Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Prayers Please--Updated

Today we started our Thanksgiving break!  I wish I could say that all I had planned was lots of eating and playing and fun.

Instead, Mei Mei will have surgery on her eyes.  She has exotropia, where her eyes "wander" out.

Sadly, many orphans have eye issues due to lack of stimulation in infancy--as an example, babies lie and look at the ceiling instead of focusing on human faces.

We tried patching Mei Mei's eyes for several months after she came home, but it didn't help.

Which was a bummer because she really, really didn't like patching.  Have you ever tried a patch over your eye?  I did one day to try to convince her that it wasn't so bad. 

I was wrong.  It's TERRIBLE.  But we still tried it.

So then we tried a wait-and-see approach, but her eyes continued to get worse.  So, poor sweet Mei Mei will have surgery tomorrow around noon.  Please keep her in your prayers.

(And oh-me-oh-my when I look at the picture above I can't believe how much she has grown in one year!!!  Fifteen pounds and 7 inches!  Wow!) 

Update: Out of surgery and doing well!  Thank you for the prayers!

The worst part was just waiting to go into surgery.  She gets so nervous and scared.  It's heartbreaking!  I did have on my pretty sequined shirt just for her--she always wants me to "look pretty!" everywhere we go and today I let her pick my clothes.  Patrick was also a request and he gladly obliged--such a sweet brother!

Ice packs help--her eyes feel scratchy more than painful. 

They look super painful with blood-tinged outer edges, and she currently has double vision which is a good sign--the doctor said it means they corrected her enough and it will go away as her eyes adjust. She's been eating and watching TV and enjoying some good old fashioned spoiling!

Also, Sally you asked about success rate.  We have two kids with strabismus and originally went to a pediatric eye care specialist.  That doctor didn't seem very confident with surgery outcomes. But then we took the advice of a good friend and decided to go to one of the best eye surgeons available--we see a doctor who has been practicing for decades and his specialty is strabismus at a highly recognized eye institute.  His success rate for esotropia (eyes turning in) is close to 100%.  Exotropia (eyes turning out) is trickier and his success rate is 80%, meaning there is a 20% possibility that Mei Mei might need another eye surgery in the future.  The eye surgery itself only took about an hour and involved cutting muscles in her eyes.  Without surgery Mei Mei would have very likely started to lose vision as her eyes were starting to turn out more and more.  The challenge with older kids is that vision loss can already begin, especially if only one eye is involved--both my kids have both eyes involved so vision loss didn't occur because the eyes "took turns" crossing and correcting.   Hope that explanation helps some!  Good luck!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Large Family Living: Bath Towels

I love it when an idea (finally) works.

Assigning bath towels.

I had tried it in the past with no success.  I would take the towels we already had in the house and try to divvy them up.  It never worked.  Even I couldn't remember which towel was whose.  And instead of towels being hung up so they could be used again, they would congregate in a pile of mildew in teenagers rooms.  Which meant a lot of laundry and a lack of towels.  And an unhappy laundress.

This time I bought each child 2 towels in their own designated color.  The towels were inexpensive and quick drying. 

I also hung hooks from the back of their bedroom doors. 

It's been working for well over a year now.  Shazam!  Less laundry is awesome! 

And the best part is, if I see a towel around the house, I know who left it there!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Too Old To Get A Job?

There's a reason I haven't been around here lately.

So, remember when I came rushing home from the campout, smelling like campfire, getting home just in time for a job interview?  (Don't try this at home kids.  Arriving at an interview with just enough time to get out of hillbilly mode isn't smart!). 

The interview seemed to go well.  But it was a very sought after position and I knew my chances weren't good since I would be a hire from outside the agency.  Still . . . I hoped.  It was half-time, which I really wanted.

And then there was another interview.  It was one of those weird interviews where you think that one of the people on the interview panel really likes your answers--and another person doesn't.  Or maybe they do but you just can't tell?  One of those interviews where you question your answers for days?

"Tell me about the worst mistake you've made in your life and what you learned from it?"  "Tell me about a time you had conflict in the work place and how you handled it?"  "Tell me about a time you faced an ethical dilemma and how you worked through it?" 

"Tell me about how often you change your underwear and why?"  Ha!

