Sunday, December 21, 2014

Happy Birthday

Our sweet princess Penny just celebrated her first birthday as a beloved daughter, cherished sister, granddaughter, and friend. And somehow, I still think I've gotten the best gift :)

Happy Birthday, sweet girl!!  Mommy and Daddy love you very much!!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving and Thankfulness

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. Psalm 100 v4 (NKJV)
 
Today, we give thanks with three precious new family members, on their first thanksgiving. And I am thankful.  From our home to yours, a blessed thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Pen's First Civics Lesson

And she says, "If I can get out and help momma vote, you better vote too!" :) 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Thoughts on Orphan Sunday


Orphan Sunday

The first Sunday of November is Orphan Sunday; a time for the church to collectively draw her eyes and heart to the plight of orphans at home & abroad.

 

God’s word speaks plainly to His concern for the welfare of the orphan, Isaiah 1:17 calls us to Defend the cause of the fatherless… a theme repeated in the James 1:27, which identifies pure religion as that which looks after the orphan and the widow in their distress.  Our own salvation through Christ has allowed us, who were spiritually orphaned, to become the adopted sons and daughters of the King of kings and Lord of lords. Knowing this should lead us to appreciate His concern for those both spiritually and physically orphaned all the more.

 

Just over 2 years ago, our family embarked on a journey to be obedient to the call to care for just one, and then two orphans. As God has led us on this path, We have been privileged to watch two forgotten children blossom into beautiful, beloved daughters and sisters.  God has expanded our physical family, and He’s expanded our community through relationships with other adoptive families.  Within our family and within these community relationships, we have laughed and cried. We’ve met milestones and exceeded expectations. We’ve screamed with frustration, gone without sleep, drank coffee by the pot-full, and zeroed out bank accounts.  We’ve experienced immense tangible blessing and felt the oppressive weight of intense spiritual attack.  We’ve watched the restoration of that which the locust have stolen…and we’ve cried when we realized that which is gone and will never be restored until that day our children are whole & healed with the Lord. And we have held each other up when our children’s physical bodies could no longer bear the effects of the suffering they had endured, and they were released home to Christ’s loving arms, whole & healed.  We’ve shared the Gospel. We have lived the Gospel. And while many try to paint us as extraordinary, daily we are emptied of our very ordinary selves, for the privilege of being filled by Christ.  We are not extraordinary, only extraordinarily tired :) And blessed.  So blessed are we, that no longer can our call be to one or two orphans. Though we may or may not ever individually adopt again, our eyes cannot turn from those who are left behind, and, as commanded in Isaiah, we can no longer cease to defend the cause of the fatherless.

 

So, if we may be so bold as to exhort you, please join us in praying. Praying for those children who wait. For those families called to them. For the authorities in positions at all levels of government with influence over their well-being. And for the Body of Christ, who may be outside these spheres, to recognize their ability to care for orphans without ever adopting, and thus fulfilling the command of God.

 
 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Coffee time

I need to blog more...hence, I need more coffee :)

Monday, April 7, 2014

It's the Final Day!

A note from Amy Rainy of Hidden Treasures Auctions:


"Greetings on a very drippy, wet morning.  At least, it is pretty soggy around my house!  If you need a ray of sunshine, stop by our Beautiful Brandi auction and see the lovely items that are up for bid this month.  I have to tell you, many of the items have bids well below their value.  Bidding has been slow this week.  Could you please take a moment to stop by?  If you bid earlier in the week, it is time to check up on your bid to make sure that it still stands as the highest for your item.  Thank you for once again being a part of the team that works hard to bring another precious child home!

 

http://hiddentreasuresauction.blogspot.com

Blessings,

Amy Rainey"

Beautiful Brandi
 

 

Please swing by and support this family and bring sweet Brandi HOME.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Growing by 6 feet, 17 lbs, and other amazing feats....

So, we've been busy little bees over here at Casa de Zinger. Since our one month update, we have continued to grow...lots. ;-)

 

6 Feet

Yup, six feet of growth, in just under two months. What, you can't do that? Well if you count these piggy toes
peek a boo!


