Beautiful Life

Hey child up and go; A big world is out there waiting for us to live in every day. Outside you will find, there is love all around you; Takes you, makes you wanna' say; That it's a beautiful life and it's a beautiful world and it's a beautiful time to be here, to be here, to be here. -Fisher

Monday, September 29, 2008

A First...a second time!

Oh my gosh! It's too bad she isn't cute!

This smile says it all!

Okay, so she's stood in her crib before. But, this is the first time since her feet have been corrected! She doesn't have the strength to pull herself up or even to stand there alone-note the way she hung herself over the rail, but she wanted to be up there so I helped her. She is having to rethink how she does everything. Her brain wants to put that right foot down, top first, the way she has done it before. I actually had to show her that her feet have to be positioned bottom-down. Then she sat there and used her hands to put her feet in bottom-down position before she tried to stand up. It was so cute!

She spent a lot of time "practicing" her standing this weekend while my parents visited.

Now that her casts are off we can see just how much work we have ahead of us before this monkey is going to walk. She lost a lot of the little bit of muscle tone she had while she was in casts. Of course she was in them for over 13 weeks so she was bound to lose it! Unfortunately, it looks like she more nerve damage than I thought she did. She never moved her toes on either foot, and still doesn't and she always seemed to have reduced sensation in her feet. But now she also doesn't move her right foot at all. It just sort of hangs there and flops around at the end of her leg. I guess this could partly be lack of muscle tone, but it looks suspiciously like nerve damage.

I still think she will walk, not because I'm living in the clouds, but because she was so close before that I can't imagine she won't now. But, I do think it's possible that the road to walking may be long and uphill, and possibly full of potholes! Our prayers right now encompass being able to discern and make the decisions about this that will best benefit Claire. We will not know the extent of her handicap or the route to take until after October 7th and 8th when she has appointments with some specialists. She has a great cheering squad, thanks to all of you!

In the mean time, we are just enjoying watching her try to use her legs and feet. She re-mastered crawling and going up the stairs this weekend! She is totally enamored with her toes and wants you to see them and kiss them all the time, especially the purple one! She has some lovely bruising on that foot but she thinks the purple toe is wonderful! Thankfully, the swelling went down enough that we were able to start using her Dobbs brace at nap time and nights. At first, when she saw me get the brace down to put it on, she started saying "no fit, no fit!" but after I got it on and showed her that it did fit she was fine. Since then, she has given us no trouble putting it on and she does not attempt to take it off, though I know good and well that she is smart enough to get it off! She "help" to put it on! Today, I put her in the crib for nap without the brace, on accident, and she began to cry and call out "brace" and a bunch of words that I could not discern. The gist of it was, "hey lady, you forgot my brace and I want it now!" Did I tell you, she is very routine oriented! Don't deviate from the routine LADY! OKAY!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

What is it about 2 year olds....

That can turn a 67 year old man into a swing set and a zerberting machine!

Claire playing with my Dad today!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Potty Talk!

For obvious reasons, we haven't really been discussing potty training our soon-to-be three year old. What would be the point, right? She will not be "peeing" in a potty until she is old enough to be taught to catheterize herself into a toilet. According to the nurse at MUSC, this could be achieved when she is between 8 to 10 years old. And, from what we were told at the Spina Bifida clinic, Claire would most likely experience difficulty controlling bowel movements due to the same nerve damage that causes her to have a neurogenic bladder. When she is older she will need to be put on a "bowel management plan" to achieve social continence. Sounds lovely, doesn't it. But we are prepared to do whatever it takes to insure that Claire can have what is termed a "normal lifestyle". We committed ourselves to it when God said "that one, she's the one"!

That being said, toileting is something that has recently peeked Claire's interest. There are a lot of people in this house and she's seen some of them using that potty thing. Also, I personally noticed that Claire has been able to tell me that she is going to soil a diaper before she does so on a regular basis. I mentioned this to the experts at the spina bifida clinic and they brushed it off as if I was a wishful mother that didn't know any better. Okay, whatever! Claire and I can figure this out without them.

So, as we strolled through Wally-World the other day, Claire spotted potty chairs in the baby department. I asked her if she wanted one. She is a pretty decisive kid and general knows what she wants. If we are in the toy department she will spot a toy, I hand it to her, she plays for a few minutes and then hands it back and says "No". Not that I intended to buy it anyway, because we probably already have it at home! But, this time she wanted it so I loaded the posh pink potty into the buggy and away we went home.

