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Onward and Upward

I had my six weeks post-op appointment with the neurosurgeon a couple of days ago. As he went over the various questions he had for me and I saw his response to my answers I got a fresh perspective on the whole situation. To me it seems like recovery is taking a long time, but he seemed both pleased and surprised with my progress and all I have regained. It reminded me how much I have to be thankful for!

I'm beginning to feel and function almost like a "normal" person. How exciting is that!?

And apparently along with feeling more normal, I'm also rather busy.  I started this several days ago and I'm finally getting back to it.  Right now I'm in the classroom looking out at my busy little tribe.  For the moment everyone is busy and there is nothing to grade. For the moment no one needs my computer for doing math so, for the moment, I'm free to write.

I keep looking around trying to figure out where the summer has gone. The days are cooler and cooler. The leaves are beginning to change. Autumn is definitely in the air, but it seems like it was just spring. It seems like we were just rejoicing in the longer, warmer days.

When I think about all that has happened since spring it is no wonder that I feel it has gone by in a blur.

There was the trip to China in June.

Since getting home just over two months ago, twenty-three of the children we saw have been matched with families.  Twenty-three!! Do you have any idea how many photos have been edited and uploaded, how many blog posts have been written, and how much time has been spent communicating with families for twenty-three children to be matched? Even though most of this falls on other people I am minimally involved.

Add to that having major surgery and recovery. Add having a stomach bleed and having my iron level hit low, low levels.

Add editing photos for families who were already matched and for other things such as fundraising events...

Add starting school...

I think you must be getting the picture...

I feel so blessed to be involved in these things that I love doing! How blessed am I that the things I love so dearly, family, photography, and advocacy, fit together so beautifully? How blessed am I that I can do these things in spite of the health challenges I have faced?

Today my heart is so full of gratitude.


Starting School 2014-15

Tuesday was our first day of school. I've been very undecided about a starting date with everything going on with my health, but we decided that we might as well ease on in to the school year this week.  We are not doing a full work load yet, but we are off to a good start!

Because I'm always interested in what curriculum other homeschooling families use, I'm going to give you a quick overview of our curriculum for this year.

Douglas 10th grade:
Saxon Algebra II
CTC Calculus
CLE Literature
Word Voyage English
Apologia Biology
CLE American History

Freeland 7th grade:
CTC Basic Math & Pre-Algebra
CLE Language Arts
Rod & Staff Reading
Apologia Zoology I
US History & Geography (using Drive Thru History and Little Passports)

Casper 5th grade:
CTC Math
CLE Language Arts
CLE Reading (6th grade level)
Apologia Zoology I
US History & Geography (using Drive Thru History and Little Passports)

Annika 2nd grade:
CTC Math
Explode the Code Phonics
CLE Language Arts
CLE Reading
Magic School Bus Science
US Geography (Little Passports)

Eliana Kindergarten:
CTC Math
Explode the Code Phonics
Various Workbooks for K
Magic School Bus Science
US Geography (Little Passports)

CTC is an online math curriculum that we are trying this year. We are only a few days in to the lessons, but so far I am pretty impressed with it.  We will see how it goes as the year progresses. The elementary Science, History, and Geography are all very interactive. We all loved the Apologia Science we did last year.

We have our classroom all nicely outfitted to fit our needs.  We replaced my desk with a love seat so that I can be comfortable even on days I'm not feeling great. It is very nice to have a place to sit with a child to read a story, etc.

We are off to a good start and expecting to learn a lot this year!



Has been very rough the last little bit.  Things were sailing along and I was doing so well with recovery, and suddenly I began to feel really horrible.  I will spare you the details, but it's not been good.  Maybe the worst part is that I have felt something akin to despair on top of the additional physical issues.  Thoughts like, "I will never get better, this is just the life I'm going to live" or, "My children deserve a mother who is able to take care of them" have plagued me.  It's been very difficult and debilitating.  I've done a lot of crying this week.

But... Thank God there is always a but!  Today I'm feeling a little better and it helps me to see things from a different perspective again. We are still not sure what my issue is this time, but we are testing and should know something soon.  As always, my support network is absolutely amazing with Keith and the kiddos leading the pack.  They never seem to tire of cheering me onward and upward, even when I can only manage a slow, painful hobble forward.

One question that keeps rolling around in my mind is, "What about school?"  We haven't started yet and I suppose we won't until I'm back on track with my health.  But that is one of the beautiful things about homeschooling, right?  We did get our school room all cleaned and ready, so when the time comes, we have everything all set up.  All five children will be in school this year.  I love getting everything ready and will be so excited when we can actually begin!

In the meantime they are enjoying the freedom of summer and the gorgeous weather we have been having.  In reality, in spite of my dire thoughts, they are doing quite well.  Everybody is so healthy and happy, growing and thriving, it is a wonderful thing to see.

We are staying close to home these days. (I mean yesterday I walked out to the picnic area and back and felt as if I had been on a major expedition...) Thankfully there are a lot of things for everyone to do around here.  The current favorite activity is building secret hide-outs in the woods then moving it to a new location when the siblings figure out where it is.  It is amazing how many hours have been spent moving hide-outs in the last couple of weeks!

So, there you go, an update on our life.  Onward and upward and there is always hope, my friends!



