get your popcorn.  I wish I could reach through the screen and hug the mothers out there who have gone through this or might be facing this.  Since we’re still wading through his recovery process and post-op medication, we can’t truly tell yet what the results will be – but I can tell you, I have lots of hope, and that is carrying me right now.  Time alone will tell and I’m ready and waiting.

Quint had his tonsils and adenoids removed two weeks ago today. He also had tubes placed in his ears. Now, this is a common surgery and we didn’t have any real apprehension about it.  We had been planning this for months, as we slowly came to discover that so much of what Quint had been struggling with was tied to this surgery being successful.

Quint has been knocked down with many issues since the day we brought him home at 6 months old. For three + years, we’ve been treating symptoms. Each one, as they came up. I’m deeply regretful that I never was able to string them all together sooner. Here’s a snapshot:
  • Recurrent Ear Infections (with perforated ear drums on several occasions)
  • Chronic cold/runny nose/upper respiratory congestion and infection
  • Low appetite
  • Two episodes of severe croup
  • Irritability
  • Speech delay including the inability to say his own name correctly or count to ten
  • High gag reflex/choking reflex
  • Poor sleep patterns with inability to stay asleep/ Snoring & Sleep Apnea
  • Hyperactivity
  • Physicality and acting out
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Quint trying to discuss and understand the reason for his hospital visit

Steps we took:
  • We had to get a really thorough and well reputed ENT on board with us. We were very fortunate to find one of the very best in our area.
  • We had to go through the normal process of elimination – several hearing tests, routine physical, blood work, exams, radiology reports and x-rays, etc.
  • We had to wait for various insurance related issues to be resolved and for new coverage to begin in October
  • We started Quint with a wonderful speech therapist twice a week
  • When the results were in, we pursued getting this surgery with dogged PERSISTENCE – bottom line. We held on for dear life and pushed for the procedures 100%. You have got to be determined. No question.
This is not a comprehensive list – but it gives you a picture of what we’ve been struggling with. I read that list, and I’m so sad. Quint is such a wonderful and loving boy – and he truly lights up a room. But these struggles have compounded a feeling of dread we’ve had and have propelled us down many different paths to seek answers. Some of those answers never rang true with us – and we continued to search. Some resonated like a clanging cymbal. Those were the ones we followed after.

Namely, we were looking behaviorally first. And I want to say this to the mom’s out there who might have read that list and said “oh wait…that sounds like _______”.  We spent the past three years treating symptoms – and by that I mean: Quint would get a cold that would roll into an infection. We’d take him to the doc, he’d be treated with antibiotics, he’d improve, we’d move on. Quint would choke on a meal, we’d make sure he was fine – we’d move on. Quint would not sleep normally – we made exceptions and said “he just doesn’t need as much sleep”. He was hyper and bouncing off the walls constantly and we said “he’s a boy!” He was snoring, we said “he’s like his Daddy” (wink). He didn’t eat a lot – we said “he must be in-between growth spurts”.  Sometimes he ate more than we did – we decided that he was growing.  When he was irritable and short-tempered, we said “terrible two’s”….”terrible three’s”…. You get the picture. It all seemed situational. But the reality is, they were all tied together.  I’ll show you what we learned over the past few months; 

Recurrent Ear Infections (with perforated ear drums on several occasions) – 70% damage to Quint’s eardrums at infancy due to untreated ear infections and perforation in Ethiopia (and recurrent).  His hearing was terrible.  Our ENT equated it with being at 35,000 feet your entire life and also “being under water”.  He guessed that Quint had never heard a solid consonant sound since infancy.  This = Speech Delay. Irritability.  Not being able to communicate properly.  

Chronic cold/runny nose/upper respiratory congestion and infection – Quint’s tonsils and adenoids were abnormally large.  The tonsils were so large they were touching and almost blocking the airway.  The adenoids were so large they had completely cut off the airway through the nose and were growing down into the mouth airway (which explains why at 4, he could never blow his nose) .  The ENT had never seen anything like this in his entire career.  The blockage was so bad between the adenoids and tonsils, that he stood with us after surgery shaking his head and saying repeatedly “I don’t know how he was breathing…it’s just unreal that he’s OK…he shouldn’t have been able to breathe with that situation in his nose and throat.  I don’t have any idea how he was doing it.”  Quint's adenoids and tonsils were so large that barely any fluid, once retained from a cold or virus, could drain properly.  This pushed the fluid out through the ears and caused serious buildup, often causing the weakened eardrums to re-perforate.  He maintained infections and also a strange yeast that had grown over his tonsils and adenoids causing him to stay sick for long periods, even with heavy anti-biotic treatments.  His ears retained fluid most likely at all times.  