As soon as we got there she insisted sitting on the potty until dinner time, proudly showing anyone that would pay attention. The boys were thrilled! :) "Mom, did you have to take her diaper off! Eewww!" She wanted the diaper off, she knows what is supposed to happen here. She kept saying "Claire go potty". Paul's parents were called to come over for viewing pleasure (they live across the street). Claire was only too happy to show off!

Well, first thing this morning Claire announced that she "go poopy". Now I knew she hadn't yet, because I had just put the diaper on and was holding her, so I asked if she wanted to sit on the potty and poopy. I sat her down and told her I would go make her oatmeal. I returned to check on her and she pointed to the door and told me to "go make oatmeal"! When I returned in a few minutes she said, "put diaper on". Okay, so I picked her up and what do you know, SHE WENT IN THE POTTY!!! We danced and sang and clapped and she looked nervous at us like we each had three heads! It was great! Then I gave her chocolate candy....... because that makes sense right? Then she danced and sang and clapped her hands! "CLAIRE GO POTTY"

Maybe this is a milestone, one the odds said she would never achieve. Maybe it's a fluke. Maybe she will do it again. Maybe she won't. Either way, we love her! Either way, we celebrate her!

No potty pictures but here are some new bath pictures! Is this the same girl that fought like a cat to get out of the tub and screeched when water touched her skin! Unless, it's rain, which she loves!?!?!

Still isn't crazy about having the shampoo rinsed out but doesn't scream anymore! Just whimpers and boy will she fuss at you if you get it in her ears!

She can't get her left foot wet yet so we are still taking modified sponge baths, but she loves putting her right foot in the sink (something that would have brought tears and shouts of "no, no, no" only a month ago).

She loves to make it "rain" and will even let me do a little on her head!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

It's been a long day!

Tried a little standing in the hotel yesterday. This was before the pain medication wore off!

It's been a long 36 hours, actually. Airtran had "mechanical difficulties" and was not able to get a plane into St. Louis to get us until 8:15, too late to get our connection in Atlanta. At least they were nice enough to give us a voucher for a hotel and breakfast. So, we got into Atlanta after 10pm, caught a shuttle to the hotel and collapsed into bed at midnight. Of course, Claire slept for 3 hours at the airport terminal and another 2 on the plane, so she was ready to PLAY! That did not go over especially well! Fortunately, she is such a compliant kid that I put her to bed anyway and she was quiet as a mouse.....except that she would move around and hit or scape her metal brace against the metal hotel crib! The poor thing had a hard time trying to get comfy in that contraption she has to sleep in for the next 3 years!

This morning I found that she had turned on her side and one foot is stuck up in the air because of the bar that separates her feet at shoulder width!

We caught our home-bound ride this morning and arrived tired, but happy. Well, I was happy. Claire was cranky and Paul had to race home, switch suitcases and hit the road. He had made plans with a cath lab in Myrtle Beach and had to get up there pronto!

Claire's feet look great except for some swelling in the foot that had the pin removed. As a matter of fact, the swelling is bad enough that we had to call the nurse today to get some advice because her Dobb's Brace was not fitting that foot. We have been told not to put her in it for a day or two and let the swelling go down first. She has very little muscle tone left so we have a lot of work ahead of us to get this girl back in shape for walking! Also, she still does not actually move her feet much or her toes at all. This has to do with nerve damage due to her spina bifida. We are not sure what help there is for this, if any at all, but if there is something out there, I will find it!

This is BEFORE!
Keep in mind that the foot on the right (her left foot) was turned out and rigid, not just laying to the side, the way it looks in this picture. She could not have turned it forward if she had wanted to without turning her whole body. That is the foot that had vertical talus. It is not the same as club foot but the treatment was similar and successful, thanks to Dr. Dobbs!


Aren't these cute little feeties! Both feet face forward just right! You can see the swelling in the left foot and the place where they took the pin out. She only had a pin in the vertical talus foot. The other foot was club and was corrected with 3 casts and a tenotomy! This is amazing folks! I know of parents who's children have major surgery or try serial casting with an inexperienced doctor and end up with a dozen or more castings! Dr. Dobbs was well worth every mile we have traveled in the last three months! He is worth every mile we will travel in the coming years for follow up. I will credit him and the help of the Shriners when this baby walks, and she will walk!

