My Family

My Family
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Friday, November 12, 2010

What do I do all day?

Someone - OK - my dad asked me today what I do with all my time now that the kids are in school all day. It's odd that I even think I owe anyone an explanation, but for some reason I do - or maybe I'm just incensed that he has no idea how "full" our lives are.

I think the other reason it bugged me is I really thought I too would have some free time this year, but there always seems to be something, or someone, that needs my attention. Perhaps if my house was new and didn't need so much renovation or if the kids were older or more self-sufficient. Whatever - there's always an excuse for why the time just seems to slip by so fast.

As Thanksgiving approaches I'm going to chose to be grateful that my life is so very full with wonderful kids, grandkids and in-laws and all the craziness that goes with them - and I do mean crazy!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Adoption story #2 - Kelsey

Seven months after Chad moved in Jonathan was born. My itch for a girl began soon after and "trying" to make one wasn't in our plan. We were done, biologically speaking. We moved into a rental home soon after Jonathan was born and had room for more. We were still fostering, but primarily providing respite for special needs kids so their parents could take a break.

October of 1984 we received Robby as a long term foster care placement. He was 14 yrs. old and had multiple disabilities - used a wheelchair, non-verbal and severely mentally retarded. Unbeknownst to us at the same time Robby was settling in to our house, our daughter Kelsey was being born.

Kelsey was a typical Minnesotan, a blue-eyed blond. She had a family history that put her at risk for possible developmental delays. Her social worker chose our family because we had only asked for a girl up to age 4 with no other restrictions. I'm sure since we had adopted Chad she felt we would deal with whatever issues might develop. The social worker representing our family was floored that a family with 3 kids - two of whom were perfectly healthy would be chosen. She was 4 months old, healthy and not yet showing signs of any developmental issues.

Kelsey was an easy baby - very content and slept through the night right away, which was wonderful. The boys were all excited to have a little sister.

We were shopping one day not long after she arrived and the salesperson looked at me, I have hazel eyes, and then Mark, who has brown eyes, and said, "Where did she get those blue eyes?" I hesitated for just a second thinking I didn't really want to explain it all and said - "My mother had blue eyes." Very true - no connection at all of course, but true. Long explanation averted - at least that time.

Now - no girl should be without a sister should they?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Adoption story #1 - Chad

November is National Adoption Month. One suggestion was to write your adoption story. Well, we have 9, so thought I'd try to write 2 or 3 every week of November.

Our first story begins before our first born was, well, born. When we got married Mark and I discussed whether we would have biological children at all. It was in the heyday of population zero and we were pessimistic about our world and it's future. I told Mark I wanted to at least have one biologically and then we could adopt - and so it began.

In our first job out of college we were houseparents in a group home for mentally retarded adults - there were 21 when we arrived - 2 over the household's limit. As were learned about the lives of our clients we found that the adults who had had loving families to grow up in had fewer mental health issues and were enjoyable people to be around. Several of the clients had spent much of their growing up time in institutions - this was more the norm at the time then the folks who grew up at home. We decided we wanted to adopt a child with special needs and be that difference in their life.

Conor was born Sept. 16, 1980 and shortly afterward we received our foster care license and began providing respite for kids with special needs. There was a family who were featured in a movie called - "Who are the Debolts?" They had adopted 14 children with multiple disabilities and were the pioneers of promoting the adoption of kids considered "unadoptable". The father of the family came to a local adoption seminar and after listening to his inspiring story I was hooked. They brought photo albums with pictures of kids from all over the US who were waiting to be adopted and I was mesmerized by all the beautiful faces.

We met with Children's Home Society and explained the type of child we were interested in adopting - special needs and up to age 8. We were 27 at the time and were sure we could handle anything, I think. As we looked at the Minnesota photolistings we picked out a picture of a beautiful blue eyed blonde who was almost 8 years old, had Down Syndrome and was named Chad. He had been in the book for about 2 years and had recently returned to foster care, thankfully the same one he'd previously been placed in, after a failed adoption. They seemed generally stunned that we'd be interested in a child with his needs and who was so old. Since he was the child who had been waiting the longest and was the oldest - they suggested we start with him. They also suggested that we go to the county for our homestudy as it was unnecessary for us to pay their private fees when the county would do it for free. This was long before the state began paying private agencies to handle special needs adoptions.

So, off to the county we went and attended all the required classes etc. and filled out stacks of paperwork. Our county contacted the Chad's county and a meeting was planned. Our first meeting took place at a restaurant in northern MN where he lived. As we were discussing Chad with his foster mother, a wonderful, patient, Christian woman who seemed a little overwhelmed trying to keep up with him, he dashed into the kitchen and started sticking his hands into the fresh pies on the counter. We had only just met him, but, apparently we were expected to chase after him.

On the drive home we weren't sure what to do, but we also felt as if we'd made the commitment to him from the moment we picked his picture. Then, the unexpected happened and we discovered we were pregnant. This was definitely not in the plan. Again, we just knew that God had chosen Chad for us and we weren't going to back out.

We had at least one more meeting - again in a restaurant - this time he tried to climb over the booth we were sitting in. Thankfully the next visit was in our home where we could control the situation a bit more and in January of 1983 Chad moved in for good. It was a tough transition for all of us. Conor had been an only child, we had had just a 2 yr. old and now had to navigate school and special education. Chad had been placed from the foster home he'd lived in all his life into an adoptive home for six months and then returned and then placed with us - a lot for any kid to figure out let alone one who was nonverbal and developmentally delayed. We had never heard of RAD or reactive attachment disorder. We were basically clueless and didn't really take into consideration all that Chad was experiencing. Frankly, I think we thought we were pretty awesome and who wouldn't want to be with us - it's amazing what difference a little perspective and life experience makes.

For the first weeks, months and years we counted the time till he'd be 16 and we could consider a group home. I know it sounds heartless, but we were just coping as best we could. Those who didn't know Chad as a little guy shake their heads in disbelief that he was ever that busy - he's aged, as have we, and slowed down considerably. That kid who we were sure would kill us off by the time he was 16 turned 36 this past summer and is easygoing and fun to be around. He brings us laughter every day with his silly antics and dance moves. Although, sometimes I think it'd be nice to have some time during the day when everyone is at school and I don't have to think about what to do with Chad when I need to run an errand or something, I don't feel an urgent need for him to move on. Someday, but not today. Thanks Chad for starting us on this adoption journey and thank you for forgiving us for our ignorance and being patient with us as we learned how to be a family who, at least tries, to be full of grace.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


We're several weeks into the school year and a realization that started to occur this summer is hitting me again. This family won't be any less demanding as it ages - in fact perhaps more so. Demanding is the right word for now I guess even though it sounds negative, but most of what is taking up our time are not choices - they are necessities - therefore demands. Hopefully what will change is the demand part and we'll have more choice about how we spend our time. I'm also in great need of more sleep - I definitely got more sleep in the summer and am realizing I need to get to bed earlier as there's no time for an afternoon nap when the buses start returning shortly after 2.

