Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Zoe's Eye Surgery at LeBonheur

In October of 2013, Zoe had her fourth surgery. This one was to try to improve her vision a little because, in addition to her bilateral ptosis, her lashlines were angled down, obstructing her vision even more because she had to look through her eyelashes to see.

This surgery was stressful for us because, not only were they working on her eyes this time, but it was also at a different hospital than we were used to. Her previous three surgeries were at Vanderbilt, but this one was at LeBonheur because her opthamologist is in Memphis, not Nashville, and he has privileges there. I had heard great things about LeBonheur; we weren't worried that it wasn't as good of a hospital, just that it was not the one we already knew.

The surgery went great, and our surgery experience at this hospital was fantastic, so much more positive experience than we have had with surgeries at Vanderbilt. (Note: Vanderbilt is an excellent hospital, and we have many positive experiences with them, but their out-patient surgery experience takes an entire day...sun-up to sun-down and lots of waiting. The most frustrating part is that all three times she has has surgery there, they have changed her time either up or back couple hours without notifying us, and we live almost three hours away from them...so that's a pretty big problem.)

At LeBonheur, we had to get there two hours early, which was 5:30am for a 7:30 surgery. They schedule surgery times by age, little ones first, and she was the youngest of the day, so hers was the earliest surgery that day. We were about 10 minutes late, and no one was mean to us (which is just nice). We didn't wait for long to go back to pre-op, and we were very pleasantly surprised by the wall of new toys they had for their little patients to choose from to bring home. Each child (even teenagers) who came for a surgery gets to choose a new toy (random item for the big kids) to take home. We chose this plush talking ball for Zoe.

Her doctor had surgery privileges at two different hospitals and alternates weekly between the two. Well, he was late because he went to the wrong one first. He breezed in right about 7:30, came right to us, apologized for being late, went over the surgery with us, and then left to get ready. We figured that would slow things down a bit, but she was taken back to the OR ten minutes later. It was amazing...we couldn't believe it happened so quickly, much less on time.

Her surgery didn't take long, maybe an hour, and they came to get us. I was dreading how mad she would be, but for once, she woke up in a reasonable decent mood (and in a timely manner-not entirely normal for our Zoe). She didn't seem to be in pain at all. We were discharged to leave shortly after, and we were home by about 11am. At Vanderbilt, it would have been at least evening before we were discharged, let alone home.

It was a great surgery experience. I think I am going to change switch her to an ENT in Memphis so that if she has another ears-nose-throat surgery it can be done there.

The surgery was very successful; I think that may be one of the reasons she was such a trooper. It made such a difference for her! The surgery was supposed to give her a less-obstructed line of sight by adjusting the angle of her lash line so that she can see without having to look through her eyelashes so much. You can see in the photos below what he did. I didn't post a before picture because, although the surgery was successful, the difference can be seen more in her demeanor than by looking at her eyes.

The surgery was denied payment by insurance because they considered it cosmetic, and so we've been in battle the last few months. Yesterday, though, we got a letter from them, that they have changed their minds and will pay for it after all. The doctor's office and their billing office filed an appeal, and I filed a grievance; thankfully something worked, especially since there will probably be another similar surgery in the near future to lift her eyelids a little. This was sort of a stepping stone to that one to see how she handled it and help her see better in the meantime.

with her new toy in pre-op
playing with daddy
busting out in her jammies :)
waking up

she had to wear splints on her arms for a week post-op to keep her hands out of her eyes, but she finally figured out how to hold her bottle.

you can really see the difference here; her eyelashes are pointing up now instead of down over her eyes.

mommy and Zoe selfie

Friday, April 4, 2014

Cloth Napkins: DIY and Why with Tutorial (Sew and No-Sew instructions)

We have been using cloth napkins for several months, some store-bought, and some home made ones. I thought I would do a little tutorial to show how I made them. They are super easy, and most definitely cheaper than buying them, especially if you already have the fabric.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Our Last Adoption Update for a While (and I'm Back)

Hello Friends,

If you read my blog on a regular basis (or are simply adept at reading dates), then you know that I have not posted in over a year. There are a couple of reasons for that. 

One of them is busyness. I am ashamed to say that Zoe didn't get a birthday party last year (and I'm late doing it this year). We just have a lot going on (like everyone else), and I have to choose how to use my time....blogging rarely wins, as you can see.  

The main reason for my silence is my not knowing what to say (shocking, I know.). I knew I should give an update on our adoption, or lack there of, but I didn't know where we stood. Now I do, and I want my blog back, so here is your last adoption update for the foreseeable future.

Several of you know that we have been talking about (and fundraising for) adoption the last couple of years, so I wanted to give you an update, so that you know where we are.