She had very chubby legs when we got her in China, but look at these skinny things! If you look around her knees, you can see all the dead, dry skin that I can't get off yet. I have scrubbed, but not all of it comes off. It looks like dirt and she looks like I never bathe her!!!

I don't have to tell you that Claire LOVES having her casts off. She wants to try out her legs and feet but they are very sore right now so she stops herself. We went into Walmart this afternoon and as I pushed the cart past the shoe department, that kid went nuts! "SHOES, MOMMY!" She wants a pair of shoes, real shoes, not soft leather slippers like she's worn all her life! I tried a few pair but I think we will end up at Stride Rite or Kassies Bros. Shoes. She has wide little feet with a large fat pad on top that won't seem to squeeze into regular shoes. Isabel had that fat pad too and she went barefoot for the longest time because I could not find shoes for her! So, our next quest is to find a pair of shoes that will make this baby happy!

Just for cuteness sake, take a look at this video of her singing "The Wheels on the Bus". I taught her the verses about the wheels, the driver saying "move on back", the baby crying "waa, waa, waa", and the mommies on the bus saying "Shh, Shh, Shh". She just likes the wheels and the mommies parts and gets very upset if she thinks you are going to leave out the "shh, shh, shh" part! (don't forget to turn off the music)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Drum Roll Please!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pre-surgery smiles

We were up-and-at-um way too early this morning, O'dark 30 if I recall! Anywho, we scooted over to the hospital via a catwalk from the hotel, through the Jewish Hospital and over another catwalk to St. Luke's! Dr. Dobbs stopped by the room just before she was taken back and we caught a quick picture with our hero!

Shortly after that, she was whisked away to the OR to have her casts and ankle pin removed. This took less than an hour from start to finish and Dr. Dobbs called the waiting room to tell us how thrilled he was with her new x rays and the how her feet looked! He said she may be too sore to put much weight on them for a few days but that she should be up and running quickly! She was then brought back to us and David from the brace clinic came by to bring us her specially fitted Dobbs brace. She will wear this brace at night but we were asked to have her wear it a little bit in the day for the first few days so she will get used to it.

She was thrilled at seeing her feet and kept lifting them up to look but when Mr. David put her brace on and she was NOT happy with that development! It is definitely different than having casts on and she was not as compliant as usual because the Anesthesia was still wearing off. Let me just say that she is not the same child when the Anesthesia is wearing off and poor Mr. David got an earful from her! She kept saying, "take shoe off!" but we distracted her with a popsicle and it wasn't long before she was investigating her new equipment.....or maybe she was trying to figure out if she could get out of it!



She can still move her legs but there is a different sensation because of the bar that keeps them at the same distance from each other. She is also extremely concerned because she can not see the toes of one of her feet. Her feet are placed at different angles because of the different deformity. The right foot is turned out because that is the position for a club foot and the other foot is positioned straight out because that is the position for a vertical talus. She can see the toes on her left foot but not the right one easily and this bothers her!

Now we are back in our room at the hotel getting ready to go. She is still in her brace and has recovered from the drugs for the most part, although she is still having a few moments. She sits in the window looking for buses and bicycles (her favorites) and singing the Wheels on the Bus but the next minute she bursts into tears and we don't really know why!

She also insists that she needs to "go for walk, NOW!", and she means she wants to WALK! So, I am about to take this brace off and if I get a chance I will update again today with pictures of her feet!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Safe Landing!

We landed safe and sound in St. Louis and I have to say, Claire is a wonderful traveler! Of course she is a veteran at this flying thing. Let me see....she has now been on 14 different planes! That's 14 take-offs and landings! Hello, that's a lot of frequent flyer miles, baby! And, she loves it. as you carry her on the plane she swings her arm and sings "going on da pane". When you set her down in the seat, she exclaims, "my seat, I buckle!"

Reading her books in-flight!

