Friday, March 6, 2015

A reminder

I fell into my computer and didn't come out for 2 hours last night. I started looking though iPhoto and ended up in the Taiwan pictures. I sat and viewed the pictures of the time leading up to our trip to Taiwan, of our departure, of our days in Taiwan before Katelyn, of meeting her for the first time, and of our time together there, and after our return. And along the way I watched several videos. 

The taxi rides, the foster family, the language, the sights, the crazy Taiwan baseball game/concert, her broken English, learning to read, and how her relationship with her brothers has grown and changed. I watched it all and I'm in awe!

I laughed and cried. And I was reminded of how far she/we have all come. It put me back to those moments when that 7 year old girl who spoke very little English, was trusting enough to grab on and just go with it. Wow! I don't know that I could have done what she did. I really don't. At least, not with the grace she did it with. I would have been a whimpering puddle on the plane, but she just went with it.

Now she shares that she was definitely scared, that she hated the plane, that she misses the smells of Taiwan most, and certain things about her different caregivers there over the years. 

While we were scared, impatient, and wanted desperately to show her how much we automatically cared for her and wanted to make her feel safe, she was certainly going through huge emotions too. She hid all of that, trusted us and took a huge leap. 

That bravery changed her life and ours for the better. Of the 7 billion people on this earth, I am thankful each and every day that the 5 of us get to call each other family. God is so good and so faithful. He's bigger than anything we could ever imagine. He's here in the hard times, and He leads the way. I've learned time and again, and was reminded last night, if you are just brave enough to follow, He will lead you down the right path, much like we did with Katelyn 21 months ago. What a blessing!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

United Health Care strikes again

And United Healthcare strikes again! The ortho doc on base said they could do nothing of me and he wanted to refer me off base to a "joint specialist." The reason is that even the "expert" joint guy in the ortho clinic on base felt they couldn't do anything to help me. 

Today I followed up and called to check the status of the referral and get the info on the doctor they had chosen. First, they chose another orthopedic doctor. Not a joint specialist. Just a regular, everyday ortho guy. Secondly, upon further research I see that for my knee, they have referred me to an ortho who specializes in "neck and spine reconstruction." 

Of course UHC did. It's par for the course. So after much research, looking up reviews, finding the right kind of orthopedic (you know, one who deals with knees), checking to see if they were in network, I called UHC back. I demanded that it be changed, gave them the name, address, and phone of the guy I found. Then I called the new doctor's office and scheduled my own appointment (vs UHC's advice to wait for the ortho's office to call me). 

I will see him next Wednesday afternoon and thankfully Andy will go with. 

I am disappointed not to be moving this summer like we thought. But honestly, I'm more frustrated knowing that I have to deal with UHC for another year. Their incompetence is incredible. 

Praying the new doc won't tell me I'm a lost cause. I can't take that. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Boyfriends and Jesus

Yesterday was a regular Wednesday. Homeschool, lunch, outside play, the usual. Then Katelyn breezed into my room and we had the following conversation. 

She started by explaining that she didn't want one, but wanted to know how you get a boyfriend. This led to a discussion about how old you have to be to date, and why you should be that old. And she asked "so how do you break up with a boyfriend?" Which led to more conversation about being older and being able to handle that kind of relationship. 

Which led her to ask how many boyfriends I'd had before Andy, how I met Andy, how long we dated, when we got engaged, how he asked me to marry him. why do boys kneel down to propose, when he graduated college, when he started the Air Force, when our wedding was, and what our first house was like. 

Soon we were talking about how you should marry your best friend and we came up with some examples of couples she knows. Which of course led to a discussion about divorce and who in our families has been divorced and why, and why anyone would do that even after promising God and all their family and friends to be together until they died. 

Which led us to talking about God and what it means to believe in him and make promises to him (wedding vows), and sin, and our human-ness, and His grace and forgiveness. 

To which that sweet face snuggled up with me in the chair very matter of factly said "I think I'm ready to pray that prayer tell Jesus I love him and I know He died on the cross and why He did that so that I can go to heaven too." 