This time last year we were very tired of the adoption process: tired of agencies and social workers who do not call, tired of waiting, tired of not being chosen for a baby.  So with our home study needing to be updated soon, we had a decision to make. We needed to either choose an agency to work with exclusively, or we needed to take a step back and not think about adoption for a little while. We decided to continue with an agency.

 Last summer, shortly after we had chosen an agency (paid them $550 in application fees) and started on paperwork to update our home study, we found ourselves very frustrated and discouraged with our agency. When we originally made the decision to work with this agency, it was very well thought out, and we had discussed with our case worker at great length, over the course of months, our situation. She knew that we were on the verge of burn-out and about to give up.  After about a month with them, we had hit our limit, and we decided that we didn't want to adopt anymore, at least not right now.

So all of that to say, we are taking a break from the adoption process. We still want to adopt, but I am not sure that we will. For now, we are not currently pursuing it. We appreciate every bit of support that we received from family, friends, and people we have never met.

All of the money we raised for the adoption was sitting in our savings account waiting for our break to be over, and then I spoke with a friend a few months ago who was trying to bring home a special needs baby boy. She needed just a little more than we had, and she needed it in less than a week to start the paperwork. We were not currently trying to adopt ourselves, and so we gave it to her. Her baby boy has been home for a few weeks now, and he is thriving in his new family.

If you gave any money toward our adoption, I want to thank you, and I want you to know that it did not go to waste just because our adoption didn't happen. It went exactly where you expected it to go: to a loving family who needed a little help bringing home a precious child. God used each of you to make that happen.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Green Wood Floor Cleaning...with Tea!

Hello Friends,

I recently read on a blog I follow (here) that you can clean your hardwood floors with tea. I wondered why someone might want to do this. Why is it better, you ask? Well I did some googling, and this is where I found most of the reasons all in one place. It seemed rather convincing so I tried it. (No, I didn't just pour my drink on the floor and rub it in).

I brewed five small tea bags (use black tea) in about 1.5 quarts of hot water. Let it cool enough that you can soak a rag and wring it out, and use it to clean the floor. I used a microfiber rag attached to my swiffer mop, and it worked very nicely. Every so often I took the rag off, rinsed it, and reloaded it with tea. Make sure to wring it out, though. You don't want lots of moisture collecting on your floor.

My floors have a nice, clean gleam to them, and they dried very quickly. I am pleased with this method; it is cheap, easy, effective, and free of harsh chemicals. I put the leftover (unused) tea in a jar in the refrigerator, and I'll see if it's still good the next time I want to mop with tea. I don't know how long it will last, but I will find out.

Adoption Update...and some thoughts

Hello Friends,

About this time two nights ago I was hoping to have a very exciting adoption update for you, but no such luck. We were being considered for a sweet child with down syndrome, but his family chose another family to adopt him. We are not heartbroken (or overly surprised-sorta getting accustomed to that), just a little disappointed. So we are pretty much exactly where we were at the last update: waiting for a family to choose us.

You know what's funny...when we began this journey about a year ago, we were under the impression that there was a great need for families who wanted to adopt special needs kiddos. But it seems like, if that were really the case, we wouldn't have been runner-up so many times....just a thought.

I know I sound cynical...I'm not really, just tired of waiting. We aren't really that impatient to have a baby because most every time we've been "close" (runner-up), if we had been the family chosen, we would have been bringing home a baby inside of two weeks. It becomes real very fast...too fast. While we are sitting on our thumbs waiting (usually several days) for the birth parents to make their final selection (narrowing down from two to one family), we realize that as much as we want another child, we sort of already have a "baby."

Zoe is not actually a baby, but her care is very similar to that of a baby. She gets seven feedings each day (4 from a bottle, for the other 3, she does not self-feed ); she cannot walk or effectively talk (to communicate); she is not typically clear on her wants and needs; she's in diapers; she is very cuddly. Most of these characteristics are not indicative of a three-year-old.

All that to say, we are disappointed whenever we are not chosen by a family (admittedly, sometimes slightly relieved), but we have decided to be content with what (and who) we have and where we are right now (while we wait). We are still hoping to adopt this year, and we are still working towards that goal, but we are also going to trust God's timing in adding a third child to our family. Each time we thought, "this could be it," and then it wasn't we were really disappointed (any feelings of relief usually hit about 24 hours later), but weeks later, we realized that it was really, significantly better for our family that it didn't happen then.