Anyway, we are here, we have eaten. We walked around in a lovely area downtown and found a Greek restaurant for dinner and a crepe place for dessert. YUMMY! Well, Paul ate Greek, I had a St. Louis treat-Toasted Ravioli. Ever heard of that? Well, I'm sure you have if you live out here, but that is not something this chick from South Carolina has ever feasted on until I came to St. Louis. I had to ask a waitress what it was back in June. It's breaded and fried ravioli and it is scrumptious! And, I don't even eat fried foods! Then we found a crepe place and I haven't had good crepes since I was a little girl. I Used to spend the night with a girlfriend, Marleen, and her mother made these amazing crepes on Saturday mornings. Well those were good breakfast crepes, but I had a dessert crepe tonight that was to die for!! It was Strawberries with chocolate and cream...............Oh my! I may have to go back there tomorrow before we head to the airport!

Now we are heading to bed.....because 6AM comes early out here, that's why! Actually, it will come an hour later but since we have to be at the hospital at 6AM then we really have to get up at 5:15, which is really 6:15 and that is close to 6AM which is TOO EARLY no matter where you are!

So, here is Claire, all squished up in the teeniest port-a-crib I have ever seen!

But I can't wait to see those feet.........I can wait for the smell though! Because that is not going to be lovely, I bet!!!! :)

And, here she is going to sleep....yeah right, who are we kidding!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Surprise weekend visitor!


Always studying!

As usual, I emailed to check on our Lizzie this week. Instead of getting a comforting reply about classes keeping her busy and a general "all's well" report, I got a one liner about a sprained ankle that was laced with desperation........ or exasperation, not sure which! Either way, it didn't sound good. "Grace" stepped off the curb to get into her Nana's car and got into a drainage hole instead! That is apparently what you get for trying to do your laundry off campus!

I checked in on her the next day and it was worse! Her ankle was really hurting her and she was going to hobble blocks to get to her classes. Her first class that day was near-by, but she was worried that she would not make it to her second class, several blocks away, without being disrespectfully late!

It so happened, her Daddy was working at a hospital downtown anyway! One quick call to him and he did exactly what I knew he would do! Yep, he raced over to the college......... because he was a man on a mission now! (insert Mission Impossible theme music here) Using the latest in technology, (a cell phone) he located the target, then circled on the one way streets near the campus until he got "the signal". At precisely the right moment......or close, he pulled up to the curb and whisked Lizzie away and around the corner to drop her at her next class. I half expected him to call me blurting out the code "Papa Bear has the cub, I repeat, Papa Bear has the cub" ! This would not be out of character for him as he frequently called me with similar codes when he would drive to the meeting spot to pick Lizzie up for weekend visitation. Yes, Lizzie comes by her humorous side, naturally! He then went in search of our college student's prefered lunch, Subway! He managed to find one, get the lunch and get back to the street corner in time to shuttle her back to her dorm. In the mean time, we issued the invitation that she was welcome to come home for the weekend to be "nursed" back to health with the help of her four loving, yet nutty brothers and sisters. She actually took us up on this offer! Of course, if she hadn't she may have had to survive off of Easy Mac because there was no way she could have gotten to the cafeteria for her meals without starving to death first at the rate she was moving!

We ended up having a really nice weekend! We took full advantage of the opportunity to indulge in a seafood extravaganza and I served crab legs and shrimp cocktail for Friday night's dinner! Everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves and it cost less than taking our whole crew out for chicken! Lizzie, ever the comedian, had us in stitches all through dinner and Noah almost managed to make root beer come out his nose....or should I say Lizzie almost made root beer come out his nose! Yep, we've got a talented bunch! The best part of her visit was actually getting to visit! She put in a lot of needed bonding time with Claire and I got our first ever pictures of ALL FIVE KIDS!!

A little ice, a support brace and some rest has done wonders for Lizzie's ankle this weekend and I am happy to say that though she is still gimping, she is doing much better. We sent her off well fed, well loved and well rested. She managed to visit, make us laugh, watch a few movie and get all her homework done!

I recently encouraged her that blogging could be a creative outlet for her....after all, she is a writer and a talented artist. I thought she could post her poetry or short stories and upload scanned drawings. Lizzie firmly believes that her dorm is haunted by playful ghosts and so she decided to start a blog that chronicles paranormal activity at the college! It is aptly titled The Ghosts of Berry Hall. Well, knowing Lizzie, no matter how serious she is, it will still be entertaining....because that girl is a riot I tell you!