This summer brought many stressful events. We started with Melissa's wedding, which was wonderful, but clearly stressful. Then we prepared for Shannon's surgery, which was far less stressful then we expected - which was a relief. In Aug. we then had a housing crisis with another daughter, which is soon to be resolved Oct. 1 as she moves into her own supported apt. That will be a huge relief.

This fall Christian and Shannon started a new school. For Christian it's been great thus far. As far as we know for Shannon it's fine, but it's very different. We're also very concerned as her hips have begun causing her severe pain. We can barely move them and she screams. We're not sure if it's muscle spasming and are anxious to take her to the physiatrist Oct. 4 and see what can be done. Since she went through surgery so well, it's been difficult to see her suffering pain for an entirely different reason.

As my son Conor's friend is dealing with the death of his young wife and facing single fatherhood with a 1 yr. old and a 2 mo. old I am reminded how very blessed I am. So today I will count those many blessings in my life and forge on. Maybe I'll even sneak in a nap - probably not - but it sure sounds good about now.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Another year older

When I was turning 50 and was having a little trouble with that age - for one reason my mother died at 49 and I thought she was old then - a wise woman told me, it's only a number. I've never forgotten that and now that I'm turning 55 - half way through that 5th decade I still choose to embrace the fact that it's only a number.

So, I've been asking people if we celebrate golden birthdays, well here in MN we do, which is the year you turn the age of your birthdate then what happens when you turn the age of the year you were born? Then I thought at least half my kids will probably never celebrate that year - or did when they were too young to appreciate it. Yet another reason to be happy I was born in 1955.

Now I'm thinking I should set some lofty goals for this year. That I'll have to think about. The past 3 or 4 mos. we've been in survival mode, so the goal was simply making it through one day at a time. I hate living that way as it tends to suck the joy out of life. Starting today - I'm going to make some intentional goals. The first goal is to get our eating under control. We've only made it to the farmer's market once or twice this summer - generally we've gone weekly. Today's goal is to make a healthy menu plan and shop for it. It does make it trickier when the weather is so hot and we don't like to run the oven when the air is on, but we'll figure it out.

Another exciting event this week was Jacob started school at a charter school that we've been on the waiting list for and the first day of school they called to let us know there was an opening for Ella. Amazingly, the seat available was right next to one of her best friends and the class has 3 other friends. Such an above and beyond answer to prayer. She is grieving the loss of her old school, but I know she is where she should be and that that will pass.

Today I plan to enjoy and be grateful for this day, no matter what challenges it may bring.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Good day

We did something with Shannon today that I don't think I would have considered trying before her surgery. We went on a 1 and 1/2 hr. river boat tour. It would have been much too risky to try before her surgery due to her "fussiness" - which was actually very serious pain I'm sure. She can sit much more comfortably in her chair now. Jonathan and Jill came with us, which was awesome as well.

Shannon was also able to spend two evenings with Linda and Paul for the first time in a month. It was great to have her out of the house - and I can't imagine how great it was for her to be at Linda and Paul's - her second family.

Jacob went to his open house at the new school he will be attending. He's very excited and we're excited for him. This school is a great fit for him. Hopefully, Ella, who is on the waiting list, will get in soon as well. This school starts a month before our local school and apparently many parents use it for a month of free day care and then drop out right before their local school starts - tacky! Anyway, that'd be to our advantage if it gets Ella in.

We tried to make this past week a really fun one for Jacob - Valleyfair, a movie, lunch and dinner out and the riverboat ride. Right now dad has them at the Y pool. He is counting the days till school starts - so - here's to hoping that excitement lasts.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A full plate

It's another week when we just have too much on our plate to finish and we're totally stuffed. It seems as if every time we think we've finished one course someone brings us another one. Some of the courses are delicious and enjoyable and some are bitter and poorly seasoned.

Jacob has a spot at a charter school which is a delectable dish. Ella now moves to the first in line for her grade, so hopefully she will get in this year as well. She is not as excited as Jacob as she has good friends at school she doesn't want to leave, but as social as she is she will do just fine. The only stickler is the school is year round and starts on Aug. 9. We had some fun stuff planned for Aug. he will miss, so hopefully that won't cause him too much angst.

Last night there was a thunder storm and Callie girl HATES thunder. With her sensitivity to sound - especially unexpected ones - they are just terrorizing. She ended up sleeping with her "ear muffs" - Peltor sound protectors. She had them on all night. It's so sad to me as I love a good thunder storm.

Hopefully today will be a day to finish a dish and get closer to dessert - I LOVE dessert!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Me First!

Mark and I were listening to a story on the radio that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are both pilots but never fly together - just in case something happens so there's a parent left for the kids. I looked at him and said - no way we're doing that because neither one of us wants to be the one left behind to take care of this crazy bunch! If we're going down - we wanna go together and let these adult kids of ours sort it out. Sorry kids - it's payback time.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Woo-Hoo Shannie

Well, today's goal of backing off of the meds has been a HUGE! success. She had her last dose of Tylenol almost 12 hrs. tonight and the same for one of the anti-spasm medications. What a relief! We were so worried she would be uncomfortable without them, but she's doing just great. What a tough cookie.

After taking Ella's hair out I was having trouble getting all the tangles out - so had to have more instruction from the daughter-in-law who is personally in the know. I should have washed it before trying to brush and then comb it out. 9 years dealing with her hair and I'm still learning - either I'm really slow or it's really that much work. I chose #2 since most black women pay someone else to "fix" their hair too - not so much into the do-it-yourself hair.

Last night our electricity went out about 4AM and didn't come back on till almost 8. Callie and Christian had speech, so had to be out the door before that - so they grabbed breakfast on the way and were a little messy, but they got there. I was soooo grateful it came back on before Shannie woke up and I had to open the fridge for her food. We are also well, as in water well, people - so no electricity, no water. Never a good thing to be without in our house.

So, here's hoping tonight is a restful night. We will give Shannon her nighttime meds as late as possible and hope she sleeps all night - it sure would be awesome to sleep without setting a middle of the night alarm.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sisterly love

Tonight Ella and some friends from church were together for bible study and as they shared prayer requests Ella shared about Shannie's hospital bed, which led to a discussion about the accessible bathroom we - and by we I mean Mark - are working on. One of the girls asked about how Shannie uses the bathroom and Ella promptly responded - "that's classified". Funny girl - way to protect your sister's privacy Ella.

We spent several hours undoing Ella's hair today. Hopefully, we can make an appt. sometime over the next week for a redo. It sure was nice to have a ready to go hair do every day. She kept saying how much she missed her hair and how special she felt with it and now she felt just like everyone else. Oh, Ella, you are so not like everyone else.

I think tomorrow we will try weaning off of the every 4 hr. dose of Tylenol. It's hard when Shannon is unable to tell us ahead of time whether she thinks she still needs it or not, so trial and error is our only course. We can also remove the main bandage, but the steri strips will come off slowly and surely - slowly is usually our experience.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Every time I think I know everything............

It has occurred to us a hospital bed might be helpful in physically dealing with Shannon - you know, before we too need back surgery. As we mentioned the possibility to her new social worker she said - surgery or not she should be eligible. It may sound ignorant, but it never occurred to us to ask.