Afterwards, I was so tickled to think that the conversation that started with how to get a boyfriend, ended up in one of the most touching moments a mom can where you get to be present and part of your child's journey to Jesus. 

Her mind is always spinning so I have to say it was a very Katelyn-like and so perfect. I love that girl and I am so happy, relieved, and thrilled to know she will spend eternity in heaven. God's Blessings continue to pour over us. I'm humbled and grateful!

Monday, February 23, 2015

2015 so far

I am always the first to wish we actually had 4 seasons. Living in Vegas we have two. Hot, not so hot. I long for blustery days, snow, and hey, even a cloud would suffice now and again. 

But it's February and we have had the a/c on for 2 weeks. The kids are wearing shorts regularly, and they've even begun to tan a little bit. 

So how I ask, in the middle of such wonderful weather, have we spent 3 solid weeks being sick? Andy brought an upper respiratory infection home (thank goodness it wasn't the flu, but at least we could have thrown Tamiflu at that). He was put on quarters for 2 days. In his almost 22 years of active duty, that's a first. 

Three days later Katelyn succumbed. It was the first time she's been sick since we brought her home. 21 months is a good stretch I'd say. United Health Care struck again when they wouldn't approve a trip to an Urgent Care off base. Our only option was the petri dish  ER on base. 5 hours later we left with a huge dose of steroids and Tylenol in her system. She was still sick for a solid week. 

The next day it was my turn. Naturally it was  a Saturday so to avoid a trip to the ER, I called my PH doc. He listened to my pitiful self and soon I had steroids of my own, antibiotics, albuterol, and orders for doing nothing but sipping anything liquid, and rest. I was down and out for 2 solid weeks. 

I've had sinus surgery, emergency ectopic surgery, an incision that opened up and had to be packed/debrided 2x a day, two c-sections, and various procedures and I always handle the pain pretty well. The recoveries aren't fun survive. This URI took me for a ride though. I'm pretty sure by day 7 I was almost crying because I perpetually felt as though I'd just gotten off a spinning ride at the fair. I wasn't dizzy...just "swimmy" as I call it. By day 10 I was positive I'd never recover. By day 14 I was giving Andy instructions on what to do with my belongings. 

I did all I could to help the process along, but man was that a long two weeks! 

In the middle of all that, I also finally had my MRI on my knee. It's been buckling and giving out periodically for about 3 years. It's embarrassing that I let it go on so long, but let's just say I'm not a big fan of specialists. It never seems to end well when I see those types. 

I finally saw the orthopedist and we went over my MRI. First of all he MIGHT be as old as Opie. He's new, and awkward, and while very smart, not an expert at relating to patients. I figure when he's done with puberty, he'll be better at that part. 

His news was that my knee is such a hot mess (his exact words), that there's nothing they can do for me and they are sending me off base to a joint specialist. Of course I dug into the "hot mess" comment and learned that the cartilage lesion is so big, and the bones are so close, and there is a slight tear in the meniscus, and there is cartilage floating around, and you know..the bone spurs behind the knee cap, that well.. they would only recommend a knee replacement. 

Excuse me? Did your 10 your old doctor self just tell me I need a total knee replacement? I just turned 44. I already have PH and Scleroderma. Now you're telling me I need the same thing my 80 something year old grandmother had to have? I already checked the "it's very rare and I've never seen this in someone your age" box. Don't I get a pass on that now? 

Apparently not. Honestly I'm angry. And I feel cheated (again). And many moments this weekend of "it's just not fair." But none of that changes reality. At this point I'm praying that the joint specialist will have more encouraging news. Surely we can clean up the inside, or do injections for awhile. Or utilize some newer treatments I've read about like stem cell injections. 