Playing with "Izzie"

This video was taken in my kitchen which is horribly dark. I even refer to it as "the cave", so the video is also very dark. But it's cute just to listen to Claire interact with Lizzie.

(Don't forget to turn off the music at the bottom)

Tune in tomorrow for more adventures as the Mama and Daddy fly to St. Louis with Claire for the Great Reveal ! By this time Tuesday we will be boarding our flight home with her new and improved feet....made just for walking...and running...and dancing and climbing! Oh my!

Friday, September 19, 2008


from the jaws of death! Literally!

This little guy was snatched from the mouth of one of our little Pom-chis. Isabel let the dogs out and watched in "horror" as they chased this baby lizard around our deck. Roxy caught him and raced in the house, to eat him I assume. Isabel screamed at her and pulled him from her mouth! He seems to be in shock-I can't image why! But, Isabel carefully placed him in a lizard infested azalea in the front yard, hoping he would make it! Don't tell her, but I checked on him later and found him covered in ants under the shrub! YUCK! Oh, well. She tried.

And here is the culprit, Roxy, looking rather remorseful I might add!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Face Lift

Okay, so I got bored with my blog. I was checking on a blog I hadn't visited in a while and noticed that it had a new background. There was a nifty little link at the top of the blog that said "free backgrounds and more @, so I couldn't help taking a peek! Well, I got on that site and wouldn't you know it.........the next thing I know, I'm giving my blog a little face lift! It turned out to be very easy. The girls, or guys, over at The Cutest Blog On The Block had a step-by-step tutorial on how to change the background and BAM it was done! Of course, then I had to go in and move some things back where I had them and change the font colors because I didn't care for the pre-loaded ones, but blogger makes that easy too!

Well? What do you think? I haven't decided yet...but that's the best part! They had so many FREE backgrounds over there that I can change it again.....and again.......and again!

I think blogging may be addictive! Does anyone know a 12 step plan for this?


Two very cute, very sweet, boys with blonde curls, chubby cheeks and hands and bright blue eyes!
They got into a lot of when Noah got out of bed and sprinkled an entire bottle of baby powder all over everything in his room, including his brother, who was still in bed! But they were always helpful when they gave each other haircuts or when they painted their sister's room for her!
They've been missing for a few years now and I'm starting to think they aren't coming back!

Has anybody seen these guys lately???
Parker and Noah '98

Now when I go looking for someone cute and helpful, I get this!

Parker's "excuuuuuse me" look

Noah's "Do what?" look

Okay, they are still cute and usually helpful, but they are full of pre-teen attitude and these guys are armed to the teeth!

Yes, those are knives and swords laid out on their bed. I don't know whether to feel safe or be terrified!

Based on these lunatic looks that come over them whenever they are talking about or looking at their extensive (for 11 year olds) weapons collection, I think I may have to go with feeling a little bit of CONCERNED TERROR! And their Dad thinks they are ready to start a gun collection!!??!!

Where have my little guys gone?

Apparently......they are not coming back.

But when I miss them a whole lot, I sneak into the other boys' room, you know, the big guys in the other pictures, and I snuggle with them, because sometimes they look and act a little like my little guys....late at night....when they are sound asleep....just a little!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Please Pray

I do not know this family, but now that I am home with Claire, I know how easily it could have been us going through something like this. Susannah is fighting for her life, while her parents try to get her home to America where she can get the medical help she desperately needs. Please use the link to visit this blog and pray for Susannah!

Monday, September 15, 2008

My two front teeth!

Another morning in the dentist and just look at my new smile. Claire has matching front teeth now and she says, "teef fixed"! Dr. Galloway bonded her chipped tooth to prevent an abscess or any pain because the chip was very near to the root of that tooth. Now, we are done with the dentist for a while. Hurray!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Simply Saturday

With Paul out of town on business this weekend, the kids and I had no big plans. We had a lazy morning and then did some light housework. But mostly, we just enjoyed a simple day. The boys did a lot of reading, which is one of their favorite activities. Isabel played with Barbies, when she wasn't searching baby name books for names for our next child! WHAT? Yeah, she's convinced that we are soon going to adopt a boy and a girl from AMBIOPIA!? Where? I finally figured out that she meant Ethiopia! OH MY GOODNESS! Before anyone gets any ideas, we have no plans to have any more children.............anytime soon. :)

Late in the afternoon, we went out for some exercise.

