Sunday, February 7, 2016

our newest journey

And we're off on a new journey!

A little back story may be helpful...  

Our son, James, who we adopted from China almost four years ago when he was two years old, was born missing upper extremities; he has a partial arm/hand on the left side and no arm on the right side.  He was also born with fibular hemimelia (no fibula -- smaller of the shin bones) on his right leg.  It's kind of ironic because his medical records from China didn't mention him having issues with his leg at all.  Once we saw photos, we thought maybe he had a clubbed foot and figured we'd have it fixed and he'd run off and play!

It's turned out that James' greatest challenge is his missing fibula.  His lack of arms is virtually a non-issue.  He's a maniac!  :)

After more than three years of doctors' visits, a couple at Shriner's in Philadelphia and a couple at the Rubin Institute for Orthopedics in Baltimore, we decided in June that the best path for James was not amputation of his leg (which was recommended by some), but rather limb lengthening.  Part of the Rubin Institute is the International Center for Limb Lengthening.  We're so grateful to be only a three-hour's drive from there.  

This past week, we met with a team of surgeons, nurses and a PA in Baltimore and came up with a plan.  Finally!  We have a plan!  

Here are some shots of Jimmy Jam!  He loves to head out on a road trip -- especially when he gets Mommy and Daddy to himself!  And he had his new Build-a-Bear named Big Hugs who will accompany him through all his surgeries.

Headed in to meet with Dr. Herzenberg (Tuesday, February 2, 2016)

In preparation for his first limb lengthening, he will have surgery on March 8th.  This surgery will basically reconstruct his ankle (the 'Super Ankle' procedure) and knee (inserting '8 Plates').  Because the top of the fibula contributes to the knee and the bottom contributes to the ankle, James has an almost fused ankle and a patella (knee cap) that moves all over the place.  

This is a model of the external fixator used to stabilize and lengthen the bone after limb lengthening surgery

On Wednesday morning, before heading home, we were able to take a tour of the hospital where he will have his surgery and spend a lot of time over the next year.   

His drawing on the white paper table cloth at dinner.  It's him and us!  :)

A few pre-surgery photos

The hydro-therapy pool where he'll spend an hour/day after his limb lengthening surgery.

He was being such a trooper!  

Headed to the Children's Hospital to see the recovery unit (no photos allowed up there)

Here's a video that shows limb lengthening. 

After his surgery in March, he will be in a cast for six weeks.  We will be in Baltimore for the week of March 7th -- hopefully coming home that Saturday or Sunday. 

He's actually excited.  Only this kid!  :) 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

worst blogger ever

How have four weeks passed since we got home!?

In the blogosphere, that's a neglectful amount of time without a post (or in this case an update).  But, in real life, specifically this life, it's nothing.  I simply couldn't squeak out the time (or energy) to post.  Sorry for anyone who's been waiting with bated breath.  Ha!

In the most paradoxical way, we've been home a mere four weeks, but it feels like months.

We came home to the most glorious welcome by our friends and family.  The blessing of our community, who always rallies for us, never ceases to amaze me.  It's truly God's love in action.

Here we are at the airport.  Weary but full of expectation...our family of eight.

Christine was rather ridiculously showered with gift cards.  So many gift cards that I carry them in my purse in a wad with two rubber bands (one in each direction) wrapped around them.  It's actually a little uncomfortable when I've pulled out this wad at stores to pay for things.  I haven't had a store clerk ask me yet, but I can just hear her thoughts...'Geez, lady, what's up with the stash of gift cards?'  Or worse, she probably thinks they're black market or I stole them.  It's been super fun to take Christine shopping to get her things she wants and needs.  More on that below... 

My dearest friends wrapped up last minute touches to Christine's room that I didn't have a chance to tackle before we left.  The chicken wire board above her desk is full of photos of her with her loved ones at the children's home.  

Nope.  And I also didn't complete this sweet little collage either.  Yep, my girls-peeps.  My sisterhood of friends is priceless.  

I picked this up before we left town.  Cute, huh?

Then there were gift cards for our family...restaurants, Target, gelato, grocery stores, you name it.  Not worthy, I tell ya.