And those ones that go here
First cookout

And then these
itty bitty baby toes
 
Belonging to
Julia Faith
Well now, that's 6 feet. (and 30 toes!)
 
 
Miss Julia Faith arrived bright and early on the 15th. After labouring at Nathaniel's basketball end of year shindig (and watching not-so-baby Baby Grey flirt shamelessly with the cheerleaders, oh my!) and wondering was this for real...yup, first contraction at home, it was for real. We had a beautiful home birth, and she was born "under the caul" which is something I was totally unfamiliar with, but is apparently super duper cool!
 
 
Little Miss Sunshine

 

Now, in case you are wondering about the 17 lbs......

Penny has gain slightly over 5 lbs, now weighing in at a fantastic 27 lbs, 5 oz, as of last Monday. Julia, who was a oh so petite 7 lbs, 6 oz at birth, is weighing 9 lbs 2 oz at not quite 3 weeks old. I produce butter, it would appear. Fanny-banannie is up to 32 +, bringing our grand total to 17 lbs.... Pen continues to do well with her tube feedings, and we got the all clear to both 1) begin cycling the feeds, and 2) reintroduce some oral feeding. Bring on the return to a sense of normal, or at least included, at meal times. I know she's getting fed 24/7/365 and gaining, but it kills my momma's heart to not offer her anything at the dinner table. :( She does not seem to care....even a tiny little bit, so we'll see how eating again goes. At least it is no pressure.
 
Fanny's glasses have arrived. She's so not feeling the love. I had hoped for a ahh-haaa moment of realization and never to be removed again. Well hope's free.... Not so much. The glasses are a bit awkward, particularly for her super narrow face. The lens are inclined to hit her lashes too. Honestly, this would drive me stark raving mad, so I can imagine her relative reluctance. And, it is a huge, overwhelming, rush of stimuli when one goes from seeing nearly nothing (except dessert across the table, because girlfriend can spot that!) to ev.er.y.thing! So we are working on it a bit at a time. She got an all clear from orthopaedics this week, will see GI and nutrition soon (but the food spitting is reduced, PTL!), and hopefully neurology as well. She remains a general enigma, and it is at times very, very hard to not have what feels like the first earthly clue what it is that she wants or needs. We have found a few likes though, including calorie bomb pudding (Daddy's special concoction and the likely impetuous of the 3 lbs of weight gain), latch board puzzles, books that play music, Aunt Stormy's music time, Toby Mac with Sarah (dancing like you ought to be playing Cotton Eye Joe, but I digress), and the park. Here's proof:
Fantastic Fanny rides again!
She got on that ....uhhh rocking bug? all by her sweet self, and figured out how to ride it too. Big girl!
Pen is also enjoying music, particularly at church during praise and worship, though perhaps not so much Toby Mac (however George Straight made her pretty giddy!) She's fascinated with the piano, as is Julia, who gets lulled to sleep when Sarah holds her and plays. Penny actually touched the piano, which was cool.  She's not so much sure about hair bands....and really likes Nathaniel.
 



Sorry, last one is blurry, but I was sure I had about a second & a half to capture that one. She's adjusting nicely to Julia-aka Squeaky Pink Interloper. She was not so sure initially. Which was a bit astounding, but I guess, from an attachment standpoint, being peeved about the new little twerp that is on MY MOMMA'S lap, is a beautiful thing. Who knew?  It is improving though, really:
Oh yeah? Well, let me tell you about.....
 
*Sigh* And that, dear friends, probably is all that is new in my world. Today is Iain's 9th birthday, and we are off to go enjoy some fantastic ice cream cake and dinner at the corral. Be blessed!
 
PS-Don't forget to head over to Hidden Treasures for the Beautiful Brandi support auction. Everything wraps up on the 7th, and this sweet girl needs to get home ASAP! She looks to be as fragile as Pen (I wasn't lucky enough to meet her) and she is soooo much younger, so some things that we are facing now that are not correctable, do NOT have to be a part of her future! Please support their family as you are able!
 