Wouldn't you think with all the specialists in her life - social worker, physical therapists, occupational therapists, orthopedic specialists etc. etc. - someone might have asked if we needed one? Sometimes I think they all forget - for us - this is the first time we've dealt with all this. When we had foster kids with physical issues - we bought our own lousy bed - and I mean lousy - it cranked and was just kinda icky.

We also need a new bath chair - with the dual purpose of sitting in the bottom of a tub or rolling into an accessible shower. This time, they won't let us even order one until our shower is installed - kinda ridiculous when it works for either. So, the heat is on for Mark to get moving on the bathroom. Poor guy is still pretty tired and has to rustle up the energy to get that going. I'm so grateful we can do this as a team. How exhausting to go it alone.

For now, we have put risers under Shannon's bed legs which at least puts her up to our waist height for lifts in and out. More room under the bed for often used care items and such as well. Right now, Jill is putting some vinyl butterflies and flowers to brighten up her room - the white walls were starting to feel much too hospitally.

Spinning in circles

When you have the variety of special needs kids we have the time and attention that these past two weeks we have taken for Shannon is bound to affect some of the other kids. For those who have attachment issues it brings back those feelings of abandonment when we are away so much and even when we were home our attention wasn't on them.

We have had meltdowns the likes of which we haven't seen in probably a year with one. Between the demands of summer school, which I'm sure doesn't help his good feelings of self esteem as his learning disabilities make school a huge stressor and the time away he is falling apart. So, we try to scrap up a little extra energy to give the one on one attention that they need and pray it's enough for now.

Then we have our goofball daughter spinning around in the living room - I think my head actually feels that way right now. Between weariness and so many chores and information circulating my brain is definitely overloaded. Maybe I should join her next time - at least that kind of dizziness goes away.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Necessity - the great mother of invention.

Yesterday we needed to wash Shannie's hair - but we have no accessible shower yet and no bath chair for her new and improved body yet either. So, what to do. Well, we used a plastic bag to cover her head rest and with the help of a big brother tipped her back and voila - clean hair. Now we just need to be sure we have those shower and chair items in place before a Minnesota winter - oh, ya sure that'd be cold.

It was nice to all be in church together this morning and as Pastor Scott said it was nice to have Shannie with us - it was wonderful to see her smile from ear to ear. She's coming back from her drug haze day by day. We sure miss our smiling interactive big girl, but the glimpses of her real self are coming through a bit each day as we ever so slowly back off the powerful drugs she's needed. So, far she's coping well and we pray that will continue.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A wierd night

It was my turn at 4AM last night. First I got confused about which meds she was suppose to have and started squirting one kind of med into another kind's bottle. I caught myself before I mixed 1 ml. into the wrong bottle. So, then I went in to give her the formula and meds and could not get the g-tube to flow. Once in awhile a little chunk of pill might get stuck so I used just a water syringe to try to push it through, but no luck.

I had to wake Mark up and see if I just wasn't strong enough, but no it was totally stuck. Next step is to take out the fluid in the balloon which anchors the g-tube into her body. It came out like pink med mixed with formula - wierd. So, he did it again - same deal. Shoot, for some reason it was pulling her stomach contents out rather then just the clear water that is suppose to be in there. I pulled on the G-tube and it came right out. We only have one spare, which we used, so hopefully it won't do anything crazy till they can deliver a new one next week. There is a picture of the kit with the new g-tube and one of inserting the new one.

Incredibly in the 11 years she's had a G-tube we've never had this problem. Why this week of all weeks and the middle of the night of all times? I got nothing - no really, I've got nothing.

Our grandson and his daddy came over to run the back yard - heat and all. I plan to enjoy his amazing energy and perhaps can gain some just by watching him. OK, probably not, but it will bring a smile and that's always good for the soul.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Home Sweet Home

It feels a little like getting out of prison. In no way do I prefer the hospital, but it is daunting at first putting together her schedule of meds and feeds and then just doing all her other cares by ourselves without supervision. Do they really think we're capable? As always a rhythm will develop and the meds will be weaned and then we'll be back to our new normal.

What exactly do I mean by a new normal? Up till this surgery we could all lift Shannon by ourselves - granted in this past year she's gotten a little ganglier and heavier and I knew before long I would no longer be able to safely do that. She gained 10 lbs with this surgery and single person lifts are impossible and not safe for her or the lifter. So, when transfers are needed 2 adults will be needed. Further into her recovery, like 6 weeks or more, a hoyer lift can be used. Also, a new stander is in order for weightbearing and to prevent her bones from becoming too brittle. We're also looking at new bath chairs - one that can roll into the shower or sits in a bath.

We had a little scare tonight and are keeping a close eye and trying not to worry about a small area of possible infection. Perhaps too much info., but keeping the lower part of her back - the incision goes to the very bottom of her spine, no pun intended, clean is very difficult. So, we clean as best we can and pray for rapid healing.

For now - we have food or meds to deliver every 2 hrs. round the clock except for one 4 hr. time period during the night. Stinkin' Tylenol only lasts 4 hrs. and Ibuprofen inhibits bone healing - so, for now we set the clock. Hopefully in another week or so we can try spreading out those night hours and hopefully weaning her off the meds - one that is particularly addictive - will not be too difficult for her.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day 7 - hopeful

So, today we started her feeds at the ridiculous rate of 1/2 oz formula and 1/2 oz. water - which worked. Then we went up to 2 oz. of 1/2 and 1/2 - then 3 and just an hour ago 4 - hallelujah we may be on the road to home sweet home. After watching almost the whole floor of kids empty out - 8 went home - only 4 of us left - we sure hope to be heading out before 1 tomorrow.

This day was one of those days when this diverse family was just a lot to handle. We had an adult daughter miss her work bus, so had to run her to work after loading 2 on their summer school bus and dropping one off at his summer school program. Then, we get a call that Christian's G-tube fell out so Mark had to deliver that to school and then put it in as the school "nurse" had no idea how to do that - seriously.

Then I got a call at Gillette, the hospital where Shannon is, that our former foster son, who we retain guardianship for, was at Gillette and needed a form signed in order to be allowed to pay for his own dental as MA no longer covers two visits a year - again, seriously? So, I walked over to do that and called Mark on the way back and we commiserated on what a ridiculous life we lead sometimes.

Should we go home tomorrow we will be embarking on a new path. There are many things that will never be the same with Shannon - none bad, just different - a new normal - yes even at our house there is a normal - Reeves style normal.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day 6 - A set back

It's been a busy couple of days. Yesterday was looking very good - her G-tube was switched back from the temporary G/J tube, her drain tube was removed as was one IV and tube feedings had started - very slowly, but all systems were a go. We thought we were on track to come home on Wed.

One little issue came up Tues. when the surgeon's resident was insisting on having an x-ray taken with her sitting on a stool - mind you she had only been in her chair once and for less then an hour, not to mention she never sits much straighter then 30 degrees. So, I said - not going to happen. I had several nurses and the PT all agreeing and a call was put in to the surgeon that also agreed the pics should be taken sitting in her chair. I felt a little like a naughty girl looking for that guy all day to say nana boo-boo - Mommy 1 - Resident 0.

