Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Could This Be Your Daughter?

This is Kathy, she just turned 5 in December. Kathy lives at the Philip Hayden Foundation (PHF). Kathy has post operative heart disease, but still needs another surgery...A surgery she cannot get in China.

You can find out more about her by contacting Bay Area Adoption Agency (BAAS). The waiting child coordinator is Xiaoqing Cai (xqcai@comcast.net). She will gladly answer any and all questions about Kathy.

Please spread the word about Kathy...Thank you!

One More Day

Tomorrow is THE day. Mylee finally gets her casts off tomorrow. She has been in this set of casts for 3 weeks, but a total of 6 weeks in casts all together. That doesn't even count the 8 weeks of casts she was in last summer.

We are ALL very excited that she is finally getting the casts off. I think Matt and I are more excited about the fact that she will finally be able to shower. The whole sponge bath thing is getting kind of old and not to mention the stench that is coming from her feet.

Mylee has been a trooper through all of this. In the ten months that she has been with us she has had x-rays, an MRI (sedated), a total of ten sets of cats, physical therapy, and surgery. And lets not forget that she was taken from the only place she has ever known, flown half way around the world, and then had to endure all of this. But through it all, she has completely amazed us at how she lets nothing get her down, or in her way. She has tackled every obstacle with a brave spirit and her beautiful smile. She continues to blossom before our very eyes.

Below are a few pictures I took of Mylee the other day playing in our backyard. She so desperately wanted to go out and play with the other kids, so Matt put a pair of Emma's shoes on her and off she went. She did everything from swing, play baseball, climb up the rock wall, and anything else she saw the other kids doing. There is also a video from this morning of her talking about getting her casts off tomorrow.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Park in Pictures

"Uh, I'm not too sure about this."

"Never mind, I got it."

"Look at me!"

Unfortunately, this is the ONLY picture I got of Emma.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Doodle for Google

GOOGLE is having a competition for school age children to create a message using the GOOGLE logo. This years theme is I wish for... Blake's graphic arts class (which he loves) was given an assignment to create a logo for the competition. They worked on it all last week and had to have it turned in by Friday so the teachers could vote to decide who would get to go on to regionals.

Blake came home yesterday all excited because his logo was one of 5 or 6 that was chosen out of the whole school. We are so proud and excited for him. Since the theme was I wish for..., Blake decided that his wish was going to be that all children have the opportunity for an education. I am sure his grandparents are beaming right now (they are both in education). So, he designed his logo using rulers, pencils, and other school related items. But, the coolest part (to me) was that he replaced one of the O's in Google with an apple that looked like it had the world on it. It is really cool and even if he doesn't go on to the next level, we are so proud of him for coming up with this idea.

Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of his final entry (he was only able to show us a black and white copy), but you can go here to learn more about "DOODLE for GOOGLE."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Look Who's Walking

We had a pretty low key relaxing weekend. Friday we had out traditional cheese pizza (for lent) and did not do much of nothin. Miss Mylee decided she had had enough of being carried around everywhere so as she stood up and simply took off. Yes, she is walking in her casts. The first few minutes I think she was pretty surprised that she was actually walking because she kept laughing so hard she was falling over. Once she got the hang of it though, she was good to go. As a matter of fact, we were in T*arget this afternoon with some friends and she decided she wanted to get out of the cart and walk. Luckily we were in the clothing department which is carpeted. So, we got her out of the cart and she was happy as a clam to be down walking around. And of course, she was quite the spectacle walking around the store in her bright pink casts.

Saturday, I was asked by my sister-in-law Julie to go with her and my MIL to look at wedding dresses. She is getting married this July in Puerta Vallarta Mexico. She has always talked about getting married on the beach. I so wish we were able to go, but with four kids and Matt's job being so uncertain right now, we just decided that now is not the best time for a vacation. They will definitely be in our thoughts and prayers that week. Anyway, back to the dress. She had an idea of what she wanted, simple, light weight (they are getting married on the beach), and something a little below the knee. I think she tried on maybe six or seven dresses before she found THE one. It is really beautiful and she looks stunning in it. It fits her like a glove which means she doesn't have to go in for any alterations (so not fair). It ended up being a one stop shopping trip as she was also able to find her shoes, jewelry and hair pieces.
After getting all of that taken care of we went to the Olive G*arden for lunch. It has been so long since Julie, my mother-in-law and myself have had a girl's day, it was way overdue. Unfortunately I have no pictures of the day because I forgot, yes. forgot my camera.