 




Wednesday, March 12, 2014

One Month Home

I really had marvelous visions of a detailed, picture filled update of sorts for 1 month home. Yeah, you get a post. Sorry. ^_^

Life is exceptionally busy, but GOOD. We are finding a bit of a routine, that I know will be chucked soundly out the window if/when baby should ever choose to grace us with her presence. (Don't ask how late I am, you don't want to know and I don't want to dwell on it.)  Today might have been some sort of small scale miracle with nearly all school done before noon AND a walk in, before the wind & rain really picked up.  I don't envision a repeat performance, but I will simply enjoy it. ;-)

Penny is growing, up to 25# on an unofficial stand on the bathroom scale and peek down, try to see your feet weigh in. She's outgrown clothing (whoo-hoo!) and really showing us her personality. She looks like a bit of a doll baby, but girlfriend has got her own opinion on lots of things. Like being put down, or in her high chair (boo-hiss) and playing kissy-faces with Sarah (yea!) Her GI tract finally seems to have found a happy medium. Praise Jesus!!!

Fanny also seems to have put on a pound or two! She's confidently cruising the house, made friends with the Ellie the kuchen dog, and has found all the places I like to hide my coffee. Her eye exam was enlightening. Her previous glasses were about 1/4th the strength she needs....and what she needs is a special order miracle lenses set in an indestructible frame. I think we have it, and we are just waiting on them to arrive. You can bet that we'll be video taping her first look at the world!!!

The rest of the household is adjusting. All things considered: 2 weeks gone, another 10 days in the hospital, food spitting (ahh, Mr. Grey baby thinks this is fun to copy. Nay little man, big time NAY!), toy chucking, counter clearing, and some scary seizures, we are doing Ok. Making individual time is becoming of epic importance, and I am reasonably sure I am doing it imperfectly. But we are surviving, and none of us seem that much worse for wear. Watching the original crew just rejoice as the girls are able to accomplish some new thing, is an unimaginable joy to my heart. It's hard, I'm tired, and nearly co-pay broke. And this is TOTALLY worth it.

I am not sure if it is blogger or my computer (and I suspect the latter) giving me fits, but nothing is loading/uploading tonight. I will add photos soon, I promise!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Home at Last, Again

Somewhere, there is an English Grammar teacher reading that title and twitching. I am quite convinced of it, in fact. It might even, possibly, be worse than Mr. Verbal-not-a-furball ;)

But, the title is fitting. We are all home again under one roof. Penny was sprung from the hospital Thursday evening and other than another solid 24 hours tracking down medications all over Richmond (Don't you have another pharmacy you use regularly....uhhh, lady, we have 2, and I *think* that's still generally considered 1 too many, but I digress....) Thank goodness for the compounding pharmacy, who's worked some magic making medications NG compatible and ALSO searched all over to find anyone who carried 1 med in particular, without regard to them not making the sale. You don't get that too often.  Other than still being ever so prone to constipation (well beyond that which a dose of mag sulfate daily can reverse, so Momma snagged miralax last night), Penny is tolerating her medications and feedings well, and thankfully the uber-sedating effect of the one seizure medication is abating somewhat.  Time up in her chair seems to be almost like gym workouts-we have a good day, up for now nearly an hour at a time, but the next day is a total recovery day. I don't know where the tummy is backed up factor plays into this as well, versus simply being a strength/conditioning/tolerance issue. Today we feel crummy enough however, to think that a couple hours at church was not in the cards. We'll just have to catch Truth for Life on the internet later, and call it church at home for today!

Other exciting news, in snippet form:
Nathaniel's basketball team finally won their first game! Now 1 & 5 on the season, we celebrated at DQ in Mechanicsville. And watched in virtual awe at the size sundae his buddy, Benjamin, was able to polish off. Speaking of whom, Mr. B. goes to the state spelling bee next Saturday.