Low appetite - Because his tonsils were so large, he could not swallow properly and resisted any kinds of meats or heavy items.  Also, chewing and swallowing often came at the expense of breathing, since his nasal airway was closed off.  Think of what a chore eating is when you can’t breathe through your nose – it’s tiring because you’re constantly having to stop to breathe through your mouth.  Makes more sense to keep eating minimal amounts as to be done quicker.  

Two episodes of severe croup – with a tiny airway through his mouth only, and croup – which is an infection of the throat, this caused Quint’s severe reaction and trip to the ER via ambulance.  He literally could not breathe.  What little airway he had, was being closed.  Our ENT was quick to point out that one episode in the coming months of Strep Throat could have been fatal for Quint.  His airway simply could not have handled any swelling.  Of course our reaction was to be completely overwhelmed followed by complete gratefulness that we were finally in good hands and getting help. 

Irritability – Struggling with being sick all the time, not being able to hear/breathe/sleep well or communicate properly – would you be anything but irritable?  Me neither. 

Speech delay including the inability to say his own name correctly or count to ten - Poor baby has never heard properly since infancy.  How could he say the “Q” sound?  He’s been under water! 

High gag reflex/choking reflex - With tonsils so large they were touching, it’s no wonder he constantly choked on food and drinks. 

Poor sleep patterns with inability to stay asleep/ Snoring & Sleep Apnea – Difficulty with his air passages caused snoring, which caused sleep apnea.  His ENT guessed that Quint had never (as in, ever) hit REM sleep patterns his entire life.  He is exhausted. 

Hyperactivity - right along the lines of exhaustion – the child who does not sleep, tends to be hyperactive while awake.  This is the body’s way of overcompensating for being tired.  When you’re up – you’re UP.  When you’re down – you’re out.  This was very true for Quint.  He would wake up running circles around the rest of us – but the minute he was restrained in his car seat, he would crash.  Their body over-compensates when they are awake, so they go-go-go and when they are forced to sit still, they completely shut down and fall asleep.  Quint. to. a .T. 

Physicality and acting out – Quint’s physicality (overt) and aggression has been tied back to his inability to communicate well.  Which ties back to his ears.  Which ties back to his inability to drain mucus properly.  Which goes directly to his tonsils and adenoids being too large and needing to come out.

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Post-op hospital rest with Captain America

So there it is.  Several times we were told “it’s amazing he’s ok”, “we don’t know how he was breathing”, “he’s an amazing boy”, “he shouldn’t be here…” Nobody knew or realized how bad off Quint was until the surgery was underway.  We didn’t know.  His pediatrician didn’t know.  His ENT didn’t even realize it.  Then it became clear all that he had been up against, and a routine surgery went out the window.  The surgeon said to me with a great sigh, “when I got in there and saw what he had been fighting his whole life, I realized this could have gone south very fast for him…and all I can tell you is that he’s amazing…he just is”. We might be biased, but we tend to agree.  Yes, indeed.


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Back at home, 12 hours post-op.  AMAZING recovery.  AMAZING boy.


More to come about how I’m feeling post-op.

December 3, 2011

31 Days of Goodwill–Step One

31 Days of Goodwill

The Four Steps of “31 Days of Goodwill” are these:

To reach out to ~
  1. Your Neighbors
  2. Your Church Family (or local charity)
  3. Your Community/ Your State/Your Nation
  4. Your World

You could change those up – you could modify them. You could do any number of things.

Our first goal is to reach out to our neighbors this month.  This is a bit hard, because to be honest (and I’m ashamed to admit it) we don’t know our neighbors.  I think we know maybe a handful of names – like 5.  We’ve maybe had a few conversations over almost 8 years.  That’s pitiful, people.  We wave.  We smile.  We say “hi” across the street.  But I couldn’t tell you a personal fact about any of them.  That really bugs me – and yet, I’ve done nothing about it.  And I’ve had 8 years.  So this is NOT a preachy post about “look what we’ve done”.  This is a “physician, heal thyself” post.  Ya feel me?

The thing is, we’ve lost a sense of community, I think.  We just keep our heads down and go about our business.  We see these people almost every day.  Every day, folks.  That is pitiful.  Wouldn’t it be so much better to be connected?  Isn’t that what so many of us say we’re missing in our lives?  I sometimes feel like an island over here.  I have my family.  My church.  My friends.  And sometimes I feel overwhelmed at the concept of adding more to that.  Of extending myself beyond that.  And that right there, is why this is a challenge. 

Ideas for reaching out to your neighbors:
  • Deliver homemade gifts to your neighbors or take your children caroling.
  • Host a neighborhood holiday party on your street.   Coordinate a “Potluck” night, a Wine/Cheese tasting party, a White Elephant party, or a Fondue Party
  • Host a playgroup with other stay at home parents.  
  • Invite the neighbors over to watch a football game
  • Invite those without nearby family over for a holiday meal (for example: singles, internationals, divorced or widowed).
  • Invite neighborhood kids over for a December Book Club and be sure to have lots of cookies and Hot Chocolate
  • Offer to host a weekly discussion group, book review or Bible Study

You’ll notice almost all of these involve us stepping out of our comfort zone in a big way.  At least for me.  Life is too short.  Go out there an invite your neighbor over.  The worst they will say is “no, thank you”.  And most people are too polite for that.  But the challenge is getting out there and asking. 