Sunday, a family friend and I took our two oldest shopping for some much needed spring/summer clothes. One of the stores that they both like shopping at was having an additional 30% off everything sale. Now that it is starting to get warmer, Blake is need of everything, shorts, shirts, and as always jeans. I cannot believe how tall he is. I really think that by the end of the summer (maybe even the school year) he will be looking me straight in the eyes and I am 5'7. He is huge. Anyway, the shopping trip was successful, probably too successful. The good thing is is that he is good on clothes for awhile.

After that, we came home and got a few things done around the house before the kids had to go to religion class. Even though it sounds like it was a busy weekend, for us it was actually kind of relaxing. Matt and I were also able to get a few things squared away regarding our anniversary gift to each other. Sorry, I still am unable to share, but soon, I promise. I am so not good at keeping things, so this is really hard for me.

Have a good week and enjoy the video below of Mylee walking. Don't forget to turn off the music playing on the blog.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Hope and Inspiration

I recently came across New Day's Foster Home and have been amazed at what they are able to do for special needs children. It is absolutely amazing. New Day is a foster home to special needs children in Beijing China. Some of the kids they have stay right there at New Day and then some of them go home with a foster family everyday and go back to New Day Monday -Friday for half a day pre-school. The facility is run by both Chinese and Americans. New Day not only provides these children with life saving surgeries and medical treatment, they also provide love, comfort, support along with the feeling of belonging to a family as they wait for their forever families.
I have completely submerged myself with their web-site as well as their blog. While looking around this morning, I stumbled across this video that was put together by New Day and shown at a Church. It brought tears to my eyes knowing that they are giving these kids hope. They are providing these children with (despite their medical issues) with experiences like no other.

Make sure you turn off the blog music before pressing play.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Red Thread Story Like No Other

Since embarking on our journey to Mylee, I have been overwhelmed and amazed by how God has His hands in all of our adoption stories. Each and every adoption has it's own story, but in the end, they all lead back to how He makes dreams come true.
I love reading and following blogs of fellow adoptees and am beginning to wonder if there is some type of "bug" going around. There are ALOT of announcements being made in the adoption world right now, but I just finished reading the most amazing red thread story ever. Nicole over at Baker's Sweets who like us as a child from Nanjing just announced that they are adding a daughter to their family. Let me tell you, she is a beauty. Nicole's story is evidence that that with faith, anything is possible. Once again, He has done the unthinkable. God is SO good.

Please take a few minutes to go over to Nicole's blog to see how He has performed another miracle.

Here are a few couple other bloggers who are headed back east to add to their families.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"Top of the Morning to Ya"


Amazingly we were ahead of shcedule this morning so I took the opportunity to take a few pics of the kids since I have not posted any of all four of them in awhile. Other than the fact that it is a bit out of focus, I think they did pretty well for as early as it was. Blake and Emma were excited to go to school sporting their green for the day. Gabe keeps asking if he can take off his shirt because everyone keeps kissing him (mostly me) because his shirt says "Kiss me I'm Irish." I told him if he took it off everyone would pinch him instead of kiss him. This was his response "What! I don't want kisses or pinched, can you just stop." Poor Gabe. I have let up on the kissing and for now he is still wearing the shirt.

On another note, Matt went back to work yesterday! WooHoo! He is not sure how long he will be back. He was told it would be for at least 3 weeks, we are just praying that things turn around and he continues working.

Blake decided to go out for track this year. Being in the sixth grade, this is the only sport he can do for school. I was a bit surprised when he said he wanted to do track, but excited that he would be getting some exercise. He was so excited that not only did he make the team, but he is on Varsity. He is going to do sprints, and a couple of other things (I can't remember the others).

Yesterday was a beautiful day and the kids were finally able to go out in the afternoon and play in the backyard. I don't know who was more excited, me or them. Today it is supposed to be 70 degrees, so guess where they will be once it warms up. Unfortunately, the warm weather isn't going to last long, the rest of the week is going to be back in the 40's. Gotta love the Indiana weather.

Finally, the much anticipated pictures of Mylee's shoes. As you can see from the below picture they were pretty unappealing for a little girl. Before I even left the hospital I had BIG plans for these shoes...