Miss Fanny is getting braver by the minute in exploring...and bolder by the (nano) second in terms of destruction. Oh my! She likes whipped cream in a can, and with minimal to no prompting, can even imitate the sound and movement of can over mouth. Just in case it wasn't real clear what she wanted. Feeding time is still hit or miss, pun intended, as occasionally, we swat some offending plate/cup/bowl right off the table. As vocabulary may be a ways off, signing is so in our immediate future. No words is no fun :(

Momma is in full blow nesting mode. I have most of what I need for new baby (In case you hadn't already guessed from my belly in multiple previous pictures.) Sarah & I made a stuffMart run last night to get the vast majority of what remained on the list. She also got to see why it is that I am a bit of a stickler about keeping a respectable distance between folks at the checkout, as the folks behind us had no such compunction.  I seriously think the woman kept less than 24" between her & me at all times, and her kid was attached to my hip. In a word-awkward. Are you allowed to ask people to just please, back up? Probably not at *this* stuffMart and that hour of the night.... (twitch twitch...)

The weather has lost its mind...today we are going to push 70*, it is sunny, beautiful, and the clothes line will be coming off its winter holiday, at least briefly, to wash sheets. Tomorrow is supposed to be a high of maybe 35*, ice/sleet and 1-3 inches of snow. If I were cool enough to use twitter, it might just be #weathersmokincrack. Or #actuallynormalforRVA.

And with that, the washer, and the deck swing (where Penny would like to be held and rocked, even if she doesn't know it now..) beckon. Have a peaceful Sunday at your house.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Tying a Knot and Hanging On

Well, our swimming start to being altogether as a family lasted 1 week exactly. After our first American check ups, and a jaw dropping set of plotting on the growth curve, it was clear Princess P needed to be admitted for a more thorough once over, and likely supplemental feedings. And after her EEG, MUCH better seizure control. The real monkey wrench actually has proven to be her gut though. Too many years of dehydration and a propensity for slow motility just because of her CP, and she has a belly full of stool so hard as to be, quite literally, rocks. She's not a happy camper, and who could blame her....My belly hurts thinking about it. Can't go up on the feeds, but it is no simple thing to reverse the constipation either. She's being quite the trooper, in spite of it all. She managed to get her brother for roommate, in a misadventure serving only to give Mr. P & I more grey hair. Thomas randomly developed cellulitis on his face, and he's needed a bit of stronger antibiotics to get that settled. The staff here has been wonderful, and super accommodating. Thomas is thrilled with their movie collection (and Penny seems to like Pok√©mon, lucky me ;p) Penny meanwhile, is busy charming everyone who comes in her path. Except to fuss at the intern for stroking her hair (sorry kiddo, you *do* have fab hair, it's hard not to touch!) She's shown off a bit for therapy services, played opossum during her hearing screen, and had decided the best spot to sleep is really the cot (2' wide) that's supposed to be Mom's. While entirely productive, I am 100% ready to be HOME.  Tommy's lucky day should be today. Pen & I have stopped holding our breath ^_^

Meanwhile, back at the ranch....Mr. P, the big kids, and some wonderful church friends are holding down the fort. Fanny is settling into a little routine, learning to love vanilla ice cream and mooching Paul's peanut butter toast (in microscopic pieces, lest you want peanut butter toast pulp spat out, ick!) The kids are quite certain that she's saying coat, and it seemed as though, while indistinguishable in any language, she was babbling in her play too. I get to live vicariously via Skype, and see her learning to brush her hair all by herself last night.  

I've managed to snag a few cute pictures
 The nice PT ladies tricked out my chair, so I can lean back a bit.  Bibs, while so *not cool* for my teenage princess, have become a necessity item. I don't think she's ever been so hydrated in her life....and she has no earthly clue quite what to do with spit, poor baby! The nurses aren't quite sure but what we should weigh those bad boys at the end of the day & count it for output.