Hmmm... well, Isabel got some exercise!

Most of our weekends are filled with kids sports activities, errand running, home improvement and yard work. Don't worry, I'm sure we'll be back on tract soon! But today.....

today we just hung out and hung around.

Our week days are so crazy these days with homeschool for 3 children, activities for Claire, doctor's appointments and just keeping up with the house. I got the chance to just breathe today and think about how thankful I am for everything. All the children are healthy, Lizzie is having the time of her life in college, Paul is employed (so many are not right now), we have a roof over our heads (and it isn't leaking anymore!!), and food in the pantry. "Plus also", (can you tell, I've been reading Junie B. Jones to Isabel!) we have wonderful family and friends for support and that is the "bestest thing I love!"...what more could I ask for! Oh, for Paul to come home! Hurry honey, we miss you!

Friday, September 12, 2008

A little help!

I had a little helper in the kitchen tonight!

Painting the olive oil on the crust -

whole wheat, all natural of course! :)

Spooning on the sauce.

A little cheese for the pizza.

A little cheese for Claire!

Placing each little black olive

Pizza! Yummy!

I wonder if she ever did that before?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Nothing definitive

I was hoping for a yes or no answer yesterday, but I did not get one. Understandably, this guy does not want to rush Claire into a surgery when she is clearly doing very well right now. While she did run a low temperature on Tuesday evening, it went away on it's own very quickly. And, though she did have cloudy urine, which did not clear up, it also did not get progressively worse. Those were all good signs! One symptom, which you would think would be good, is not. Claire remains completely dry between catherizations. This is very uncommon with neurogenic bladder unless you are taking medications, like Ditropan, to relax the bladder muscle so it can hold more urine. Dr. A. believes that she does not "leak" because she is still refluxing. And, that is not good.

At our last visit, Dr. A put Claire on a regimen of twice a day antibiotics for a period of 30 days. He intended her to refill this bottle and continue on, but he failed to put a refill on the prescription so I thought he meant for her to stop them when the bottle was empty. She did and he was impressed that she did not have a full blown relapse but he thinks it is best if she stay on prophylactic antibiotics. So, we are back on Furadantin, but only once a day now to see how she does with that.

He is "cautiously" hopeful that her reflux and the condition of her ureters will improve with antibiotics and CIC (clean intermittent catheterization), but he still feels that in the end, she will benefit from ureteral reimplant surgery. If she has another UTI in the next three months, then it's a done deal. Otherwise, we continue as is until December. On December 3rd, Claire will go in for another renal ultrasound and VCUG (voiding cystourethrogram). This test will check the condition of her bladder and ureters as well as expose the level of reflux she has. The first time she had this test she was at a level 5 on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the worse! Many children improve once CIC begins but I say the Doc is "cautiously" hopeful because he admitted that a lot of damage was done to Claire's bladder and ureters during her life in China and he isn't entirely sure that she can recover on her own. He also feels that while her kidneys are still in good shape, she lost some kidney tissue to damage (this was the first anyone mentioned of this) and he doesn't want her to sustain anymore damage caused by continuous reflux and infections.

So, I guess my answer is.....we still don't know. He sounds like he really feels she needs the surgery but he wants to give her body some time to heal itself first.

One question I am often asked about all this is "will surgery cure her condition?" The intention of the surgery is to eliminate the reflux issue. There is not a "cure" for neurogenic bladder. The nerves that control Claire's bladder were damaged as a result of her spina bifida. In other words, she was born this way. At this time, there is not a way to repair those nerves so there is no way to "cure" this condition. It can be managed and many, many children and adults do just that. As Claire grows older, she will be able to learn to catheterize herself. Though I have exposed her "secret" to all our family and friends, not to mention strangers on this blog, theoretically, she could go through her adult life without her friends even knowing unless she choose to bring them into the loop. It is my hope that she grows up to understand that God made her this way and that it is nothing to be embarrassed or upset about so it doesn't matter who knows. Realistically, I know she will go through a time when she doesn't want everyone discussing these aspects of her life. But for now, we act like it's nothing unusual. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think that's a healthy attitude. I just have to hold onto the thought that the Father chose us for her and that He knew how we'd parent her. Hopefully He won't let us make any mistakes that can't be rectified!!

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

~Psalm 139:13-14

Our happy girl!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

She knows plenty of English now!