Here is the finished product. Mylee LOVES them and kept asking for her pretty shoes this morning. Matt and the kids taught her to say "Mommy bedazzled my shoes." She was pretty excited to show them off. Between Emma's St. Patricks Day shirt that I made and Mylee's shoes, yesterday was a pretty successful craft day. When I was out Saturday getting the supplies to make the shirt and shoes, I also purchased a few other craft items. I am hoping to get a few more spring outfits done for the girls in the next couple of weeks. Let me know what y'all think of the shoes.

Talk about some BLING!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mylee's Update

Mylee went back to Riley Children's Hospital Friday. I had hoped to get the update on here last night, but by the time we got home we were so tired from such a long day. Let me start at the beginning. We had to be at the hospital by 6:00 a.m. so Matt stayed home with the other kids to get them off to school. Mylee, myself, and a good friend of mine (Krista) took off Thursday evening for Indy. We stayed in a hotel a few blocks from the hotel. Since we had to be at the hospital by six, we decided to get up at five, yes, A.M. Let me tell you, 5:00 a.m. came VERY early for all of us.
Once we got Mylee checked in, we were able to chill in the pre-operative room until she was taken back to the O.R. Even though they were not actually doing surgery this time, because of the pain it was going to cause her by stretching and bending the knees, the doctor wanted her to be under aneshtisia. Therefore, before taking her back they gave her the same medicine to relax her as the last time. Within minutes, she became a giggling rag doll. It is so funny to watch her laugh at nothing.

Just before she had her "happy" medicine

Once they took her back, Krista and I were able to go down and get some much needed caffeine. Soon after getting back upstairs Dr. Loder came out to update us. He said that everything looks great and her incisions are healing nicely. He said he did go ahead and take off both casts to stretch both ankles and knees and that the ankles are much more flexible. This time instead of casting her legs in a bent position, he casted them in straight leg. She also has these cast shoes that he wants her to wear because he wants to to walk on these so she can work on getting some strength back in her muscles.
See Mylee in the recovery room was much different this time around. Last time, she did great with little complaining. This time, she cried and cried and cried. The nurses said it was probably because she did not have time to sleep off the anesthesia. Mylee also kept saying that her knee hurt so they gave her some Tylenol. After about thirty minutes, she was REALLY complaining that her legs hurt. Mylee has a pretty high pain tolerance, so I knew that if she was complaining, she had to really be hurting. I found the nurse and asked her if there was anything else she could have for pain. After calling the doctor, Mylee got some morphine and within five minutes, was back to herself. She was smiling, laughing, and charming all the nurses.

Finally able to relax after the morphine kicked in

Once we were able to leave recovery we still had about an hour before we could get into the cast clinic to get Mylee's color so we headed down to the hospital library. While I checked my e-mails and a few updated blogs, Mylee read a book to Dora. She loves to imitate reading and I think it is so cute to watch her "read" to her dolls.

Finally about noon we were able to get into the cast clinic. Since Mylee has been there several time, all the nursed know her by name and she is pretty friendly with all of them. They immediately got the color stick out for her to pick out her color. All day long she had been telling us and everyone else that she wanted purple casts. No problem. As we were walking into the room and the nurses were asking her what color she wanted, she said "I want bwack." Uh, what? So, I asked her again what color she wanted and again, she said "I want bwack!" Nope, not gonna happen. So, when I told her she couldn't have black, I was preparing myself for a breakdown. Instead I got a very simple "okay, I want pink." No problem, I can handle pink, and of course the nurses weren't surprised either that she chose pink AGAIN.

Once I told Mylee she was getting shoes she was so excited. Ever since we were in China, she has loved shoes. She calls them "pretty shoes." Well, the cast shoes are so not pretty, but after visiting the local craft shop, by early next week, those ugly cast shoes will be no more. I will definitely post before and after pictures of them.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Wow, it seems like forever since I have updated the blog. Things have been kind of hectic around here. Last Wednesday I took Mylee back to Riley for her cast check. Everything went well, and we will go back this Friday so they can do the procedure that was supposed to be done last week.
For now though, she is doing great. She is crawling everywhere and back to her spunky little self.

Matt came home for lunch last Friday (which he NEVER does) to inform me that he and eight other guys had just been layed off. TO put it mildly, I was a bit shocked. He has been told several times over and over that although there were layoffs going on, he would NOT be one to get a pink slip. Anyway, he has no idea how long he will be layed off, he was told it could be as short as a week, or as long as three months. He is already out looking for work and has a couple of side jobs lined up for later this week.

As for Blake, Emma, and Gabe, not too much to report there. Blake and Emma are counting down to spring break. We don't usually take a big trip for spring break, Matt and I usually take a couple of days off and do something with the kids. I am not too sure what we are going to do this year, but I am sure we will think of something.
Gabe is going to play t-ball this summer and is so excited. He finally gets to do things that his big brother and sister have done.

Tonight is my monthly mom's night with other special needs adoptive mom's. I always look forward to getting together with the other moms because we always have such a great time together. We talk about EVERYTHING from our adoptive kids to our biological kids, good things and bad. Tonight I am even more excited because Rebecca from China Baby is coming. Rebecca knows one of the other moms and was invited by her, so we will all meet tonight. Rebecca did my blog design and it was at that time that I learned that she lives about 45 minutes from me. She also lives in the town where we spend the summers at the lake. So, I was so surprised when I found out that one of the other moms knew Rebecca. Needless to say, I cannot wait to meet her. I love reading her blog and she is an amazing photographer as well. I will update on how everything goes. I hope I don't come off too strong, I feel a bit starstruck.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Update on Mylee's legs

WARNING! If you have a weak stomache, or cannot stand to see unpleasant picutes, you probably should not look at the following pictures.

Today I was supposed to take Mylee back to Riley to have the doctor put her back to sleep so her could pull and stretch on her left leg. In order to do this he was going to put her to sleep in the operating room, take off the left casts, and pull and stretch her knee to an even more bent position. BUT, on Sunday she started running a fever and it continued until Tuesday. Tuesday morning I called and left a message with the nurse explaining that Mylee was running a fever and complaining of her knee hurting. At this point, I am thinking she may have an infection. When the nurse called back she said there was no way they could use anestesia on her if she was running a fever and that we would just reschedule it until next week. Okay, no problem.
About an hour later the nurse called back to say that the doctor wanted me to bring Mylee down anyway so her could go ahead and take off teh cast just to make sure she did not have an infection. Again, no problem.
So, this morning Mylee and I left for Indianapolis. Mylee is always excited to see Dr. Loder who she calls "Grandpa." As soon as she saw him she said "Hi Dr. Loder, I missed you." He thought this was pretty cute. Anyway, he explained that he was going to cut a "window" in her cast just over her knee so he could check the scar. He was afraid to take off the whole cast becasue he did not think he would be able to get her knee in as good of a position without her being sedated.

So, the cutting began. Mylee is so used to casts being put on and taken off, that she just sits there patiently until they are done. Once the "window" was cut, the nurse lifted off the cast and I thought I was going to pass out (literally). I should probably mention first that she did NOT have any type of infection. In fact, Dr. Loder said it looks like it is healing very nicely. Yeah, I didn't think so. The nurse took one look at me and wanted to know if I needed to sit down. She said I didn't look too good. Luckily, I was able to get myself together and did not need to sit down. For some reason, I don't handle post surgery scars well. Mylee on the other hand was quite intrigued with her scar. She kept saying "Ooooo" and sticking her head down to her knee to really get a good look. She kept saying "take a picture mom." This was actually kind of funny, and yes I did manage to get a picture.

Once it was determined that she did not have an infection (Praise God), the "window" was put back on and Mylee insisted on it being wrapped in purple. I was not too thrilled with this decision but after trying to tell her they did not have purple her response was "yeah, right there, see momma, purple right there." At that point, I knew there was no telling her no.

Again, if you have a weak stomache, please do not look at the pictures.

Getting the "window" cut off her knee.

I think this one speaks for itself.

"I think I need a closer look."

Nice, really nice!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

14 Years!

Fourteen years ago I said "I do" to the man I love. Let me take you back a little. Matt and I met Labor Day weekend 1994 at a party. My closest and dearest friend (Jennifer) was in town for the weekend and one of my classmates invited us to his house that weekend for a party. I went to very few college parties, so this was a little our of my comfort zone. But with Jen being in town and my roommate, off we went to this party. It turned out that is was a pretty low key party so I felt pretty comfortable. Anyway, as we sat on the couch talking to a couple of guys, in walks this tall guy with dark hair. Jen and I both watched him walk across the room. We then turned to each other with grins from ear to ear. Anyway, we were introduced to him and spent the rest of the night talking with each other. When we left the party that night we all exchanged phone numbers.