 The EEG. We chucked the multi-coloured leads coming out the back looked like dreads that would make George Clinton proud...
 
 
So we continue to wait. Prayers for speeding healing, and insight for each person on her care team are greatly appreciated! 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Little brother, BIG hero

Title pretty much says it all:
 
It's been a long day, but a GOOD day.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Safely Home

Not snow, nor sleet, nor lack of sleep, no crazy snow blind drivers on 95 south, nor even L O N G & S L O W immigrations lines at Dulles could deter us. We rolled into home about 9 last night, in various stages of total jet lag/up for 26 hours straight/dead on our feet disorientation. Got meds settled and went to BED!!! The girls slept well, though early birdy Fanny outdid herself and woke at 3:30. I tried to settle her back in, to no avail. Creeping out of bed round #2, she met the dog. Which scared the blazes out of her. Daddy, whom she wasn't so much as going near last night, was her hero. And mine too, b/c he let me go back to sleep for several more hours. We switched off around 7, and by 9, everyone was fed, changed, got meds, and even the critters were caught up on. The big kids went to the sledding hill, and the little guys, plus Fanny, tooled about in the driveway getting level sledding ;-) Penny got to try out her new wheelchair, and we discovered that Grey likes it even better than she does. And as further proof that God really, really loves me, all 4 little ones (Penny, Fanny, Joshers, & Grey) laid down pretty much at the same time for afternoon naps. Now if only Mommy got one.

Fun pictures thus far:
Laura & Sarah on the last hot cocoa run!

Sleeping on the plane

No sleeping, but not crying either. ;)

Someplace over Lancaster. Hi Susanna!!

Adoptive parent & pack mule are the same word in Bulgarian....

 Lucky number 1000. You will have to check out Reece's Rainbow in the next few days to see what I mean.

 Hmmm, check this out!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Medical Exams & Cabin Fever

Medical exam day came went, relatively uneventfully. The pediatrician was lovely, and fluent in English as well as Bulgarian. I realize just how fluent when, as Fanny was screaming bloody murder well in advance of anyone actually coming within arm's reach of her, I rather dryly remarked that if she screamed before they touched her, no one would believe her. This got a good collective chuckle (oops!) She answered our questions and assured us Fanny has little more than a virus (which is as unsatisfying here as it is at home, I'd just like to point that out.) Penny's check up was a good as could be expected; she's in fragile shape comparatively, but dwelling over that point is pretty much a classic Captain Obvious sort of thing.  Getting blood work was zero fun, but in a random bit of divine providence, the clinic is located within a specialty hospital of sorts, and it has a maternity unit with a NICU. So the NICU doctor on call (a lovely older lady) came and got Penny's blood work for us. She was as gentle as possible with her, and with me (I must have looked about ready to keel.)

Fanny's fever & the crummy weather broke by Thursday. Which is good, b/c no eating and no outdoors is enough to make everyone quite batty. Friday we ventured out for a good 4 hours, checking out Roman era ruins, a cool gift shop, what I assume is the capital or parliament building, and traversing steps with strollers. Two important take away lessons: 1-Bulgarian sidewalks are nothing to be trifled with (The 1400 lv stroller that was build like a cross between a Sherman tank & a Land Rover no longer seems so frivolous, after BOTH stupid strollers had wheel breaks :( ) 2-Bulgarian people are wonderful; even helping us lug said quasi worthless strollers up and down the stairs totally unsolicited! As the strollers are/were attempting to die, and need to live through the flight home on Wednesday, we made our ventures out Saturday and today a bit briefer (code for don't walk further than you care to carry children back from!)  The weather has been 50-60's, and there was real, actual SUN today. I had no idea how far you could see around the city. It's cooling off now, and finally, the room is not toasty. We got a few crazy looks walking about in short sleeves.