During the night last night, my turn, they had to turn the feedings off as her little tummy got very swollen and hard and she broke out in a sweat. After X-rays they could see her intestines were full of gas and so all feeds were stopped and the IV started to flow again. As I left tonight she was more comfortable and we finally saw a little smile before we left as her dear Linda is spending the night with her. We are blessedly home together for about 12 hours and are looking forward to an awesome and comfortable night's sleep.

Thought some of you would enjoy the before and after photos. How she tolerated that horribly crooked little back I'll never know. She is one tough cookie.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Another good night

Last night went well for Shannie. My 54 yr. old body did not appreciate the very uncomfortable sleeping arrangements, but complaining just seems really lame when you look at what she's dealing with. She was up in a reclining wheelchair for an hour last night and did really well.

Tomorrow will be a big day - the drainage tube in the back will be removed and the dressing removed and replaced. They are also planning to adjust her chair to her "new" and hopefully improved body. This will likely require several in and outs of the chair which just can't be comfortable. So, we forge ahead. Our girl is just such an inspiration to all of us of perseverance and courage.

Thanks again for all the prayers - they are very much appreciated and definitely making a difference.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Too funny

Just talked to Mark about how the night went. It went super well. They came in during the night and put the vibrating vest on again. Mark woke up to it and couldn't figure out where he was - thought he was on an international flight to Singapore and all the little lights were instrumentation in the plane :-) I suppose that was a disappointment for him - he loves to travel.

Anyway, they didn't know he was listening and Shannie was making little ah noises with her mouth open and the respiratory tech and nurse said she sounds like a little lamb - which is Mark's nickname for Shannie!

He said this morning - I've got to say my biggest fear of her having extreme pain just hasn't happened. This hasn't been true with her previous surgeries, so it's been a huge relief. Now, if today's switch of meds still holds it - that will be totally awesome.

Friday, July 9, 2010

mostly good day- a few rough spots

For the most part it was a good day. She moved out of PICU and onto the regular floor. She had two bouts of low O2 levels which required suctioning - not a fav. This evening they also used a BD vest which basically pounds your chest area with air, if you will. Wasn't sure how uncomfortable that'd be, but she tolerated it well. The follow up suction was hard, but daddy said after I left she was sleeping deeply again.

Tomorrow is a big day. She'll be off the PCA - patient controlled analgesic, which is controlled by her caregivers in her case. Basically that means she'll be off instantaneous pain relief and will be backed off of the harder narcotics till tylenol holds her pain. Also, they will begin her tube feedings which will be via the new G/J tube. So, praying all those changes go smoothly and she won't be too uncomfortable. Also that her "bowels" - sorry if that's TMI - will wake up, if you will. Very important.

Daddy is there for the night and tomorrow. A few siblings will visit tomorrow evening and then it'll be my turn again. Her big bro Jonathan will spend Sun. with her so we can go to church - if she behaves herself ;-)

Pretty good night

Good morning - it was a pretty decent night for Shannie. She spent some time on each side and is tolerating it well. Her oxygen levels kept dropping, so they put a mask by her with O2 and that did the trick. She hates coughing even when she's well, so they've had to suction her some which isn't too fun.

They just removed her aerterial line and will be moving her out of PICU and onto the regular kids floor. That will be very nice, although it's been very comfortable here as well. The PICU is brand new - she was the first patient when they opened the new PICU at the U about 6 yrs. back. This is a habit that really needs to be broken ;-) Everyone is always so thrilled with their new digs and we're trying to be gracious "guests".

Thursday, July 8, 2010

so far so good

At first sight Shannie looked pretty rough. Her face is pretty torn up from the tape and was also quite swollen from laying on her stomach all that time. We saw her incision which is from her neck to the base of her spine, but amazingly looks pretty clean.

I had to laugh, incredulously, when the surgeon's assistant - called a fellow - said something like she looks pretty good. For real? I think it might have been one of those things you say and then hit yourself on the head later, but for crying out loud think first man.

Shannie is doing incredibly well right now. She has pain, but it seems to be well contolled and the nurses are right on top of it.

Mark went home to be with the rest of the kids and will be back tomorrow for a 24 hr. stint. He had spent all day yesterday here as well, so was anxious to go home I think.

Thanks for all the prayers - we surely appreciate them.

She's almost done.

We just talked to the surgeon. It went very well. She lost 2 pts. of blood which is about 1/2 of what she has and was to be expected. One pt. of donated blood was given and about 2/3 of her own pint was cleaned and put back in. The rods went in beautifully. Cadaver bone paste was used to secure the rods into her pelvis. He said we should expect she'll look different - longer and her hips may look more tilted as she's been compensating for her out of whack back.

He thought they would remove the intubation as she's done well - which would be awesome. I will take the first night and Mark will get some much needed sleep. Then tomorrow we'll switch. She will be in PICU for about 2 days he said.

A unexpected and wonderful surprise was running into our favorite social worker who was here with her niece. So nice when God plants those little lights into your, otherwise kinda gloomy, days.

I'll try to update after we see her, but sometimes it can get pretty crazy once we get to be with her.

She's in

Shannie went in to surgery right on time. After talking with the surgical nurse, surgeon, anesthesiologist etc. we were again struck by how involved this is. She will have a central line and an arterial line as well as all the other tubing that goes with surgery. There is a 10-15% chance she will need the intubation and respiration tubes to remain in after surgery - we are really praying that won't be needed as her gag reflux is so strong she really hates that.

Last night as we were bathing her according to the new standards - all clean towels, new bar of soap, clean bedding and jammies - we were saying how it felt a little like Abraham must have felt when he took Isaac to the mountain. We know Shannie knew something was up, but the details are a mystery to her. It feels a little like taking an innocent lamb to slaughter.

We should receive several updates during the day and will try to post if the computers are available.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

And so it begins

Today Shannon will go to Gillette to have her Gastrostomy tube changed to a Gastrostomy/Jejunostomy tube or G/J tube for short. It is done in the X-ray department via fluoroscopy. It shouldn't cause much discomfort, but all procedures cause anxiety for Shannon as she's had so many and becomes very anxious as soon as we walk into Gillette, well really any doctor office. She can't have any feedings after 8AM and the procedure is at 11, so hopefully she won't be too hungry. We gave her some Diazepam or Valium to help her muscle tone and also, hopefully, to help her relax overall.

Mark and her brother Jonathan will accompany her today - many strong arms will be needed. After the procedure they will meet with the PICU - Pediatric Intensive Care Nurse - to tour the area and get any questions answered. Then the lab for some blood work. This is always tough for her as she is generally a hard poke, as they say.

Tomorrow our day begins at 5:30AM when she gets her last feed and we will arrive at the hospital at 7AM. Her surgery is scheduled for 8:30AM and expected to take about 5 hrs.

We have those mixed feelings of dreading tomorrow and anxious to get it over with. It's been hanging over our heads for about 4 months now and so in some ways, at least I, am ready to get it over with. The getting over with it part will just be a long time - about a 6 month recovery time.