Here's to hoping I can see the joint specialist this century and that he will have better news. I'm so over being THAT girl. Medical stuff just isn't any fun and I've had my fair share and then some. I'd like to get back to "just" homeschooling, parenting, and the general craziness of our life. Yes please!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Baby Ike and what I've learned

Tonight one of my most favorite families had their new baby boy placed in their arms for the first time. They are in China and after the typical long wait, crazy paper chase, ups and downs of the adoption process....Martha is now holding precious Ike in her arms. Her husband and both older children are all there too and I am just so thankful to God for this amazing blessing.

It's fun to experience it from this perspective. Watching God's love literally pour out over all of them, and living vicariously through their adventures is more than amazing. It motivated me to go back and read my own blog entries about our own experience with bringing Katelyn home. It really makes you realize how far we have all come.

I know I brag about her, say she's smart, say that my boys have handled it well. But there is no way to describe how wonderful it has been. We've had tough times, things to work through, and some growing pains. But as I look back over the past 19 months together, I am truly humbled. When you're living the day to day life of a family of 5, I think it's easy to take it for granted.

You want your kids to just be kids....not bicker, shut the pantry door, finish their chores, lay off the video games, be polite, work hard on their school work, and stop eating us out of house and home. But then I remember the beginning of our family of 5. And I am reminded that this sweet girl was braver than anyone I know and at age 7, happily took the leap of faith to join us. She left the food, the smells, the language, the culture, the fashion, and every adult who had ever cared for her...she left it all.

And to say she has blossomed would be an understatement. She can be a hot mess. She can roll her eyes. She can speak to me as if I'm her equal. She can boss her brothers. And she is not a good loser. At all.

But she is funny as all get out! Her wit and humor are the very best! She has a wide range of food likes. She is reading better than I could have ever predicted. Her confidence is growing. She's learning it's okay to be wrong. She comes to us for comfort when she's hurt or sick (HUGE progress).  She accepts  discipline better and has finally stopped crying if she is corrected. She loves her long hair, her Barbies, her friends, soccer, her play kitchen, and shopping. Boy does she love shopping!

My love for her just grows and grows...even when I don't think it's possible to love her more or be more proud of her...I am.

So to the Eskeridge family. I know a little of the journey in front of you. I'm partially jealous...and mostly relieved we are a few steps further into this adoption thing. I don't know of a more perfect mom and dad and sister and brother for baby Ike. I know you too will soak up this blessing and be humbled by God's divine love for you. Thanks for the reminder and the perspective you gave me on our own family. What a joy this is in so many ways!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Proud Mom Moment

Katelyn is a horrible liar. It's great because she's so bad at it, we always know and can call her on it. We joke that we really need to make sure that behavior stops soon before she gets good at it. We teach honesty and talk about telling the truth frequently. She lies for all the normal reasons that kids avoid getting into trouble. But of course adoption plays into it too. She is avoiding trouble...and still trying to make sure we love her (my opinion).

When in trouble, she fidgets. She scratches elbow, taps legs, winds her hands and wrists around each other the entire time you're talking to her. And if you ask her a question, she does one of two things. She gives you a blank look and says nothing. Or she starts to give suggestions on what "maybe" happened.

Well today before bed she came to us and explained that while we were gone for the evening, she was messing around on the couch and accidentally knocked my computer off onto the floor. The top of it has a large scratch (but thankfully it still works). She said she had just told Nathan about it and now wanted to tell us. Her story didn't really make sense and we couldn't figure out why she would come and volunteer this info. Lord knows if I ever did anything wrong as a kid (and we all know I didn't), the last person I'd share it with was my brother!

So we really stayed calm, but asked questions. Her suggestions of how it might have fallen might as well have included that it it flew down to the floor. It's honestly hard not to laugh when she says ", maybe when I was sitting there my hand accidentally pushed it down," or "Maybe my finger hit the cord and it got pulled down kind of softly?"

In the end we find out she was sitting upside down, hanging her head off the couch,  and began to slide off. As she went down her knee or leg kicked the computer and knocked it off. We made a BIG deal about how proud we were that she told the truth and that she came to us. Telling us instead of us finding out and her lying about it was awesome.