We seem to be settling into a nice routine. Penny has stretched my repertoire of creative feeding/med giving solutions. I have come to the conclusion the one med must be fantastically bad tasting. NOTHING  appears to kill it's taste, and just for spite, it doesn't dissolve worth a rip. I can't wait to be back in the states for liquids and FlavoRx to kill the taste :') She's quickly figured out that these crazy people will hold her all.the.time if she so much as squeaks. Or perhaps, like many of my babies, she too can feel that oh-so-slight change in air pressure from my arms to the crib mattress. ^_^  Fanny has settled in nicely. She's recognizing the routine of the day, and she actually was giggly excited to be going to breakfast this morning. Another big fan of the croissants! Not sure what she'll do if someone has the audacity to be sitting in "our" booth-guess we'll cross that bridge when & if we come to it.

Tomorrow is our Article V interview and the visas should be prepared by Tuesday. We'll get packed up & ready too, as our flight out is at 0630 AM (yea to home by 3:30 pm local time, but still, I am not sure where I lost my mind thinking THAT flight time, which necessitates being up and rolling at o'dark thirty was a great plan!) While the focused time has certainly been good, I am more than ready to get home and have our whole family together under one roof.
a bit of bedhead....(and the look that all teenagers give you when you take their photos first thing in the morning-aaaggghhh!!!)

Getting silly in fun jammies

Little does she know, she's about to become Sarah's perpetual hair dressing victim. But that braid stayed put....

Got a nice shot of the old (like build in the 1600's old) mosque near the Lion's Bridge.

This building appears to be a LONG way from our hotel, but we walked here. Go us!

An 11th century church, adjacent to the Roman Ruins.

Fuzzy, but a pretty typical rest time shot.

She loves pig-tails :)

Sky-scapes from out hotel room.

View of the mountains

Pretty sure this is what a cold front looks like ;-)
(PS-some of these photos were taken by Sarah. She wanted that mentioned, lol!)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Gotcha day & day one as a family

Monday began, as predicted at 0520 loading into Marty's van and making the lengthy trip (on rather impressively snowy roads) to Fanny's home town. Unfortunately, I was awake at about 0200 hrs and stayed that way. After being awake until about 11 the night before assembling the new strollers (that we didn't actually need for the pick up trip, but that's beside the point...)

It was fun to see her foster family again, and the social workers in the town. I was pleased that I actually could remember the way through the town. And sad that it wasn't lunch time, b/c the pizza at the hotel restaurant was fantastic. But we loaded up and were on our way to Penny's orphanage in what seemed like no time at all. While I fully anticipated a total melt down all the way back to Sofia, the girls did really well. The director at Pen's orphanage was wonderful about making certain we had all of our meds together for her, and questions regarding her diet and needs organized. We then loaded back up, again, for the drive back to the capital, skidding into the passport office by the skin of our teeth. And we made it! Passport photos done & even met another adopting family in the milieu that was the waiting room.

The first night went remarkably well, all things considered. No one ate much, but did sleep well. Miss Fanny is rocking the mother of all colds, so she woke up looking a bit like a snot encrusted cousin it. And subsequently survived her first shower. Penny faired slightly better, and had what I would imagine was her first real soak-in-the-tub bath. Penny has been enjoying trying out various new foods (the evil sweet potatoes notwithstanding,) but Fanny took the better part of the day to be coaxed into half a container of drinkable yogurt and a cup of water syringed in. She's running a fever, and seems to be basically miserable. Thankfully, tomorrow is medical check up/check out day, so she'll get another once over, and we can make sure we are on the right track to get her feeling better before we fly home. The sun came out (I think a relatively infrequent event here) and the temperatures weren't too bad, so we ventured as far as the corner store in search of more yogurt, paper towels, dish soap, & other necessities (Fanta.)

Some fun photos from our first couple of days:
You drive in this!!

 Penny's pick up

Fanny & her foster Mom

 Orphan or not, you are NOT coming home with us.....

 More peaches & oatmeal please

 Sisters. I had to smile, as Fanny is already holding Penny's arm.
 
Well, Miss Fanny is down for the count, and I'd think Penny would be following in short order. Prayers for a uneventful adventure out tomorrow are greatly appreciated.