Monday, January 31, 2011

SaraGrace Update

Sweet baby girl had a quiet day today. She was in a lot of pain so they had to pump the pain meds, which made her sleepy. Later in the day, they changed them to one that makes her less sleepy and she perked up quite a bit. I was able to get her up walking tonight. She was quite resistant to the idea but once she was up, she was willing to walk down the hall a bit. She was very proud of herself and so was I.

Her biggest issue tonight was the return of the nasty cough she had last week. She had a bad coughing episode tonight and was crying pitifully. I vividly remember how much it hurt to cough, sneeze or laugh after my appendectomy and I honestly cannot even imagine how bad it must have hurt her to be coughing so hard tonight. Ugh.

I asked about cough medicine but they won't give her any because they want her lungs to be clear. Makes sense but certainly no fun for SaraGrace.

Jeff brought the three oldest girls up to visit tonight and to bring more supplies since we will most likely be staying for five days. He made it through a day at home with all the kids. Yay...he's da man.

We are on the cardiac floor and I am not supposed to have my cell phone on. So if you call, I will probably not answer, but if possible, I will go to a designated area to call you back. I cannot tell you how much all of your emails have encouraged us! Thank you so much for praying! And thank you for emailing and letting us know you are praying! We are doing very well and I'm sure it's because of all the prayer.

SaraGrace's cardiologist came in this morning just shaking his head. He is so nice and felt very bad for SaraGrace. He pointed out that two of the three times SaraGrace or Kate have been admitted here it has been for non-heart related issues. ha. What can we say? We are that family.

They have told us that SaraGrace will need 10 days of IV antibiotics. I think I told you that already. sleep-deprived brain is working very s-l-o-w-l-y.
{I say that as if it is an abnormal thing.}
Anyway...they are going to put in a Picc line tomorrow (aka central line) so that they can train me to administer the meds at home. They say that they will keep her here for the first 5 days and then if she is doing well enough, we can take her home for the last 5 days of meds.

I have always wanted to be a nurse, so I am kinda stoked about learning to flush lines and administer her meds. I know. I am so very weird.

And please do not worry about us. Although sleeping in the hospital is not my favorite thing on earth, if I get enough sleep, I can deal with the hospital thing fairly well {unless we get a roommate and then you might see me lose it completely}. God gave us the ability to do the hospital thing and it's really okay. I'm just so thankful for modern medicine--even when they do stupid things like test a child for constipation when she clearly has an appendicitis...and tell us her white count isn't high enough to be appendicitis and sends us to the bathroom to 'poop.'...and then the child strains so hard for 10 minutes that it's probably where her appendix ruptured...but I'm not bitter, just sharin' my testimony. haha
Ahhh..yes...I'm letting it go. People make mistakes. Just had to complain a bit. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

Because, you know, I just hate it when people don't listen to me when I'm right.

Our prayer requests are:
For Jeff--that he would not be driven slowly mad and would be able to work out some babysitting so he can go into the office for some of the time this week. We are getting hit by the big winter storm that is hitting half the country, so I think Wed. will be a stay at home day for everyone in the city. Again...much potential for Jeff to be driven slowly mad.

For SaraGrace--that God would heal her cough so that she is not coughing at all...and no complications from the ruptured appendix.

For me--that I would get enough sleep at night and that we would not get a roommate.
{because I would really not like for ya'll to see how infantile I really can be about sharing a room with a stranger}
Waking up with IV's in both hands.

Jillian brought SaraGrace's homework tonight and helped her with it. She is a natural teacher.

Took over feeding the jello too.

SaraGrace tried to hold the pencil but it was impossible for her to write, so she told Jillian the answers and Jillian wrote them for her. So cute.

Mom and Dad comforting her during her coughing episode
{photo courtesy of Molly}

Sisters are the BEST!!! Thank you, God, for sisters!

SaraGrace's Abdominal Misadventure

Poor SaraGrace got a tummy ache Saturday night and was moaning and crying. I originally thought it was from the ibuprofen I had been giving her for her fever and cough she had all week. I was tired, impatient and just wanted the kids to go to sleep. When the kids are sick, we sometimes let them sleep in our room (we have a little room off of ours, but it's still our room). She was lying in there and continued to cry and moan, making sleep impossible for all of us. Being the nice mommy, I got annoyed. After trying to help her feel better with no success, finally at 1AM, I lost patience. I truly thought it was just some SaraGrace drama. I ended up moving her back to her own room. Then at 1:30 she and Jake were both crying...but he was burning up. I was trying to deal with him because he has febrile seizures when he gets fevers and I didn't want that to get started. So I rubbed SaraGrace's tummy and covered her up and told her to try to go to sleep. Sunday morning, Jeff told me that he had been up in the night with her and that she was really sick.