We explained that since she was hanging around upside down (something she's been told not to do on the furniture), that there would be a punishment. But nothing like what would have happened had she lied.

We came up with a punishment and told her she lost a privilege for 2 days but if she had lied, she would have lost it for 2 weeks. Telling the truth paid off. And now she could go to bed with a clean conscious. What a great lesson and big moment for all of us!

At the end I was puzzled as to why she'd share that info with Nathan. She said she hoped he would make it better. She told us that he told her it was okay but that she needed to tell us. He also told her that in the Bible it says to tell your parents stuff like that (not quite, but he has the idea lol).

I am SO proud of him! What a great brother to give wise advice, not to run down and tattle on her, and to comfort her. That boy melts me all the time and I just  love his heart.

Some days when I'm telling them for the 325th time to stop bickering, or to shut the pantry door before I remove it from the hinges, or when I'm picking up dog puke that they all stepped over as they went outside, I feel like I'm not doing this parenting thing right.

Then one of them makes a huge leap in trust and tells us the truth, and one counsels the other based on Biblical truths and gives comfort. What a blessing it is to be part of their journey. I'm so thankful!

Now if only they would SHUT THE PANTRY DOOR!

Friday, September 19, 2014

My current duties

I occasionally like to take an inventory of how I'm doing and how I spend my time. Here's my most recent list of duties:

Dog puke picker-upper (when you have a dog with cleft palate, this happens far too often)
Bible Teacher
Listener of Jokes
Fake Laugher
Furniture repair-er
Home Decorator
Dog Groomer
Professional Organizer (or is it Professional Mess Maker?)
Fashion Coordinator
Financial Advisor
Finance Spender
Air Conditioning Police
And last but not least, 

And I love it. :)

Thursday, September 18, 2014


I have a lot of talents, but cooking ain't one. I can mess up nearly any recipe. I don't season it enough, so then I season it too much. I don't bake it long enough. I bake it too long.  I could lie and say my oven must cook at a higher temperature, but that's like saying my eyes are's my arms that aren't long enough! I even manage to mess up crockpot recipes. One time I bought a huge roast. I cooked it so long it was barely enough for the 5 of us to eat. I had visions of full bellies and left overs for lunches. Instead, we ate a few bites of roast, loaded up on potatoes and carrots, then offered bananas, Ritz crackers, and apples to the kids when they were still hungry.

We are in the dinner rut. Nathan's palate is...let's say, unrefined. He'd happily eat chicken nuggets every. single. day. Matthew eats quite a few things, but that's ALL he eats. If he hasn't had it before, he's not having it now. That makes trying new things extra fun.  Katelyn will eat anything. There are only a few things she doesn't like. I had to go outside of our gene pool to get a good eater. 

I've tried a few new meals and we haven't had to resort to a last minute pizza delivery yet. I did attempt to teach Matt some of the basic stuff and he suddenly had something urgent to do anywhere else but in the kitchen. 

I consider myself to be pretty smart. I get by ya know? But let's just say if we had the money, I think we would all agree (me included) that eating out every meal would be preferable to my shrunk up roasts, bland stew, or dishes with enough garlic to cause a world shortage. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Guest Blogger

I got to share my PH story and my PHight..  It's long, but not a bad read.

It still seems like yesterday that it all started. In reality I'm coming up on 7 years since diagnosis and I'm thankful I'm doing so well. It's always good to be reminded of how far you've come.

Friday, July 11, 2014

I blinked, and summer is halfway over!

That seems to be the story of my life lately. Somehow when I wasn't paying attention, July 4th came and went.

June was packed with all things going-away. So many people are leaving...and they are people that are friends of the kids, friends of ours. And I'm not happy.

Last year was hard. We were adjusting to so much, but it was hard to come in and be the new girl. Not that I haven't done it many times before, but with the adoption, homeschooling, it was a tough few months. Now this summer all of those people we've gotten to know are off to start a new adventure at different bases. Hmph!