I can honestly say that as much as I want to bring home a new baby (and all these pictures of new babies and expectant mothers I keep seeing on facebook don't help AT ALL), I am happy with our life right now. I am enjoying my two children and all the time that I have with them right now. Whenever we bring home a new little one, there will be many changes, and life won't ever be this way again, so I have decided to relish these moments while I have them.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

so very thankful...

for my loving and very hardworking husband who is also such a devoted father to our little girls.

for my sweet, sweet little girls and God's provision which allows me to be home with them during these fleeting, but so blissful years.

for our wonderful families and friends who prove to be such a blessing time after time. we are better for having them in our lives.

for the over-abundance that has so lavishly been bestowed upon us, undeserving though we may be, so that we may be blessed by blessing others (even if it is in seemingly small ways).

for little hands so eager to help in the kitchen...with laundry...straighten the house...occupy a sister.

for a thoughtful husband who makes me breakfast even though it's not my birthday yet and who cares for the children weekly (and cleans the house a bit) for my evening out shopping (enthusiastically, might I add).

for a loving and sacrificial Savior who gave us a reason to celebrate this joyful season.

for being able to snuggle my children while so many others have empty arms and broken hearts. My heart aches for those families in Connecticut, and I pray for them often. As a teacher, the possibility of that situation is terrifying. As a parent, it is unfathomably horrific, and I can't bear to even think of it. Please pray for the entire community, but especially the families of the tiny victims.

I know this is rather late, but better late than never. Family takes priority over blogging :)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Quick Adoption Update & Randomness

Hello Friends,

On my last post, I mentioned that we were being considered for a baby girl in Atlanta; it was actually down to us and one other family, but we were not chosen (by the birth parents). So we are still waiting on a call about the next baby so we can be considered again.

We also are selling t-shirts as a fundraiser for our adoption, and we have not sold one yet. Please consider contributing in return for one of these great shirts. They are for sale for a limited time because Hope to Home, the company who designed and is selling them for us is closing up business. I don't know how much longer they will be available...weeks, a couple months...no idea. Just click the picture at the top of my sidebar to purchase.

We had one last yard sale a few weeks ago, and we made $133, which might not sound like much considering how we did on the others, but we had no large items or new donations. We wanted to try to clear a bit out of our garage before winter, and we succeeded; we even made a little toward the adoption.

I am also working on a bulk order of my handmade baby items for a lady who is opening up a store in Wisconsin; she contacted me on etsy and said she wants my goods in her store. It's a really large order (by far my largest yet), and it's been really daunting, but I'm making good progress. I am really excited to eliminate most of my flannel stock that's accumulated the last several months from various projects, not to mention, getting paid for it. The store opens at the first of the year, so I have about another month. 

We had Zoe's follow-up appointment with her ENT after having her second set of tubes put in, and everything looked good. While we were in Nashville for the afternoon, we had lunch with another couple whose sweet baby boy has also been diagnosed with Moebius. It was really great to meet this wonderful Christian family who lives so close to us; they are the first people we've actually met who have also been directly affected by Moebius.

We took our last trip of the season to the zoo, and it was a beautiful day; it usually seems to be raining whenever we go, but it wasn't this time.

We didn't make it to the pumpkin patch this year like we usually do. The weekend we planned to go was really wet and muddy, and we had free tickets for the kids to our local KidsFest, so we did that instead. It was fun, and all the money raised with the event benefits an organization that works with special needs children.

I can't believe it's already the week of Thanksgiving! Time really does go faster as you get older...and I'm turning 30 next month.

Abby will be five in a couple weeks (which I also can't believe), so I've been planning her Barbie-themed party. She got her present a little early this year. It's a step 2 playhouse; all three sets of grandparents are contributing to it (which is a huge help to us!), and it's really too big to hide for long. It will stay in the house until spring. I will post pics soon.

This year I put the tree up the first week of November...the earliest I've ever done it. I really wanted to, and I decided that it's enough work, I want to get to enjoy it for several weeks before it's time to put it all away. So our fall decorations are still up outside, but our Christmas decor is out inside.

As week get closer to Abby starting kindergarten in the fall, we are leaning more and more toward homeschooling. We are still not 100% decided, but I think we're going to give it a try. Abby has always wanted to go to school, but the last few weeks we have seen behaviors (brought home from playschool) that can only be taught by other children, and they are behaviors we don't particularly care for (attitude mostly and typical mean-middle-school-girl stuff), which I know is normal, and probably inevitable unless she lives in a tower (tempting). However, it seems horribly soon, and we aren't ready for that yet. I have started having a "school time" with her on the weekdays she doesn't go to playschool to test the waters a bit, and it's going pretty well most days.

Zoe traded in her gait trainer (walker with seat)  for an actual walker (no seat but with handles) last week after therapy, and she's going really great with it. She actually walks (and dances) with it; whereas, with the other one, she didn't do much at all most of the time. We're pretty excited about that. I took tours of a couple pre-k's a few weeks ago, chose one, and had a meeting about getting her in starting in Feb. when she turns three. I will do a post on that shortly.

Things have been wonderfully uneventful lately (other than the baby, the sewing, the yard sale, Zoe's appt...nevermind). Maybe uneventful is the wrong word here. Good is a good word for what's been going on lately. Things are going really well, just busy.

Zoe in the gait trainer.