Oh the guilt.

I went and checked on her and she definitely seemed to be sick with more than just a flu bug (she had thrown up a few times). Jeff and I both started to wonder about an appendicitis. Of all weeks, I was supposed to teach Sunday school and I didn't want call and cancel at the last minute so I went to church while Jeff stayed home with SaraGrace and all the other sickies.

As I was leaving church, my phone rang with the news that Jeff had taken her to the local hospital. I sped through a drive-thru to get lunch for everyone, dropped the kids at home and raced to the hospital. Poor SaraGrace was lying in bed in tears. She still hadn't been given an IV or any pain meds. They had just ruled out a bladder infection and said she needed an ultrasound to see if it was her appendix. However, there wasn't anyone at the hospital who could do an ultrasound for appendix's so what to do? They decided they would do a cat scan and wanted to give her the dye to drink, telling us it would take two hours to work its way into her system and then they would do the scan.


Jeff had told them she had a heart condition but I'm not sure the doctor understood completely because he insisted that they could do the surgery there if she needed it. I knew that because of her heart, there was no way it could be done there and that she was going to need transfer to Children's. Thus began the battle to get her moved.

I explained to the doctor that she didn't just have a small hole or minor heart condition. She has tetrology of falot and pulmonary atresia. Ohhhhh....the light started to dawn and he paused. I handed him our cardiologist's business card and he disappeared down the hall to make some phone calls. Thank goodness! {Using medical terminology gives parents more credibility, apparently.}

In the meantime, I could tell by SaraGrace's pain and the way she responded when moved that she had an appendicitis. The memories of my own appendectomy two years ago are still fresh in my mind. From there began the saga of Mama knowing what was wrong and having to wait for the doctors to do all the 'necessary' tests to come to the same conclusion. I'm glad I didn't know how long it was going to take for them to reach a diagnosis because I was already feeling a little desperate to get her into surgery before it ruptured.

They finally got an IV in her and gave her some morphine. They arranged to transfer us via ambulance to Children's hospital, so off we went.

Four hours later....

They finally diagnosed her with appendicitis.

I was so frustrated because the doctor put her through an unnecessary x-ray for constipation and asked her to try to 'go poop.' The poor kid had to strain and push with her side in so much pain. {Any of you who have had an appendicitis will appreciate how much that hurt. ARGH. I was holding her abdomen, trying to help, but she was still really hurting, in spite of pain meds.}

The ultrasound tech told me it looked like her appendix was enlarged and then the radiologist came in to look again. He told me that it was ruptured.

Heavy sigh...

I was later told that they weren't overly concerned about a rupture because we had brought her in so early on...that most kids don't rupture until the second day and she was still under the 24 hour mark.

I guess I should have told them that SaraGrace never does anything the way everyone else does it.

Much discussion ensued over the next few hours as they tried to determine the best course of action. The surgeon wanted to take her into surgery but the cardiology fellow on duty wanted to just give antibiotics until more heart tests could be run to ensure that she could tolerate anesthesia. I was quite uncomfortable with that plan--as was Jeff. SaraGrace gets antibiotics just to go to the dentist because of bacteria in her mouth, I couldn't imagine that it would be a good idea to let ruptured appendix bacteria go coursing through her body.

Thankfully, an hour or so later, the senior cardiologist wanted her to have the surgery. Jeff had to go home because he had the older girls with him when he brought my suitcase to me, so he wasn't able to be here during her surgery. Thankfully, all went well and she came out of surgery around midnight and I was able to see her a half hour later. We were in our room by around 2AM and SaraGrace slept peacefully all night.

She will need IV antibiotics for about 10 days due to the rupture, but they are talking about putting in a pic line so that she can go home and I can give them to her. We are not sure how long they will keep her here. I've been told 5-6 days, but I have a feeling it won't be that long. We shall see...

We are so grateful for everyone's prayers. I posted on Facebook that she was having surgery and it was so comforting reading everyone's messages. I read a lot of them to SaraGrace and really seemed to like that.
In the emergency room at hospital number one.

Strapped in for the ambulance ride

My brave baby girl

Sleeping during the ride, thanks to pain medication

*Note to time Kate or SaraGrace need to go to the hospital, take them directly to Children's.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Please pray for SaraGrace...she is in surgery right now for an appendicitis.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Let it {not} Snow!

Last night we got another foot of snow.