And then . . . I didn't hear about either position for weeks.  I was tormented waiting and wondering.  One was a half-time position but the downside for me was that I wouldn't have long-term relationships with clients.  The other one was full-time and seemed God ordained with some of the circumstances surrounding the application, plus I would be working in an office I was already familiar with and with co-workers I loved.  BUT, as I said, it was full time.  I wasn't sure I could swing fulltime--and most importantly I wasn't sure my kids could.  But I loved the complexity of the position and the fact I would have a long-term relationship with the kids I would be working with. 

I decided I would accept whichever job was offered first. 

Weeks went by.  No word.  I waffled back and forth between trying to trust God and just wanting to have an answer.  Now!  One night I just cried my eyes out saying I had probably been terrible in the interviews and I was probably just too old to get a job!!!!  Nobody would hire me at my advanced age!

And then . . . I got a phone call.  The half-time position!  Very near my home with flexible hours and working in the world of child welfare/adoption.  Wow!  And while I wouldn't have long-term relationships with kids on my caseload, a friend so aptly reminded me that half-time would mean I WOULD get to have more time for long-term relationships with my own children.  TRUE!!

And so, I'm officially putting my MSW to use!  I love it!  I have a great jobshare partner, a supervisor who is flexible and family oriented and . . . get this . . . I can ride my bike to work!

I work while my kids are in school.  I love the work I am doing!  It matches up with my skill set extremely well and every day is different!  I feel so blessed to be able to serve children and families in my community, while still having the majority of my time for my own family.  I know full well that many women do not get this choice, and I do not take that lightly. 

And for the record, a few days after I accepted the job, I was offered the other position.  I guess I'm not too old after all!

It's been one of the hardest years of my life, but my new job has been a high point.  And for that, I am very thankful.  Cheers to all of you for your encouragement and support these past few years as I finished my masters and applied for positions.  We really need to have that party!  Coffee's on me! 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Monday Night Football

Monday Night Football has taken on a whole new meaning this year.

When Will was home and all the kids were here together we put together a fantasy football league. 

This is serious stuff people. 

photo sent via i-phone - keeping me up-to-date
please note this beautiful d├ęcor takes a place of honor in the family room
It leads to weekly trades, teasing and game craziness.  Love it!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Little Chef

One of Hubby's traditions is to bake cookies when the nieces and nephews come to visit. 

And now that we have our first grandchild she gets a chance to learn Papa's secret recipes. 

I think she approves of her Papa's cooking!  And while I can't divulge the secret of his molasses cookies, I will share another family favorite.  Snickerdoodles!  From Betty Crocker's Cooky Book.

1 Cup Shortening (part butter)
1 1/2 C. sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 C. flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar (buy it in the spice section)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

In separate bowl mix:
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon

Heat oven to 400.  Mix shortening, sugar, and eggs thoroughly.  In separate bowl mix flour, cream of tartar, soda, and salt; stir into shortening mixture.  Shape dough in 1" balls.  Roll balls in the sugar/cinnamon mixture.  Place 2" apart on ungreased baking sheets.  Bake 8-10 minutes.  These cookies puff up then flatten out.  Double, triple or quadruple recipe as necessary :-)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Simple Pleaures - The Duck Pond

Sometimes simple is better.  It really is.  When our lovely daughter-in-love and Sweet Pea were here we wanted to do something fun.  We thought about going to the aquarium or zoo.  Instead, we decided to just do something local and free!  We went to Mei Mei's favorite hangout--the duck pond.  Precious memories of a wonderful day!  


Friday, November 1, 2013


We never got our pumpkins carved, but we enjoyed Halloween! 

It included a fun trip to a pumpkin patch complete with farm animals, big slides, and BFFs!

And Halloween brought a plethora of fun!  Patrick wanted to make his own costume.  His shirt said "Costume . . . Crazy Beaver . . . Beware Duck Fans." 

Paul always opts for having friends over in lieu of trick-or-treating.
It was a gorgeous evening without rain!  We had so many trick-or-treaters we almost ran out of candy!
One house in our neighborhood did run out, so they handed out pipe cleaners.  Had to laugh at that!  Love the creativity!

Happy Halloween! 

P.S.  Someone told me that Christmas is just around the corner.  I am going to ignore that information and delight in the festivities of Fall!  Denial is a wonderful thing!