We've spent the past few weeks swimming,  having sleepovers, seeking out a/c at all costs, more sleepovers, seeking out more a/c, etc... The kids are all enjoying the free days of summer. They've all made friends here in the neighborhood. My doorbell constantly rings and kids come and go. Nathan and Katelyn were kind enough to share our big bottles of Gatorade with the neighborhood until I told them they could only share water. Then when our 5 gallon jug of Sparklets was gone in a day, I had to specify that he and Katelyn could share TAP water with the neighborhood.

But the kids are happy. They are riding bikes, playing basketball, and scariest of all, rollerskating. Katelyn has never been on skates, but every little girl should learn right?

So we suited her up with a helmet, knee pads, wrist guards, and elbow pads and off she went. Well..sort of. It took a day or two to get her to stop trying to walk. And that girl...just watching her try to stand still and keep her center of balance is exhausting. But per her usual, she does NOT give up. She's had them all of 4 days and is skating up and down the street and through the park like a pro. I'm not saying it's pretty, or graceful, but she's moving and she loves it!

Her English skills are remarkable. I've had others who meet her for the first time say that they cannot believe she just arrived in America a little over a year ago. She seems to be doing great. We try to talk about any issues, and we tell her over, and over, and over that we love her and she's here to stay. I love that she often rolls her eyes at me...that's okay, I still can't tell her enough.

Matt turned 13 in June and I swear a switch flipped. He sleeps until I wake him up. He goes to do something in another room, and forgets what it was before he gets there. He is wearing deodorant...usually. Every opportunity he has to comment on me being old, out of date, or generally "mom-ish," he takes it. Often, his little remarks are pretty funny. And he knows I think that. Which I'm sure is to my own demise.

He's such a good kid, and ultra responsible. He's growing up. And this momma doesn't like it. In fact, just this afternoon, he spent about an hour sitting right up next to me and watched Honey Boo Boo (don't judge!) with me. I didn't point out that I liked him just hanging out, or even noticed it, but it did occur to me that in the not too distant future, he won't want to snuggle up with his mom. So today, we bonded over Mama June, HBB, and Pumpkin, our favorite on the show (she's seriously crazy, and I can't help but love her!).

And Nathan, oh he's still the same. He doesn't do anything halfway. He's been perfecting his moves on a new skateboard. I can't watch just makes me gasp out loud. And like any good teenage son, Matt makes fun of that. Nathan is so, so sweet. He truly melts me. I don't know if it's because he's such a replica of Andy or what, but one look from his big ol' eyes and I give him just about anything he wants. Seriously.

As for Andy and me...we're good! Andy has a new boss. I am still irritated that the old boss (and wife) had to leave. It just isn't okay with me! So far, so good though. He worked his tail off through the month of June so I'm glad things will settle down soon.

I saw my PH doctor at the beginning of June. Everything is status quo, just like I like it. I did switch one oral med that I take. It's a PH med that I'd been on for 7+ years. I absolutely hate to mess with what works, but the new med does the same job and isn't nearly as toxic to your liver. I figured my liver deserved a break so we switched. It was pretty seamless. Well, except for the Great Poisoning Incident of 2014.

GPI happened when Andy set up all my meds for the week (we do it once a week in a pill box marked know, me and all my senior citizen friends) and did what he's done a million times. He put my oral PH med in the morning and in the nighttime meds. However, the new med that I switched to is only to be taken once a day. So for 5 days I took that twice a day. I knew that the new med might cause nausea or fatigue, etc... and it did. I was pretty miserable, but I figured I just needed to push through for a few weeks.

Or you know, take it once a day like you're supposed to. Once we figured it out and I took the actual prescribed dosage, I no longer had bad side effects! Wha-la! I've since named it the GPI and figured that's a goooood one and that I can get some mileage out of it.

Such is life! There is more going on with what Andy's next assignment might be and such, but it's a little early to share. I will have to post some pictures soon. The kids are growing too fast!