We know it will be months before every move in bed, in and out of her chair, in and out of the bath will be done with any kind of comfort. It seems selfish to even mention, but after her hip surgery it was almost 6 months before we could care for her without causing her some kind of pain. It's a slow process from extreme screaming from every movement to cringing, but it takes a toll on her caregivers - a different kind then what she's experiencing of course, but a toll nonetheless.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Anticipation - and I don't mean the good kind

There are certain events in life with which the anticipation is as much a part of the enjoyment of the upcoming event as the event itself. Weddings, vacations, birthdays or big anniversaries and such. Other events create an anticipation wrought with anxiety, fear and trepidation. That is the event for which we are gearing up.

On Wed. Shannon will be having her G-tube switched into a G/J tube in anticipation of her surgery Thurs. She is having posterior spinal fusion - which means rods will be installed into her back from the top of her spine to the bottom. Her scoliosis has created two 60 degree angles. Besides the pain in her back that it is creating she has pain in her left hip and left as it is pulling her femur out of her hip socket. She has already had two surgeries to correct that situation. Hopefully, this surgery will prevent or at least slow down the need to fix her hip again.

I love this quote from Mother Teresa - "I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish He didn't trust me so much." Amen sister! I'm sure I'm not the only one who has times where you just want to say - really God you thought I could handle this? Maybe I'm the only one, but I'm pretty sure it's universal.

So, I will attempt to update anyone interested in Shannon's progress over the next few weeks via this blog. There are computers at the hospital we can use if they are available. Either Mark or I will be at the hospital at all times. Our wonderful church family will be providing us with excellent food during this time too. This morning a time of prayer was set aside for Shannon and we were very touched by all those who joined us. Knowing our church family is keeping us covered in prayer is very reassuring.

Shannon is such a blessing to so many people and sometimes how she impacts people is really amazing. I know Mark and I have learned so much from her and know these next weeks and months will again be times of growth for us all - literally for her as the surgeon predicts she'll gain 2 inches as her spine is straightened!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Summer field trip!

I promised myself this summer I wouldn't let it slip by without taking advantage of all the fun free things there are to do. My plan is to find a new place to explore weekly and we thought it'd be fun to concentrate on the Mississippi River and all there is to see and do in, around and about it.

Today we went to Lilydale Regional Park - Jacob, Ella, Jill and I. We didn't park quite in the right place, so had a pretty long trek, but, that's not necessarily a bad thing. We started at "Bruce Vento's View". We saw a waterfall, Echo cave and a brick oven, went fossil hunting and walked to Pickeral lake. There were many signs along the way to learn about what we were seeing.

I'm so glad that, save a few exceptions, Ella and Jacob have a blast together. When we were raising the first batch of kids they had little need for friends, pre-teenage years, as they were content playing with each other. So far, that is usually the case for Ella and Jacob - they are really compatible and just have a blast together.

Mark has been uber-busy working on Shannon's new bathroom. It is a huge undertaking and as with every project in this old house has tons of bumps along the way - nothing is ever plumb. It is only 3 weeks until her surgery - spine fusion - a very serious surgery for the 60 degree curves, 2, in her back.

Next week Mark and I are going to Chicago to visit good friends for 3 days - a post-wedding/pre-surgery getaway if you will. We are greatly looking forward to it and trying not to get too ahead of ourselves thinking about the immense impact Shannon's surgery will forever have on our lives.

Today - we had lots of fun exploring!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

It takes a village!

We did it! Our Melissa got married last Fri. to Curtis Fox. She is now Mrs. Fox! It was an eventful day for many reasons. We had a do-it-yourself type wedding. The biggest undertaking being preparing of food for 150, although I think we had closer to 125 guests. Conor, Shannan, her sister Lily an her boyfriend Derrell handled the grill - steaks and chicken which turned out very well. Shannan's other sister Kaysie chased Dominic so they could do what they did. Mark and his sister Jane spent a good chunk of Thurs. making potato salad. As soon as my Aunt Joanne got off the plane Thurs. she came over and helped make 2 more salads and fruit etc. was prepared as well.

Jonathan's wife Jill embroidered and bejeweled Melissa's sash, made her veil, decorated the arch they were married under, made pocket squares for the groomsmen and the groom etc. I made 6 little girls dresses and the table runners. Mark worked insanely hard painting, cleaning and in general preparing our house for company. Jonathan made homemade whipped cream for the fruit salad and set up the sound system with Shannan who also took Ella to her first hair appt. that week which was a good 7 hours out of her evening.

Christopher, with his friend Austin, cared for 4 of our kids and got them to Gale Woods Farm on time. Afterwards Austin led the way home in Chris' car with our brother-in-law following. Our brother-in-law Manny performed the ceremony and our Pastor Scott was there for back-up in case there was a travel disaster and Manny didn't make it.

To see your adult children pitch in so awesomely is very fulfilling. We have always had to do-it-yourself out of necessity. There has always been more time then money - so my kids are very resourceful. I am very proud of that and them. Several people commented on how the daughter-in-laws pitched in as well and I said to several mothers of boys - I highly recommend getting one of those - they're so very useful. My kids and DIL's just rock!

Paul and Linda prepared and brought Shannon and Lisa kept track of Christian and her husband Steve rescued Mark when the van broke down as well as helping with Chad during the wedding and dinner. Kara helped keep track of Callie and averted a near disaster when she ran full force towards the cake.Curtis' mother handled table decorations, flowers, lined up the photographer etc. His sister Kristen did a beautiful job on Melissa's make-up.

Several friends hopped up and helped get the salads on the table and others helped clear tables when I realized I hadn't planned for that. Hopefully, I haven't forgotten anyone on purpose and I know others helped in ways I don't even know.

My one nagging regret is not having Ella sing for the ceremony. She has a lovely voice, is very confident and has sang many times at church, For whatever reason it never occurred to any of us, so I'm reassuring myself that it simply wasn't meant to be.

We're still weary the whirlwind of the past few months. I don't think we ever sat down, but for an hour here and there, for the past month. We are not still twenty something and, although we are very energetic, we are pretty zapped right now.

The photographer did a fantastic job and the pictures we have seen so far are just gorgeous. There are still some boxes of decorations we have to go through, but they can wait. There are only 5 more days of school left, so I am planning for summer activities - a little late, but I was just a tad bit busy before.

Tomorrow Kaia will be here till Mon. night when mommy and daddy return from their honeymoon in Cancun. Her aunties and uncles will keep her from missing them too much I hope. We're so very glad Kaia's mom and dad are married and committed to her - we're excited about their future together.

I think this has been a lot of rambling, but my brain is still processing.

Monday, April 26, 2010

From Weary to Hysteria - that's my life!

On Sunday morning I was feeling especially weary for some reason. It had been a long weekend already and a difficult morning with Christian. The sermon was one that should have boosted me up - all about our spiritual gifts and using them and what you are passionate about. Usually it's a topic where I feel just a little bit superior as I've been so blessed to have a partner who joined me in my passion to have a big family, adopt and work with people with special needs. But yesterday the reality of the job set before us which will never really end weighed heavy on me. It was a rainy day and all I could think about was curling up with a mindless book and napping on the couch, which looked like a ridiculous dream.