We already had two feet on the ground, so if you are really good at math you will have already figured out that we now have three feet.

School was cancelled and it wasn't long before the kids asked to go out and play in the snow.
I tried to warn them.
The little kids could barely move in two feet of snow last week but now they wanted to try three.

Thankfully, when they step down into the snow, they don't sink all the way down to the ground. The snow does pack down and keeps them up. Somewhat.

But when you have three feet of snow and you're only three feet tall, there is bound to be a problem.
Jake tries to walk up the hill in our back yard.

Is it me or is the snow up to his thigh?

Does this struggle look like fun?

Uhhhh.....starting to falter

He laid there like a slug, gathering the strength to push on.

Must. Get. Up. Must. Get. Up.

"I should have listened to my mom and stayed indoors today."

Zoey found that crawling was a bit better since you don't sink as far if you fan yourself out.

"Hmmmm...this idea seems to have been badly executed.

OK, ya'll...this is nuts! I know it's hard to see but our deck chairs are covered in snow past the seats!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Zoey's "Pros-other" Leg

Today was the big day! Woohoo!! It almost wasn't. Chloe stayed home from school sick and I wasn't sure we were going to be able to make the trip. However...faced with an oncoming snowstorm and the feeling that we are on the verge of a house full of sick kids, I decided to go.

I'm so glad I did.

Zoey is now in possession of her "pros-other" leg! It only needed a few minor adjustments and she was good to go.
Our first it!! It is stylin'!

Try it on, Zoey!

Getting it checked out.

Her first steps

"Oh Mommy, you are always taking my picture."

Close up view.

We are very happy with the choice to go for the fun print. It looks wonderful and the dark color will hide the dings and scratches that she will get on it.
{Knowing Zoey...there will be many!}
We also won't have to worry about it not tanning with the rest of her body in the summer.
NOT riding home in the wheelchair today! Hooray!

We are now going to hunker down with the sick kids--Chloe and SaraGrace both have fevers and Kate looks like she is coming down with whatever it is. It's snowing and we are supposed to get almost another foot of snow! We currently have about 2 feet already, so I'm wondering where the road crews are going to put it? So many of the roads here have no shoulders so they are getting narrower and narrower. The kids and I are all hoping for a snow day tomorrow and our chances are looking pretty good.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

What Now?

This post is so late...oh well...

We went to Shriners on Wed. so that Zoey could give her leg back and have them do the finish work on it.

She had to do lots and lots of walking so that the prosthetist could make the necessary adjustments. He let her walk near the playroom so that Jake and Kate could play because it was a rather lengthy process. Poor Zoey....she is all about playing. Walking back and forth was so NOT what she wanted to be doing. She kept getting distracted and staring at what her siblings were doing. Finally he just had to give her a break and let her play for 20 minutes to get it out of her system.

I looked over at Jake and saw this:

Dude...your shoes are on the wrong feet AGAIN!

Leaving the hospital--back in the wheelchair again--drat!

When we got home, she laid on the kitchen floor and wailed, "I don't wanna hop again. Hopping boring."

Bless her heart.

She was soon up and hopping though because, well....she doesn't have a choice unless she is going to be stuck sitting in one place.

She is counting the days until next Wednesday when she can go back and get her leg.

I have shared before about the adorable little girl we saw there who had double prosthetic legs. She hasn't been there the past few times, but there is another child--a little boy--who has. He, too, has double prosthetics and is from China.

I have wondered about him because he has many scars on his body.

Last week, I heard the stories of both children. And ya' is breaking my heart.

I met a man there who has a charity that provides prosthetics for children in China. Their website is, if you want to check them out.

He told me that Handreach had brought some children here--and guess what? Both of the children we have met have been brought here by them.

The little girl, FeiFei, was left on the railroad tracks by her grandfather when she was a baby. The train ran over her legs.
She is now four. She is absolutely precious with a smile that lights up a room. It took about five seconds for me to be enchanted by her the first time I saw her. The website story is that the grandfather must have been mentally ill to do such a thing but I'm not so sure. I'll leave it at that.

The little boy--I would guess to be about eight. He is usually fairly somber when I see him, but on Wednesday, I saw the staff surround him, encouraging him and then I saw him laugh! A little while later, I watched with tears in my eyes as he tried to walk without his crutches. He wobbled forward and fell. Struggled to his feet...wobbled forward bravely...and fell again.

Our names were called just then and we had to leave the area so I don't know how long Min practiced on his new legs. But I know he will persevere and win.