Yesterday evening we decided to take a little outing to one of our favorite local haunts.  It was a little difficult with taking my walker, but we did it and it was enjoyable for all of us.  The more normal things we can do as a family the better we all feel.


Sweet Things

I'm thinking back over the past week.  It's easy for me to feel somewhat discouraged as I'm still bed/sofa-bound much of the time.

Let me tell you about the sweet happenings of this past week:

My mom was here from Tuesday-Friday.  Watching the children enjoy her was so much fun!  She took them to the creek a couple of times, she helped them get their bedrooms nicely cleaned up, she sat outside and watched them play... And many other things that I can't do right now.  I so enjoyed listening to them all laugh together over different things!

And my friends, Pat Marcus and April Uduhiri, sent the girls a very sweet gift.  We let them open it yesterday morning and they have already spent hours playing with it!  Thank you so much, ladies!

There was much good news all around on the adoption advocacy front this week, which I can't share yet, but which I am so, so thankful for!

There is something about difficult times that can have a strengthening affect on a marriage.  I am so thankful that God blessed me with a husband who so tenderly cares for me and the rest of the family when I am weak and unable to do so.

And... (((drum-roll please))) I am gaining enough strength in my left leg that I now move about the house without a walker!  My lower leg, ankle, and foot are still basically numb, so I am very careful and often hold on to walls, etc. for support, but I am ever so thankful to not need it all of the time anymore!

I am also thankful that God is faithful in hard times as well as easy times.  He is always there, tenderly holding me through the pain and through the grief that goes along with uncertainty and loss of functionality.  He is always faithful!


Blow By Blow

I know how it goes, you think you will never forget, and then you do.  So I'm going to recount the past week in detail for my sake.  Because I want to remember.

For anyone who doesn't know, the previous couple of weeks I was trying to figure out what was wrong with my back and what we should be doing about it.  On Saturday of last week we got the MRI results showing that I had a very large ruptured disc.

Monday morning I woke up and was unable to put any weight on my left leg.  This posed a huge problem for me since it was nearly impossible to get comfortable in any position except for standing.  But I did the best I could with getting comfortable on the sofa for the day.  Keith called the doctor's office as soon as they opened to tell them about the new symptoms.  Late in the day we heard that I had an appointment with a neurosurgeon on Wednesday.  I thought surely I could hang in there until Wednesday!  That evening my doctor called and said he was looking over notes from the day since he hadn't been in the office.  He was pretty on the fence about whether we should go to the Emergency Room or wait for the Wednesday appointment.  We went to bed having pretty much decided we would head for the Emergency Room the next morning.

And that's what we did.  We took the girls along and headed off.  I felt pretty sure I wouldn't be home again until after back surgery.  We got there and they took all of my symptoms very seriously.  The amazing feeling of pain relief going through an IV is not one I'll forget soon!  Dr. Thurmond was the neurosurgeon on call, he very quickly decided to admit me to the hospital and operate as soon as he could.  He scheduled surgery for the next morning but said if there was a cancellation that afternoon they would operate sooner.  It was such a huge relief to have a plan and to be where I needed to be!  Even with the pain relief available in the hospital I was still in terrible pain most of that night.  By morning I couldn't wait to be put out completely!

Keith, Casper, Annika, and Eliana came and waited with me on Wednesday morning until it was surgery time.  They took me back and the next thing I knew it was over.  And the throbbing pain was gone.  That is the most amazing feeling ever.  To wake up to an absence of pain that has been constant for weeks.

Thursday and Friday were spent in the hospital.  Unfortunately I have a lot of nerve damage and have lost the use of my left leg as well as various other functions.  So I could not go home until I was safe walking with a walker.  By Friday I had accomplished this goal and was cleared to go home.

Now it's Sunday and every day is getting better and easier.  Recovering from back surgery is no picnic, but it's a whole lot easier than living with a ruptured disc!

Once the swelling goes down completely we should have a better idea how badly the nerves were actually damaged.  Nerves can heal, but they heal very slowly, so we are probably looking at weeks and possibly months before my leg is back to normal.  At this point I need a walker to get around.  With time I hope to be able to use a cane and then nothing.  But only time will tell if there is permanent damage or not.

Right now I am just unbelievably grateful that I have access to medical care that many people in the world don't have.  I am now recovering very comfortably.  Every day there is less pain and movement becomes easier.  Every day I cry again with sheer overwhelming gratitude that this ordeal is behind me and I am moving forward and recovering.


My Baby Turns Six

Every mother says it, blink and the children are grown.  I have further evidence that this is a fact:

My baby girl just turned six. 

She has been with us for 2 1/2 years.  She has gone from being basically the size and maturity level of an 18 month old to being only slightly small and delayed for six.  She has gained fifteen pounds and grown 14 inches.  She has not only learned to communicate quite well in English, she has also learned how to function as part of a family unit.  She has learned to trust us.

Yesterday morning she told Keith, "The Chinese people don't know my name!"  So he was telling her how he gave her his name (Martin) because she is his girl.  He told her he gave his name to all of his girls.  Apparently she has been thinking about this because this morning she informed me, "I'm Eliana Keith Martin, Mommy, because Daddy gave me his name."  It was so adorable!

Anyway, our baby had a birthday and turned six.  She looked forward to it for weeks and relished every moment of the day as only a six year old can.  I relished it with her, but felt a little sad too. How can they all just keep growing up like this?

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