We left church following our normal routine - don't judge - to drive through McDonalds. Christian already had to go home separately as he was again out of line. As I'm asking the kids what they want Chad was sitting behind Callie and was telling me what he wanted. Now Chad's speech is very limited and tough to understand most of the time. Callie has come a long way, but she is still often difficult to understand even to those of us who know her well. She turned around and asked Chad several times what he wanted - what Chad, what do you want? Finally she turned around a little frustrated and said - whatever - tone and all. I giggled all the way home.

Amazingly after we got home Christian straightened up a bit and decided to get along. Mark went off to take care of my dad as he does on Sun. and I was running around as I do while he's gone. One of our PCA's arrived and took the kids outside for awhile which didn't last long and they came in with some drama or other. Finally everyone seemed to settle a bit playing quietly, well sort of quietly. I curled up on the couch with my book and dared to read. I even fell asleep for a few minutes. What an amazing gift that was.

God knew just what I needed - and in the midst of the chaos that is our life He gave me just a little respite as if to reassure me yet again that He will equip me and He is more then able to supply my every need.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Wednesday - Double Double coupon day!

On Wednesday - Rainbow is going to double up to 10 coupons valued up to $1 each! So, cut up your Sun. paper and get shopping.

While you're there - Rainbow's own ad has a coupon for Green Giant canned vegies - $.38 - up to 4 cans. Pick those up and bring them to your local food shelf.

As for me, it's a gorgeous day and so hard to stay inside. Had a little time out under our gazebo for lunch time, but would have loved to have read a book or taken a nap. Ah well, I'm grateful for what I had. Enjoy the day!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Callie loves worship music at church. We've been listening to the team practice before the service and she loves it. She has her perennial request - Lord I lift your name on high. I wasn't paying attention, but after requesting the song, our worship leader Rachel and the choir and the instrumentalists all began to play and sing it for her. Now that is a church family to be proud of. They definitely put even the least of these first and foremost.

As the pastor was talking this morning Callie stood beside him, folded her hands and apparently began to pray which Pastor Scott immediately seized upon and had us join her. He repeated what he could glean from her words, which can be difficult to understand, but she thanked God for all the people being there and for Jesus and God. Our little girl who had no language at 3. I've said it before and I'll say it again - she is truly a miracle.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ah - Junior High

Fun start to this week. Dinner with 3 girlfriends that I've known for like 17 yrs. now - wow! This year was the first time we hadn't managed to get together around Christmas, so it had been a long time. As is often true with true friends we picked right up where we left off. So much to catch up on.

We met as jr. high youth leaders at church. My eldest was just entering jr. high and we were new to this church. As is often true in a large church you really have to find your niche to develop friendships - and in jr. high I found mine. Not sure what that says about me, but there you have it. It was a tough age for most of us and I now have 2 more kids of my own entering middle school next year.

I must say I don't look forward to parenting them through those ages. For my older son with Down's it was the most difficult time. He rode the "regular" bus and kids would spit at him and throw pencils. He was barely verbal, but could spew a few swear words, which he usually did when he got off the bus. Our neighbor girl who was the same age was so upset by the abuse he took - which we wouldn't have known about had she not told us. How much different it is for typical kids who have the privilege of developing relationships as children with kid's who have disabilities. Their comfort level towards adults with disabilities will be so different and rather then recoiling from their touch - yes that does happen- they will show warmth.

Christian and Shannon will, however, ride the "special ed." bus. Their ride to school will be safe and Shannon will never be alone in school due to her disability, but Christian eventually may navigate the hallways alone sometimes. So, we'll see. In his mind I know he can't imagine that anyone wouldn't want to be with him. I know he'd understand if people were outright mean to him or outright teased him, but he might miss the subtlety of some teasing.

Well, onward and upward they go nonetheless and they, like many typical kids, will survive the trials and tribulations of school life to enter adulthood where everyone is just nice to each other. Yeah, well, fine - my rose colored glasses work just fine for me. How much kinder and gentler our world could be if we all wore them. Come on - try them for a day and let me know how that works for you.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Sleepless nights

My head is fuzzy - a couple of sleepless nights and a relentless sinus headache are dogging me. I'm having trouble focusing, so this may make no sense at all when I'm done with it. It does, however, remind me of a time when I was often alone with a very difficult baby and no matter how exhausted I was it was all me until Mark came home from work and I would practically throw that little guy at him before I collapsed. How generous he was to never complain that he might actually be tired from work. In my mind he had a 9 hr. break from the constant demands of this mega-baby I was dealing with.

Conor was over 9 lbs. 4 oz. when he was born. He was 12 lbs. by the time he was 3 mos. old. Thankfully I was a young 25 yr. old mother. My mother died when I was 19 yrs. old. I remember when Conor was born and I was alone in the hospital room with him. I had a conversation with my mom and remember saying - Look what I did Mom isn't he beautiful? How I wish I could have shared that with her and how grateful I am that I've been here to share it with two of my own children.

On Sunday we watched Conor wrestling around in the grass with Dominic, 2. How many many hours Mark spent doing the exact thing with all of our children. Seeing those simple acts repeated with the next generation assures me that the sacrifices we all make as parents are truly worth it. Although it's odd sometimes to think I have children who are parents - it is such a delight to experience.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

As Mark was driving Callie and Christian to speech this morning Callie started freaking out and pointing out the window - Statue of Liberty - Statue of Liberty! She has a bit of an obsession with Lady Liberty and knows she is in the New York Harbor. Well, the costumed SOL's are on every corner here advertising for the tax preparing company Liberty Taxes, or whatever.

It could be a long time till tax day for her - trying to figure out why in the world Lady Liberty is on the corner and not in the harbor. If anyone ever sees a child's size SOL costume - please let me know - however feeding that obsession might not be the best idea. Perhaps a small play size replica? Do you think Lady Liberty would enjoy singing songs from High School Musical with Troy and Gabriella? I'm sure Callie would find a way to make that work.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Bargain shopping for the homeless shelter

My Ella loves serving at Simpson's shelter - SHS - this past weekend she got to work beside her friend Samantha. I think the men we serve must just love to see younger kids there. They bring such life and joy in their serving. Good job girls!

My suggestion for this week's bargains are very specific to my church body. This past visit we thought of a couple items that are frequently running out there. One is hot sauce, which the men devour on almost anything we serve. This week at Cub there is Crystal hot sauce for $.59. So, just toss a couple of those in your cart and bring them to church and we'll stock them up when we go to serve again in June.

On May 13 our youth group will be making sandwiches for SHS which the men take with them as they leave in the morning. In the Cub ad this week there is a coupon for Oscar Meyer 12 oz. baloney or salami - limit 2. You can pick an ad up at the service desk. If you'd buy two packages and either freeze them till May 13 and either send them with your youth or get them to me and I will freeze them and get them there.

Happy Shopping!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter fun at the Reeves!

What a great Easter weekend! Sat. night we were able to serve at Simpson's Men's Shelter - the numbers were down apparently, but it seemed pretty full to me. We were wondering if a holiday weekend would keep numbers down or raise them up. I can't imagine not celebrating Easter weekend - whether you are a Christian or not - without family. How incredibly blessed I am to have so much family to enjoy.