This little guy's story is just as heartbreaking.
He was the pride of his parents--the popular boy in his village. A jealous neighbor lured him into her house, tied him up, put him upside down in a pit and set him on fire.

He lost his legs, his fingers and has severe burns on the rest of his body. Mercifully, his face was spared but he has patches of skin on the back of his head where no hair grows.

These two precious children are just two of many. The man I talked to said his assistant lived in China for awhile and has story after story that would break your heart. There are a lot of accidental burn cases because some families still use alternative fuel sources to heat their homes.

Many of the children end up being orphaned because the family cannot pay the medical bills. They abandon the child in hopes that the government will provide the medical care that the child needs.

The children then go to an orphanage and some of them are available for adoption.

So who will go?

Is there room in your heart for a child who needs a family?

Could you be the one to provide healing, hope and a future? They have no future in China with those types of medical needs. But here...oh my goodness...they have a chance at a normal life!

On Wed, we saw an older Asian guy in his late teens getting his prosthetic legs adjusted. He walked PERFECTLY. I was amazed at how perfect his gait was. He was there with his adoptive mother. And he wore a shirt that said he started his mornings with God and coffee.

How different his life would be if he had not been adopted.
Would he know that Jesus loves him? We have seen beggars with no legs on the streets in China. Would that have been his fate?

We are the hands and feet of Jesus, are we not? What are we going to do about this need we see?

There are currently over 2000 Chinese children on a waiting child list for adoption. They are waiting for someone to care. Waiting for it to be 'affordable.' Waiting for it to be 'convenient, easy.' Waiting for someone to come for them.

Could that be you?
Some of them are listed here:

Steven Curtis Chapman has a song called "What Now?" that I will leave you with...

I saw the face of Jesus in a little orphan girl
She was standing in the corner on the other side of the world
And I heard the voice of Jesus gently whisper to my heart
Didn't you say that you wanted to find Me?
Well here I am, here you are

So, What now?
What will you do now that you've found Me?
What now?
What will you do with this treasure you've found?
I know I may not look like what you expected
But if you remember this is right where I said I would be
You've found Me
What now?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A New Daughter...

Sorry...I just couldn't resist keeping you in suspense--but some of you are just too smart for your own good.

Or maybe just sneaky.

Or snoopy.


OK...the big announcement is that Ryan is getting married! He is marrying a young lady that he met when we lived in Michigan. Since they were 'just friends' then, we never met her.

Until last weekend.

She is a sweetheart and we had a wonderful time!

We picked her up at the airport and she was all smiles as we hugged and introduced ourselves. I think she was very brave to fly out to see her future in-laws all by herself. I'm not sure I would have had the courage to do the same.

Danielle came prepared with all things hair related--and put some beautiful French braids in the girls' hair.

The following morning, we Skyped with Ryan.

First 'engagement photo?' heh

None of our girls have ever been to a wedding. We went wedding shopping on Saturday to try on dresses and took the four oldest girls along. It was so stinkin' cute to watch their eyes boggle. SaraGrace, Miss Dramatic-loves-to-dress-up-like-a-princess, was in heaven.

Jillian is going to be a junior bridesmaid and Chloe is the flower girl, so they had to try on 'official' wedding attire. Too fun! Molly and SaraGrace are going to pass out programs and get to wear pretty dresses too. We had them try some on for fun.

Staring at the bride next to us while Dani was in the dressing room. So funny to watch them stare and admire.

SaraGrace sees Danielle's dress for the first time.

Lookin' good, girl!

Dani wanted this shot and said it was okay to post since very little wedding gown is showing.

Hugs for the flower girl who got very shy about modeling dresses.

Chloe is Ryan's little buddy and she wasn't too sure how she felt about him getting a new favorite girl in his life. She decided that Danielle was pretty wonderful and that Ryan has room in his heart for both of them.

Sunday, we took Dani to church and introduced her to our friends. We spent the afternoon printing out wedding invitations and pouring over bridal magazines for ideas.

The kids mauled her incessantly and she took it all in stride. She handled the chaos, the noise, and the constant fighting over who would hold her hand or sit on her lap.

Baptized by fire, I would say.

She fit right in and I am so thankful that God has sent such a wonderful young lady into our family.

Welcome to our crazy, loud family, Dani! We love you!
{The wedding is planned for July, when Ryan comes home from Korea.}

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

An Exciting Announcement...

I think I must just drag this out for a day or so...

But we had a visitor over the weekend.

Here are some hints:

The visitor was a she.

She is loved tremendously by us.

And she will be part of our family soon.

Here are a few photos to spur on your guessing: