Thursday, May 29, 2008

Disneyland Fun!

Guess what ride this is?'s the Jungle Cruise! Kate was so interested in everything she about hopped into the water. The only thing that made her pause were the piranhas that jump out right next to the boat, and the headhunter guy.

Mommy and Kate when we first got there. First the bathrooms, then to Harrison Ford.

Uh, I mean, Indiana Jones. (hee hee).

Kevin and the guys outside the Jungle Cruise ride. This was one of the few rides we all went on together. Typically, Amanda took the two big guys on the racier rides, and Kevin and I took Kate and Ryan on the younger/more mellow know...Peter Pan, Snow White, and I think we took in the Carousel 3 times!

Disneyland always puts everyone in a good mood.
The boys enjoyed being with Amanda down for a visit.

Mommy doesn't know it yet, but I can undo my seatbelt!

You just push really hard right here and the whole thing POPs open!
I'm sure Mommy will be very happy to know I can get myself out!

Kate with Brendan and Ryan outside the Silhouette Shop.
Doesn't Kate look cute and happy?

Sit still for a moment, we need your profile...
We had each of the kid's profiles put into one picture, which we picked up later in the day.

Look at the way Kate is looking at Ryan. Very sweet. :)

Frontier Land in the afternoon. You almost don't notice, but Kate is sacked out in the stroller under my red fleece jacket. She must've been exhausted, because normally she doesn't fall asleep if there is any stimulation at all.

Amanda and Kate looking at the moon.
"Can you say 'moon' Kate?"
"Yes, that's right! Moon!"

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Pines

Our family has land in the San Bernardino mountains just south of Big Bear. We always just call it 'The Pines'.

It's in the Santa Ana River Valley, and takes about 2.5-3 hours to drive north from San Diego. It sure makes for a nice day, especially with a picnic lunch in tow. Early April, while Amanda was down from Seattle, seemed like a great time to go.

Kevin and his tribe (Ryan post-run-in with the old are they when you can stop bringing an extra outfit for them??)

Colton with his pirate sword. Ya know, you never want to be in the mountains without your plastic sword! (We had gone to Disneyland/Pirates of the Carribean the day before).

Goin' for a walk.

The quickly moving stream is to the left and down the hill.

(Mom or Dad was carrying Ryan's soaking wet jeans and shirt!)

After finding the metate stone, I was curious about the Indians who used to live in these mountains, so I looked them up on the internet. The different peoples who lived in the San Bernardino highlands, passes, valleys and mountains were collectively called by the Spaniards, the Serrano...a term meaning highlander.

Their creation story is tells of the first people who tended to their creator Krukat as he laid ill and dying high in the mountains.
When the creator died, the people began to mourn and in their grief, turned into pine trees. The nuts and acorns these trees scattered became food for the Serrano clans who would follow these first people.

Have you ever seen a metate stone? It's fun when you come across one. It's a stone block with a shallow concave surface used with a mano (a hand-held stone) for grinding corn or other grains. Here, it was probably used for acorns. They're usually smaller, but this one is about 4 ft. across! The holes are deeper than they appear in this picture. Everytime we go, we try and remember where it is and show the kids.

Grandma Shirlee, Heather, Amanda, Colton,

Kate, Ryan and Brendan (Bryson unfortunately had to work and couldn't come with us.)
Kate and Grandpa Doug waiting for the picnic lunch to be broken out :)

Brendan hugging on his little sister.
Kevin and Amanda

It's a very peaceful day being at the Pines. You should hear the wind in the trees. It's so beautiful, it almost sounds like water. The only building anywhere nearby is the Ranger's station. No cars or noise. Just nature. It's good for the soul. I always feel like I'm at peace with the world when we're camping or at the Pines. I hope the kids grow up with the same love of being in nature. Not that I don't love my creature comforts, believe me, I do. But you can feel your self de-compress when you come to a place like this. It was a good day.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Healing On It's Own

Sorry to keep you in suspense, but the past week has been really busy!

We took Kate back to see the surgeon 2 weeks after discovering the hole in her mouth, for her 3 week post-op checkup. He asked Kate to open her mouth real wide and look up at the ceiling (which she did...a growth moment!) and he said, "Ya know, I think it's gonna be okay. It's trying hard to close up on it's own, and is almost there!" Yahoo!! So he wants to see her back in a couple weeks to check it again, but felt very hopeful that the fistula in her mouth would close up on it's own. Whew!

So, at least until then, NOTHING BUT SOFT FOOD IN THE MOUTH!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day

Pretty little Kate on Mother's Day, 12 days after her surgery.

The day was spent at a brunch with family, lots of kids, and lots of good food.
(...and lots of attention being paid to make sure nothing bopped Kate in the mouth!)

These are 3 of the kids in the family that are closest in age to Kate.
Ryan is in the middle (Darth Ryan), cousin Theodore is the frontiersman on the right, and cousin William is the Jedi on the left. William shares with Kate the wonderful distinction of having joined our family through adoption. Uncle Erik and Aunt Ingrid adopted William from Liberia approximately 3 years ago. Grandma Shirlee lovingly refers to her 20 grandkids as her little United Nations. :)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Post-Surgery Update

Well, within a week of her surgery, a small hole worked it's way into Kate's palate. At first I hoped he had used black stitches, but then I realized it was receded upwards a bit (that's why it looked darker), and sure enough by the next day, there was a hole there. It's approximately where one of the two holes were before surgery, about the size of a pencil eraser, right behind her teeth. The other side looked like it was stressed, but was still intact.

Here we go again, with mentally going over the past 6 days; what could have gotten into her mouth?, did she eat anything other than liquids, yogurt & jello type things? Oh my gosh this is stressful! My heart is just pounding, phone call to Kevin crying...

It reminds me of that period when you have a little one who is learning to stand up and/or walk and it seems like everytime they try, they're falling and banging their head (or you're afraid they're going to) so you can't relax, because you're on alert. That's what the past week was like. Afraid that Kate would fall and hit her stitched up mouth and lip, or that one of our household Jedi's would bop her in the mouth with their constantly waving light sabers. Putting on her no-nos (velcro arm restraints) when she sleeps so no fingers make it into her mouth, and trying to feed 6 people out of sight of Kate. (She can only have liquids the first week, then only soft foods; eggs and such, for the next few weeks.) I'm beat. And to find out her palate opened up anyway.

The surgeon was disappointed but explained that he had closed it up on 2 layers (not sure if that's what he did in the first surgery?). Since there was no liquid coming out of her nose, he felt that the first, inside layer was probably still intact, and with any luck, the opening will close up on it's own. (I hope, I hope). Otherwise, he will probably just leave it until he does her bone graft when she is 8 or 9. At that time he will be working on the gumline.

I have heared this is very unusual, and for it to happen twice? Actually, not twice. This is Kate's third surgery (remember we found out they had closed her lip in China, and it had reopened) and all three times, her stitches have at least partially reopened. There's got to be something going on with her skin, or the way she heals.

I had actually planned this to be a really short post! Please pray with me that Kate's mouth heals up quickly and correctly. While she's very smart and she tries to speak, her speech is still quite unclear. Thanks! :)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Kate's Surgery

On Tuesday, April 29th, Kate had surgery at Children's Hospital. She had the remaining 2 small holes in her palate closed up (it was approx. the length of a dime, right behind her front teeth), her frenulum, the little piece of skin under the tongue, clipped, because it came out too far (this is actually pretty common), and her lip touched up. Yikes! Sounds awful doesn't it?

Well, typical to form, Kate has taken it with her usual toughness. She amazes me sometimes. The surgeon came out of surgery earlier than expected and told us everything went great, and there were no surprises. He touched up her lip by removing some of the scar that was present, going from her nose to her lip, and putting in a shot of steroid in hopes that it would scar less in the future.

Only one parent can go into recovery at a time, and this time I was prepared for what it would look like, and smell like. But when I went back, I was pleasantly surprised at her appearance. It was much easier to deal with than last time: she physically looked better, less swelling, less blood noticeable, and she seemed to be more coherant when they took us back. I actually heard her before I saw her. She was crying...LOUDLY...and would only stop if you were leaning over her, hugging her in a protective sort of way. Then she would drift off to sleep and upon awakening, it was like she was scared and upset all over again as she would scan the room, her eyes coming to rest on the nurse as if to say, "and who the heck are YOU?!" After a few more minutes, Kate started to frantically sign 'daddy', making no attempt to speak. "You want Daddy?" Kate nods with tears, "Okay Baby, I'll go get him." 10 minutes or so later, Kevin came to get me..."O.K. Mom, you're on. She's signing for you." This went back and forth until she was out of the recovery room, and into her own room.

This cuff feels familiar...seems like I've been here before....

The nurse had to check my blood pressure while I was getting checked in.

Ya know, you'd think they could come up with a better design for a hospital gown. Everyone smiled when I walked with my Mommy and Daddy into the waiting room...

Mommys' silly. The hospital gave me a bunny to hold, to take my mind off being hungry and tired.(No food the morning of surgery, and I didn't go in until 2:15 in the afternoon...way past my lunchtime and naptime!)

What do you say we just leave??

"Reading" a Jack & Jill magazine to pass the time, waiting for the nurse to come and get me.

I shoulda left when I had the chance... oooohhhh.
I could only sleep if Mommy was holding me...or I was very sad and scared and I cried. But if Mommy was there, I felt safe.

The only problem is that my crib was about 4 1/2 feet long, and Mommy is almost 5'10".

They have funny cribs in the hospital. The nurses said it's because kids are different than adults...they don't "milk it" and enjoy the attention, and having people wait on them. Once they feel better at all, they're attitude is "I'm outta here" and they try to climb out and leave! So up go the sides, and down come the plastic curtains.
Kate proved her right about 24 hrs. after her surgery when she tried to climb out and let us know she was ready to leave! (I had left the end curtain open, so she could see the TV, and sure enough, that was where she tried to climb out!)

Here is Mommy's deluxe bed in the background! At least we had a room to ourselves.

I love you little girl.

Poor baby. She was pretty uncomfortable and they had given her tylenol with codeine.

Going home.
Kate was singing and humming on the way out to the car. Typical Kate...she's a resilient, tough, but sweet little kid.