At church Sun. morning Callie was a little wound up and I followed her around - we ended up on the opposite side of the auditorium from the rest of the family for a bit. How fun to have the perspective of what we must look like to other people. I thought - now there's a bunch of people who don't look at all like they belong together for any reason whatsoever. But belong to each other we most certainly do. Who but God Himself could have foreseen that these people together will make a family. How every grateful for that I am.

When we returned home from church I expected to smell that great roast in the oven smell - uh oh - no smell. In the rush of Easter dresses and such I apparently did not turn the oven on. Thankfully we also had a presliced ham in the fridge. So, into the microwave it went and we were good.

Last year a new tradition was born - the jelly bean war. We get to have our jelly beans, but after just a few tastes they are pummeled into each other and gross on the ground - no temptation there, well except for the 2 yr. old grandson who didn't care if they had dirt or grass stuck to them. The weather was just so very awesome - sunny and warm, such a treat on Easter in Minnesota.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Double coupon day at Rainbow


A good week - with 11 coupons for Gillette items which were $4 off for 2 items each and each item was $1.79. I was able to purchase 22 items and I actually have $4.78 left to donate.

The other items are those that I suggested on my last post to donate to your local food shelf. My total spent for this was $3.84. Pretty good - I still have $.94 left to donate, if you're keeping track :)

This Saturday night my church will be preparing dinner for the men at Simpson's homeless shelter. What a great way to prepare for Easter - worshipping our God by providing for His people. I'm greatly looking forward to it.

Hope your Easter week is full of blessings!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Eradicating poverty one coupon at a time for under $5.00

As promised I will give you a weekly idea of how to use your Sunday's newspaper ads to help eradicate poverty. Additionally I'm going to set a maximum of $5.00 a week as my goal. So, if you're willing to commit $20 a month - what's that a latte a week - I think I can help you fill at least one bag of groceries/personal items to donate. What have you got to lose?

The main two coupon inserts in the paper are called SmartSource and Redplum. In addition every store has their own ads and sometimes coupons. So, in this weeks redplum insert there is a $1.50 off coupon for Dove hair products. It is $4.00 at Walgreens and when you buy it you will receive a register reward which is basically Walgreens money for $4.00. You can then take that coupon and either turn around and purchase something else, or use it next time - it will be good until mid-April. So, with your $1.50 coupon and the $4.00 RR - register reward you basically got paid $1.50 to purchase the Dove product.

Next you need to go to Rainbow - preferably on Wed. which is double coupon day. They will double up to 5 coupons which are $1 or less in value. In the Redplum insert there is a coupon for skippy peanut butter .75 off for 2. When the coupon is doubled they will be $.75 ea. Also in the Rainbow as there is a store coupon for Green Giant vegetables for $.38 per can - up to 6 cans.

So here is your total
Dove hair product - free
Green Giant Vegetables - 6 cans for $2.28
Skippy Peanut Butter - 2 jars for $1.50
Total - $3.78

I'd love if you'd post a comment - especially if you gave it a try. I promise it'll put a bounce in your step :)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Eradicating poverty one coupon at a time

Today was a fun shopping trip to Target. I had 9 coupons for Gillette body wash or deodorant which were $4 off of 2. The containers were $1.79 each and so Target paid me $3.78 to purchase these items. The real beauty is I got them all for Simpson's Homeless Shelter where our church serves a meal about 8 times a year. I can't wait to take them there next Sat. when we serve dinner.

I'd love if I could get others on this bandwagon. I've filled several grocery bags with donations for the food shelves and the homeless shelter with items above and beyond what I need for our family - which obviously consumes a lot. Just think what we could do if we all banded together. What an amazing thing that would be to fill the food shelves and homeless shelter with donated items that barely touched the family budget.

If you're interested, you have to start saving the Sunday coupon inserts and, if you can, beg them off of neighbors and friends. Then check out a site such as for the items that are on sale and what coupons you need to receive them. It takes a little time, but after you've stockpiled a few weeks of coupons it starts to get easier.

My goal is to list one item a week that you could purchase for next to nothing and donate to the food shelf or shelter. Everyone's gotta shop - why not feel good about helping someone else out while you're doing it.

Proverbs 22:9 - He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor.

I'll post the item for next week on Mon. - wouldn't it be awesome if we could eradicate the needs of the poor one coupon at a time!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Mazel Tov!

This morning was going so well. Everyone got up and dressed on time. Mark is still gone, so soloing through the morning routine is tricky. Callie was a little off, had trouble falling asleep last night and woke early this morning which doesn't help. Ella and Jacob headed off to school and I put Shannon on her bus.

As I'm helping Christian get his shoes on in the dining room Callie passes me into the kitchen and I think - awesome she's going to get her shoes on. Then I hear a loud - smash - as she throws a juice glass at full force onto the kitchen floor. It spread from one end to the other of our very old and full of crevices and cracks hard wood floor. I immediately and firmly send her to time out and sit on the floor of the dining room. She starts her - that's wrong! Then spells it - W-E-D-R-N - WRONG! So, her spellings not so great, but she certainly understood it was wrong.

Clearly impulse control isn't one of her best traits. She just can't seem to stop herself, although after the fact can state that is was wrong. I swept and vacumned and shook out the rug, which I managed to finish before it was time to get Callie and Christian out to the bus. Christian seemed to understand I was harried and was well behaved - a nice side benefit.

After they left and I got my perspective back I thought well we should have just shouted Mazol Tov!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

New to me

Over the past month Jacob has been tested thoroughly by school. He is coming upon his 7th birthday at which time the school must officially "label" him. His previous label was DD or developmentally delayed which Mark and I have disagreed with due to his incredible ability to verbally express his emotions. We have 5 other children that truly fit the DD label and none of them are as capable of expressing themselves as he is. Frankly, I don't think I'm as in touch with my emotions as he is. Not even sure I want to be.

The official label is now SLD - specific learning disability. This is determined by a gap between his intellectual level and performance in school. Was no surprise to me, but it is new to me. Although Conor likely would have received a similar label, we were homeschoolers at the time and did not have him formally tested. So, it is our first foray into the LD world of school.

Last week Mark and Jacob spent the day at the zoo. Mark was a little skeptical of taking him as the last visit ended poorly as Mark had to carry Jacob out from the bowels of the zoo to the parking lot with Jacob kicking, hitting and screaming at him the whole way. Ella was along and humiliated as well as angry that their zoo time was cut short. However, this trip was a great father son time and Mark thoroughly enjoyed it. When they walked in the door the first words out of Jacob's mouth were - "I was bad" - which was said at the same time Mark was raving about what a great time they had. Since they were talking at the same time Mark didn't even hear Jacob and I chose to ignore it and praise him for all the fun they had. This is one of the parenting hurdles with RAD - reactive attachment disorder - kids. We seem to be constantly trying to reassure him that he is lovable and awesome even when he is acting most unlovable and unawesome.

Mark told me later that he asked Jacob what animal he would most like to be. "A turtle," he said, "Why a turtle." "Because I could go into my shell for protection." Whew - he is so very transparent, which is helpful, but also makes me so very sad. How do you convince a wonderful child that he really is wonderful - warts and all? All I know to do is to keep reassuring him with the same kisses good night we always have - Mama loves you, Daddy loves you, but most of all - Jesus loves you. How very grateful I am that that is true and hopefully Jacob will some day believe it to the very depths of his soul.