Yesterday she pointed to her nose and said, "see booger!" Hmmmmm....I wonder where she learned that? I could take three guesses and probably get it right all three times! Here's a cute video of her playing with her babydoll before nap yesterday. She can be talking up a storm and when I get the camera out she clams up, but I got a few words on here. Have I told you lately that I LOVE being this kid's mommy!

(Don't forget to turn off the music)

Today is the day that we have our follow-up visit with our urologist. At our first visit, Dr. Aaronson believed that the reflux of urine back into Claire's kidneys was a major contributor in the fact that she could not get over that nasty uriniary tract infection. He seemed pretty certain that she would need surgery to reimplant her ureters at a different angle on her bladder to prevent the reflux. But, he wanted to put her on antibiotic therapy first, just to see if it would clear up and if she could keep it away. Well, after 30+ days on antibiotics, Claire had her last dose on Friday morning. Last night, the low grade temperature that has been present preceding all other UTIs, returned. This morings urine was cloudy and that is a tell tell sign of UTI. The indications are that she will need the surgery after all. I am mentally prepared for this outcome, but I'm always up for being pleasantly surprised so I will wait for the Doctor's evaluation tomorrow. I would love for her not to need anymore surgery, but if it will help her stay healthy, then I'm just so thankful for the medical knowledge that will provide that opportunity for her!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Had a good day.........

Claire did not! Her day started with an early morning trip to the dentist for some of that dental work she needed. I have to say, I don't know how my working friends do it....getting up at the crack o'dawn and getting kids off to school. I think getting up before 7am is barbaric! But, I did it....had too. I got up at 6:30 *gasp* and got myself dressed with hair and makeup (I'm a simple girl so it doesn't take long) before getting the kids up at 6:45. The kids thought I'd lost my mind getting them up 15 whole minutes early! Good grief! I think they are a little spoiled. Once, early in our homeschooling journey, I got tired of having them complain about how early they had to get up, so I got them up at 5:45 like our good friends Nick and Maggie. I made them get dressed, make their beds, eat breakfast and go to the car. Then we sat in the car for 30 minutes to "get to school" because in our traffic, it could take that long. Of course, they thought I was nuts that day but they didn't complain for quite a while afterwards! Clearly they have forgotten this lesson and we may need to have a little refresher course!

Anyway, I left the house at 7:15 for a 7:45 appointment that is 15 minutes from our house but we have traffic to deal with at that ungodly hour so......I was still late! Claire was not particularly crazy about this plan as it did not involve her oatmeal which she kept asking for. Sorry baby! When we got there, they ushered us to a dimly lit room, had me sign some waivers and then gave Claire some liquid sleep. None of my other children have had this experience, so this was a first for me. I made them go to a regular dentist and go under the drill holding my hand. I know, horrors! But, Claire is different because she is a little younger then they were and because I can't explain to her, in words that she would understand, what is going to happen or that it will all be okay. So, she had her drugs and within 20 minutes I knew for certain that she was Paul's daughter. She got louder and louder! Most people won't believe this, because she seems so shy and demure, but she was demanding water and oatmeal and she was doing it very loudly! Then she began looking around in my purse and asked "where bicycle go? where helmet go?" Uhhhh, in the garage? Finally, she drifted off and we took her back to "the room". Seriously, she did great, especially considering she woke up long enough to realize that they were strapping her to a board like papoose thing in the chair. But she drifted off again after a few minutes of gas and the Dr. got two cavities filled and all her molars sealed.

Here she is modeling the "nose guard" she wore while they gased her. Pink of course! It smelled like bubble gum. She decided that it is a "cup" and wants us to put water in it!

The great thing, is that I left the boys at home with their assignments and sent Isabel across the street to her grandparent's house (how convenient is that!) with her assignments and when I got back at 10:30ish, they were done with everything but science and a spelling test! Yay for that! And we got to watch a really cool creation science video that I bought at the Creation Museum this summer but we had not had time to watch! They got so much done that I had the boys write a poem that was not even in our lesson plans for the day...but don't tell them that!

Here is my daughter, the human pretzel!

Friday, September 5, 2008

They're back, safe and sound!


Those of you that know me, know that I don't actually fight with children over food. I found that it is not necessary. They may not eat everything I'd like them to, but not one child under my care has ever attempted to starve themselves when offered food!