And our first night home, we had homecooked goodness delivered.  Two roasted chickens.  Omigosh.  Soo good.  With rice, of course.  :)

We hit the ground running our first weekend home and went to the Filipino Festival here in town.  We were walking zombies, but it's one weekend a year so we really wanted to take Christine and she really wanted to check it out.  Always happy to have Beverly join us!

Christine brought balut home from the festival.  Be sure to watch the video on what balut is and how one eats it.  Fascinating how different cultures are!

This is a delicacy in the Philippines.

But she was funny -- she wanted to wait until she got home to eat it...

...probably because she didn't want to be embarrassed in public by our reactions!

A week or so later, we visited the ER when Jackson was at a pool party and turned into the lifeguard stand and split his face open between the eyes.  

Love this kid so much.

His first time with stitches.  

An exciting find for us, and probably moreso for Christine, has been a Filipino market not far from our house.  We've been going once every week or two so she can stock up.

We had friends over who are adopting from the Philippines and Christine cooked up some serious grub...lumpia (spring rolls), chicken adobo, and fruit salad (fruit cocktail with sweetened condensed milk).  Super yummy!  We're excited to be enjoying this delicious fare on a regular basis.

Then, this little dude turned 6.  Kinda can't believe it.  When I think about the baby he was when we brought him home, I'm amazed at the child he is now.  He's such a honey!

Gramma, Papa, Sandy, Joe, and Bootsie came.  So fun to have everyone!

Brooks read the birthday boy his birthday card.  For anyone who has a child who's a reluctant reader, you know that's a triumph.

Bootsie surprised him with cash hidden in one hand...okay both hands!

He wanted an Oreo cake from Dairy Queen.  We surprised him with Payton's nickname for him on it...complete with her own unique spelling...HOMEZ.  

And before we knew it, the stitches were out!

Onto school open houses and Meet the Teacher.  James' open house included a practice ride (with a parent!) on the school bus.  Ya think he's liking school so far?  Just look at that FACE!  You wouldn't know it by Alex's expression, but they are thick as thieves.  

Then we went back that night to take Brooks and Jackson to meet their teachers and see their classrooms.  I've been praying for our Brooks...he had such angst about going back to school after being home for two years.  But while he was unloading his supplies into his cubby, he turned and said, 'Okay, now I'm excited.'  

He and his teacher, Mrs. Lawson.  Love that boy.  

Time with just my two girls and James...grabbing dinner at Chick-fil-A, of course.  Yep, our Little A had to get glasses to help see the chalkboard and read signs.  She loves them!

And before we knew it, it was the first day of school.  Praise Jesus (I am not kidding!) that the boys love it and are doing well.  Mornings aren't awful, they head off to school happy and come home happy.  Check back in a few months...  :)

This kid kills me.  Jackson.

His tender heart is precious.  Brooks.

His zest for life is incredible!  James.

The boys being in school has afforded the girls and I to have some extra time together.  It's been wonderful.  So what did they want to do on the boys' first day of school?  Head to the mall, of course.  Christine used one of her gift cards...

Beverly and Bootsie came to welcome the boys off the bus on their first day.  With Mrs. Yoders donuts to boot!  Love them!

Just a regular night at the dinner table.  Just want to capture these times...

We made our first visit to Busch Gardens since Christine's been home.  She'd never ridden a rollercoaster, but was READY!  She loved it!  

Getting James' rides in.  :)

These two and I hung out a lot.  We rode the train a lot.  The sky buckets a lot.  And ate Dippin' Dots.  The rollercoaster riders were wearing the coasters out while we did our thang.

Gorgeous sunset over the river.

And then shopping...

and gelato...

...and more shopping...

School starts for the girls next week and then we're really back to the swing of things.  

I'm ready to start working part-time.  I'm poking around here and there and have a few irons in the fire.  Praying that God will lay the path for the perfect gig for me.  It. is. time.  

Christine's excited to dive in.  She's doing really well.  She has her moments of sadness, but seems to rally well.  99% of the time, she seems to be settling in nicely.  We'll take it!  :)


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