Monday, March 22, 2010

To stop it - we must name it.

A friend of ours has been borrowing our truck for the past few months and today called to tell me she'd been pulled over by our local police. They said the first thing they noticed was the front license plate was obscured. Next they informed her the owner's license was cancelled.

Now what makes this frustrating, to say the least, is that neither Mark nor I have ever been pulled over in this truck due to the license plate issue, which is the same now as it always has been. Secondly, Mark's license was just renewed this fall, so that is also odd.

So, you might ask, why did our friend get pulled over as she has many times before by our local police for equally shady reasons. My daughter-in-law, another male friend, a friend's daughter - what do all these friends have in common? They were DWB - driving while black.

No, all police officers are not racist, but the proclivity with which this happens is, frankly, astounding. To stop it we must name it - to ignore it means it will continue and I'd really like for my children and grandchildren to be able to someday drive, but not be pulled over because they are DWB.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


This past Sunday night I was once again privileged to serve dinner at the Simpson's Men's Shelter which houses @75 men every night. I am the leader at our church in the area of service and get to arrange our service projects. I love it and love that serving in the name of Christ is an act of worship to Him.

Every time we go I am filled with gratitude that I have never needed worry about where my next meal would come from or where I would lay my head that night. I am humbled by the men we serve and how they somehow find the strength every day to get up, go out and either look for work, work at their jobs - many are employed in minimum wage jobs, or just wander all day before they can come back to the church's basement and lay their heads. The mattresses they have on the floor of the church are very close to each other and a staff or volunteer takes turns watching over them every night for their safety.

Many of the men are plagued by mental health issues. As I was passing out cookies table to table I asked one gentleman if he'd like some, but he took no notice of me. He was quite disheveled, with very long and unkempt hair. Later he walked past me and was softly talking to himself. I wondered what it must be like for someone who is in the depths of mental illness. Does he realize it is happening or is it just "normal" for him? It seems as if it would be so lonely not to connect with other people, but does he feel a connection with what he hears in his mind?

It is always so wonderful to bring new people along to help and hear what strikes them. The gratitude and politeness the men express surprises many. I think how weary I would be to always feel as if I needed to thanks others for even my basic needs if I couldn't provide them for myself.

Today I am tired as I was up most of the night due to kid's needs. However, when they went off to school I climbed back into my bed and slept a couple hours. If the men at the shelter are ill, they still must leave at 6:30AM and wander or work till 6:30 that evening. Today, especially, I am very very grateful I am that my tired body has a place to rest whenever I am weary and I am thinking of the men to whom we served chili Sun. night and praying that they are warm and comfortable today and that someone shows them God's love today as we tried to Sun. night.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

So not fair!

Yesterday Shannon had an appointment with her back specialist. He's been watching her scoliosis for years and we had expected that eventually major back surgery would be needed, but thought we had at least a few more years before we had to deal with it. Well, yesterday's X-rays showed a 55 degree curvature - a 10 degree increase in 6 months. She has curves in 2 spots. She also gained 10 lbs. and grew 1 and 1/2".

Mark said he felt like he was punched in the stomach - just wasn't expecting it. It's not a great time for our family either with wedding plans and all, but that seems selfish to even mention when Shannon will have to deal, well has to deal, with so much pain so very often. She rarely awakens in the morning without crying from pain due to her cerebral palsy.

When my kids complain about something being unfair I often give the mommy answer - who said life was fair. But honestly, this is just so very very unfair.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Wedding Wedding Wedding

Our daughter Melissa set a wedding date right after Christmas and it's been busy busy making plans for that. Tomorrow we are going to tour the wedding and reception site. Mark and I were at a wedding there, but they have yet to see it - hopefully they will like it as much as we did. Of course, there will not be any snow May 28 - I know it's Minnesota, but that would definitely be ridiculous.

Last week I went to a fabric warehouse and amazingly found a bolt of fabric that matches the sash on her dress - it's called azalea, so kind of a dark pink. I was really excited to find it as I hadn't found anything close to it at the local fabric stores. So, now 6 little girl dresses to make and 2 bow ties for Chris and his buddy - it's a long story, but he has been collecting bow ties. I will also be making Melissa's daughter Kaia's dress which will match Melissa. Should be cute.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Beautiful Eyes

Yesterday Ella was invited to a new friend's house. She was in heaven as her friend has horses, among other things. A lovely home and only one older sibling - like going to Mars for Ella.

After she came home she was standing in the kitchen and asked me if I thought she had the most beautiful eyes I'd ever seen. I was taken aback. Of course I think she is gorgeous, but it's not something I often tell her. She said her friend's mom had made this comment about her eyes. A bit later I found her in the bathroom "smiling" at her eyes. That mom has no idea the impact of that simple statement.

In the world we live in it is blue eyed blondes which rule the beauty mark, so to speak. So for that mom to state - really the obvious - just made this mom and that 8 yr. old's day.

Friday, January 1, 2010

End of the year - End of the decade

As I was contemplating where I was 10 years ago I realized that although the years do fly by faster the older I get - I'm amazed at all that has happened this past decade. Our family doubled!

Ten years ago my oldest child was 25 - my youngest was 9. In this past decade we added 4 children, married off 2, had one experience a divorce and remarriage and welcomed 2 grandchildren into our ever expanding family. Perhaps the weirdest thing is that as we enter this decade our youngest is now 6. At this rate we'll never finish raising kids - which, I've learned this past decade, you never really finish doing anyway.

There is definitely a reason the Lord doesn't allow us to see into the future. How many experiences would we miss - both good and bad - if we knew the outcome beforehand. How many lessons would go unlearned and how very anxious we would be about life. If we doubled in the last decade - what will happen in the next one? OK - that is making me a little anxious.

I've was never a big fan of New Year's resolutions until I past my 5th decade. Somehow, goals seem more important to me now. Perhaps it's because I realize how easily a year can slip through your fingers and although my day to day life is generally set out for me, I do want to be a bit more deliberate through my days. It just seems in this family spontaneity is the key to, well sanity. If you don't make plans you can't be disappointed when they don't work out. This however has lead to a huge lack of a social life, because other people do plan. So, deliberateness, if that's a word, is a goal.

I probably have some of the same goals many people have - drink more water, eat better, lose that 10 lbs., exercise etc. Other goals I hesitate to state as I don't know if I have the true ambition to achieve them.

I always wanted to write a book, and have been told often I should write about our family - but so much of our story is personal and I'm not sure I want to share it nor that I should share it. I have a tendency to be too open sometimes and must remind myself to respect the privacy of my children and that their stories are just that - their stories. I've been telling Ella lately that she should keep a journal and write down some of her experiences growing up in this family. She has such insight sometimes and lives a life that really non of her peers could possibly understand. Perhaps that is my New Year's resolution for her.

For now, I think I'll stick to the goal of blogging on a more regular basis. I'm never good on the specifics of a goal, but let's just say - at least 4 times a week. I guess next year when I look back on this I'll find out whether I made it past the month of January. Goals are just that - goals. They are not finish lines right?

Happy New Year Everyone!