That being said, I thought I'd met the pickiest eater ever when Lizzie came into my life 16 years and 5 months ago. At 18, she eats far more variety than I ever would have predicted when she was 2 and her medley consisted of hot dogs, cheese toast, corn and peeled grapes-peeled, not because that was the only way she would eat them, but because that was the only way Paul would serve them, but that's a whole other post! And, I thought the strangest thing was Noah's love of tomatoes. I mean LOVE of tomatoes. That boy will eat an entire tomato, like an apple, and he'd do it everyday if we had enough tomatoes around here! He sneaks tomatoes like other kids sneak cookies....very weird!

But Claire has managed, in the last three months, to win the award for strangest and pickiest eater in our family! When we received her, we asked for a list of things she ate and favorite foods. The answer we got from her foster mother was that she ate steamed buns (dough filled with a meatball concoction and steam cooked), rice and dumplings as her main food everyday. That she liked eating fish and meat and got them with fresh vegetables everyday. Foster Mom listed her favorite foods as "green vegetables, eggplant, fresh kidney beans and meat but she never eats animal livers" (Yuck! Good thing!) "Her favorite fruit is bananas, apples, watermelon and so on" and for Breakfast, "milk, cookies, cakes, congee. She is not picky". Those were her exact words. "She is not picky"!

Okay, this seemed like it would be helpful! Right? Well, it was for a few days. The first few days she ate just about anything we put in her mouth...except meat. Oh yeah, and vegetables, fruit, milk. Okay, the only thing she ate was noodles, dumplings and steamed buns! At least the noodles had egg in them and the dumplings and buns had meat in them. Of course, she usually pulled the meat out first!

The most fun thing was to watch her eat chicken congee at Lucy's restaurant in China. Everyone got a kick out of it because she had a talent for taking a mouthful, chewing it up, swallowing all the rice and then spitting out all the chicken pieces! By-the-way, congee is just soupy, overcooked rice. Oh! And she smells her food before she eats it! Did I tell you that part? She only does it when she doesn't recognize the food now, but she did it every time when ate in China. Is it cultural? I didn't see the adults doing it.
Since getting her home we have been able to establish that she does not like meat or fish....except when Papa Stroud makes ribs and then that's all she eats! I don't get it. Or, when Meme Stroud makes crab cakes. Maybe she doesn't consider crab as meat? "Loves green veggies" yeah, right! We've tried beans, peas, broccoli, salad greens, spinach, asparagus....well, then I stir-fried some zucchini and that did it! So for, teriyaki stir-fried zucchini and raw cherry tomatoes are the ONLY veggies she will eat. We've been a little more successful with fruit. She has eaten strawberries, bananas, apple, grapes, blueberries (if Papa Shaw lets her pick them herself) and on ONE occasion, she ate watermelon. But, just because she eats something today, does NOT mean she will eat that same thing any other time in her life! Trust me! And, just because she won't eat it today doesn't mean she won't love it tomorrow! I can not figure this chick out!

Will she eat rice? Yes and no. Will she eat noodles? Yes and no. Dumplings? Your guess. Her staple seems to be Flax-n-Oats oatmeal, which she will eat every morning....if I make it right! Paul made it one morning and she wouldn't touch it. Ate a pop-tart instead! Loves boiled eggs...this week. She ate bagels and cream cheese for breakfast every morning while we were "on vacation" in St. Louis this summer but won't touch one here at the house. Give her a cheese stick and she's a happy girl, but yogurt has good and bad days around here. And, don't waste your time ordering CHINESE FOOD because she doesn't like that any better! Have you ever seen a child that wouldn't eat a chicken nugget? I just scratch my head! She's a mystery.

But she's happy and healthy and she knows how to use those chop-sticks when she does eat!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

This just in...

Claire's New Feet!

Paul and Claire are in St. Louis right now. They flew out yesterday and will be back tonight. She needed another cast change and this one did not require a trip to the OR, which was good, because that meant Paul got to SEE her feet. This is the first time any of us has seen her feet since the tenotomy on July 18th that left them fully corrected. These are pictures he took with his cell phone this morning. The pictures aren't great but we get a sneak peak at what we will be looking at for good in just 3 weeks!
Now, just get home before the weather takes a turn!!!