Gulp.

What are your ideas?  What would you appreciate as a neighbor?

December 2, 2011

Just Remembering

…that it was two years ago today that it was snowing outside.  We had our home decorated for Christmas.  Quint had just turned two years old and was napping.  And I sat here – in this exact spot…nervous, anxious, excited.  After being logged in the system to adopt from China for 3 years, 8 months, and 3 days…we were down to minutes until we would finally see her face, find out who she was, where she was, and when we could go get her.  It was surreal in every way.

You can re-live those anxious and very happy posts


and 


and – save the best for last

(this last link includes a video that shares our first moments seeing Keira’s face for the first time and I do have to warn you – it apparently causes tears.  It did for me, I just watched it again!)

She was absolutely spectacular…and worth every bit of those 3 years, 8 months, and 3 days. 
Worth that and so much more.  Worth a lifetime of waiting if that’s what it would have taken.


Keira Joy - 1

Keira Joy - 2



And I can tell you firsthand, she is even more spectacular today.

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Simply breathtaking…


December 1, 2011

31 Days of Goodwill–December’s Challenge

31 Days of Goodwill

December’s challenge is here, and I’ll be the first to say that it feels like September just ended.  How December crept right on up and stole the spotlight, I’ll never know – but it’s time to get focused, because I’d really like to make this one count:

Here’s your RE-CAP and you can sign up below with Mr. Linky.  Just remember that you can motivate others – (chain reaction, my people!)  – to do the same.  Blogging about your own thoughts and accomplishments with these monthly challenges really does encourage others – so don’t be afraid!  I for one love seeing how others are tackling these challenges!

December’s Challenge is a tricky one. For this month, our family will be finding FOUR WAYS to show GOODWILL that will impact 1. our neighbors, 2. our community, 3. our church, 4. our world. Let me explain.  

First, I’ll start by telling you that I LOVE {love} LOVE Christmas. Always have. Probably always will. But there is a big difference in the way Anton would prefer to celebrate and the way I would prefer to celebrate. I would like all of the nostalgia; perfect tree, carols and eggnog with dear friends, stocking hung by the chimney with care, plate of cookies for Santa with a side of carrot for the reindeer, snow on Christmas morning, too many presents, lots of family, and spiral cut ham falling off the bone by 4pm. He would prefer quiet, contemplative reflection about what our Savior came to do. (ouch) So we have spent many Christmases (twelve to be exact) bantering gently about our positions on Christmas. And we’ve always compromised for a little bit of my style and a little bit of his. Except…
 
Except it’s starting to get to me a little bit. For starters, Christmas d├ęcor is up in stores by Halloween. That’s just pitiful – even to this diehard Christmas fan. It reeks of money, doesn’t it? Second, I felt a little bit convicted last year when my kids were buried neck high in wrapping paper and bows and ribbons, and were far too cranky and overwhelmed to enjoy an ounce of what they had received. Reeks of consumerism, doesn’t it? Third, I think it’s been happening to me for a while now that I lose sight of this every year. I go into December saying “I’m not doing that this year…we’re toning it down” and yet somehow Christmas Eve arrives with a bit of a chagrin from both of us – it’s happened again. We I went overboard. Reeks of “self”, doesn’t it? We rush through the season – head to parties – see relatives – over shop – over eat – over indulge…and then it’s over. And sometimes we have missed the whole point.
 
So all I’m saying, is I’m taking four baby-steps back to the meaning of Christmas – which for our family is all about a wonderful gift that had no bow, no wrapping, but cost more than money could ever purchase. The birth, life, love and forgiveness of a perfect lamb…Jesus. 
 
Now, I realize, that may not be your personal conviction – but it certainly lends me to want more out of Christmas for my kids than a frenzy of desire, followed by inevitable meltdowns. No, I want more for them. I want more for us. Does this mean we won’t decorate a tree or hang a stocking or sip eggnog? No. However, this does mean that this year we are going to find FOUR WAYS to spread GOODWILL and try to reconnect to our fellow man – our neighbors, our community, our church family, and yes – even to our world. Each act will take a different form, and I’m not sure what that will look like – it could be caroling to our neighbors and delivering cookies, serving food at the local shelter, volunteering in Children’s church, and sponsoring an orphanage in Africa. I don’t know. But I have hope that with each act, we will have a little part of restoring the brotherhood of mankind…just enough to wet our heart for more.
 
HERE WE GO!