A couple of days later I got a phone call. The was the conversation:

Matt "Is Mandi there?"
Mandi "This is her."
Matt "Hi, this is Matt."
Mandi "Who?"
Matt "Matt, from the party the other night."
Mandi "Oh, you must want to talk to Jennifer, she does not go to school here, but I can give you her number.
Matt "No, I'm pretty sure I want to talk to Mandi. Are you the one with the red hair?"
Mandi "Uh, yeah?'
Matt "Then yes, it is you I want to talk to."
Mandi "Seriously?"
Matt "Yes, why is that so hard to believe?"
Mandi "I am just used to the guys wanting to go out with Jennifer."
Matt "Nope, not this time."

From that day on we pretty much spent everyday together between work and classes. At the end of the semester Matt moved home to join the Army (I was not too happy about this) and I stayed at school. After being apart for a couple of months and driving back and forth five hours each way, Matt asked me to marry him on Valentine's Day 1995. Of course I said "yes!" We planned on getting married that summer after he finished basic training. However, things went a little differently. He called me one night and said that he had just finished talking to his recruiter and his mom and maybe we should go to the Court House and get married. I laughed because I thought he was kidding. No, he was serious. He explained to me that his recruiter told him it would be easier if we got married BEFORE he left for basic training. Being his spouse I would be able to get information about him, phone calls from him, and of course the benefits from the Military. As he was explaining all this to me I was envisioning my dream wedding. Like most girls I had been dreaming of the day I would get married, and that dream did NOT include saying "I Do" in a Court House. After several days of thinking it over, Matt and I decided getting married in the Court House was indeed the best thing for us. We decided to have a reception that summer.

So, on March 3rd 1995 Matt and I walked into the local Court House and vowed to love, honor, and cherish each other in sickness and in health, til death do us part. And so began our lives as husband and wife. On March 7th, Matt left for Alabama for basic training and I went back to school. We talked as often as possible and I was even able to go down and see him once during his basic training.

He called me once evening to let me know that he had gotten his orders for his duty station after basic training. "Okay I said, where are we going?" I was anxious to see where in the country we would be moving to. This is how the rest of that conversation played out...

Matt "Uh, I am going to S. Korea."

Mandi "What!? I am not moving to Korea."

Matt "Well, that's good because you are not allowed to go."

Mandi "What, what do you mean I can't go"

Matt "Well, it is an unaccompanied tour for a year so the military will not pay for you to go."

Mandi "A year! You mean I won't see you for a year?"

Matt "I can try to come home mid tour if we can afford it."

Mandi "There has to be some way I can go with you."

Matt "There is no way we can afford for you to live over there if the military will not help us out."

Mandi "We'll see about that."

After that conversation, Matt and I both did alot of research on family members going overseas with their spouses unaccompanied. Matt came home from basic training in July and left two weeks later in August for Korea. It was a very emotional good bye for us, but his last words to me before he boarded the plane were "I'll see you in a month, If anyone can do this, you can." So, I spent the next days researching Korea, applying for a passport, and a visa from Korea to live there. Within a month (give or take a few days), I was on a plane to Korea to live with my husband. And so began the beginning of the rest of our lives.

Matt was stationed in S. Korea for a year and I was there for about 9 months. I got pregnant with Blake there so I came home in May so I wouldn't be too far along to fly. He came home in July, and in August we were off to Hawaii for three years. From Hawaii, we lived in Washington D.C. for a year and then it was back home for good. Shortly after we moved home we had Emma and then Gabe. And now Mylee.

I am blessed beyond words to have Matt as my husband. He is an amazing, hardworking, wonderful father and husband. We have we have laughed together, cried together, and yes, even fought together. But through the the ups, the downs, the good times and bad, the crackers and the Oreos (Matt, you know what I am talking about),I thank God everyday for bringing us together. I am so thankful that in the beginning of our relationship Matt stuck with me and slowly brought down the walls I had put up.

So Matt, thank you. Thank you for loving me for who I am and for being there for me whenever I need you. Thank you for the wonderful family we have, the life we have together, and for allowing me to follow my dreams. I know I don't say it nearly enough, but I love and appreciate you more and more each day. Oh, and thank you for the priceless anniversary gift this year (more on that to come later).