Friday, September 26, 2014

Live in the moment

Death is something we know is coming. And yet, I am surprised when I hear of someone passing away. It's almost as if I forget that we are mortal. Recently, another trauma mama's husband died unexpectedly. I have contemplated how she must be trudging on, day-by-day, with her special needs children and no spouse to comfort her or share the load.

My dad passed away when I was twenty years old. I saw my mom struggle as she went about supporting our family financially and in every other way, too. I look at my dear husband, Tyler, and wonder how long he will be on the earth with me.

Tyler recently learned that he will be deploying something in the next 3 years. We were hoping he would avoid a deployment, but his commander thinks it would help him make rank and would look good on his record. I won't lie in saying that the idea of him being gone for 6+ months worries me. It's not the idea of him being gone, although that will be tough, it's the idea that he won't be coming back. Good men deploy and good men give their lives in military service.

Above all, I believe that God will not take us before our time on this earth is over. I just hope that Tyler still has a lot left to do here and that we will have many more years ahead of us, together. However, in case it is God's will to bring Tyler back to Him, I am trying to focus on serving my dear husband every day as if it is his last.

It seems logical that we should do this: live in the moment and bless our all loved ones as often as we can. Make their favorite meal, read their favorite book, take that trip to the park, show extra love and care. Our time here is short. One day I hope to look back and say that I focused on the important things: my family.

Families are forever.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Happy Birthday Grandpa Bob

Every year we celebrate my dad's birthday. This year he would have been 76 years old. I am sad that my husband and children never knew Grandpa Bob. He was a kind and loving dad to me. He encouraged me in anything I wanted to do and made me feel beautiful and capable. He also taught me how to sing in harmony from a very young age. Any errands he would need to go on, I was invited to join him and chat about life. He taught me the gospel of Jesus Christ and to memorize the articles of faith. He was an incredible missionary and he loved his Savior. I am so grateful for the legacy he left behind. We always have hot dogs, dr pepper, and spice cake - his favorites!

As this is my first year being gluten free, I had to adapt the recipes. Below is a gluten free spice cake and some gluten free rolls that I used as hot dog buns. They were both delicious, even I was pleasantly surprised how good they were. 

Roll recipe found here.

Recipe found here.

I looked up a simple cream cheese glaze online from Martha Stewart and it went nicely with the cake. 

Tyler reading some of Dad's poems. He wrote many wonderful poems. Here are a couple he wrote about me:

Dad drank Dr Pepper before he became diabetic, then it was on to Diet Dr Pepper.

This photograph was taken as we began fundraising to raise money for Dad's heart transplant. Unfortunately, the surgery was unsuccessful and Dad passed away. My son, Calvin, has the middle name of Robert and is named after my Dad. He, too, will have to face a heart transplant one day.

I will forever be grateful to this man who gave so much of his time to me. He wanted to know my thoughts, my interests, and he was the best cheerleader I could have ever hoped to have. I love you, Dad. I miss you everyday.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Endocrinology for Iryna

Today we met with the endocrinologist about Iryna. To my knowledge, this is the first time she has met with an endo since we first adopted her. I am concerned because Iryna doesn't seem to be growing very much, ie staying in the same size of clothing for more than 2 years, and also because she is beginning to develop in what looks like puberty. The idea of Iryna beginning menstrual cycles is enough to scare me, although I realize it will happen eventually. We went in to discuss the idea of growth hormone and possibly deterring the onset of puberty. After meeting with the doctor, he said she is not eligible for either growth hormones or preventing puberty. She is 10 years old and she is on par with where she should be, puberty-wise. He indicated that she *should* begin her cycles in a couple of years. He also stated that Iryna should reach the height of about 4 foot 10 inches...can you believe that?! My jaw about hit the floor. I knew she wouldn't be tall - but I somehow assumed she would reach at LEAST 5 feet. Ha ha. I guess we will have some "being short" related jokes in our household in the near future. This also answers my questions for endocrinology for Keith, Calvin, and Silas who are all short in stature. The doctor did say that I should try to fatten Iryna and the boys up by giving them milkshakes every night. So, we are going to give that a go.

Monday, September 08, 2014

What's new with Iryna

As you know, we've had a difficult summer, and Iryna has most certainly struggled as we have made major changes in her life. She was excited about the changes but they also overwhelmed her. Iryna has always allowed for me to be affectionate with her. If I asked her for a hug or for a snuggle, she would oblige. Sometimes she would have her arm between me and her when hugging me, sometimes not. I recognized that affection wasn't her strong point, but I know how important affection is for everyone so I made the effort to show it. Well, in the past two weeks, Iryna has come up to me and hugged me on her own. She has also asked me for a snuggle! I am excited for this progress!

Her hair is growing out some, although some people still mistaken her for a boy.

There are days when Iryna tries to control her impulses - and days where she doesn't. I don't know how to motivate her to WANT to overcome the impulses. I hope in time that she will find the motivation from within herself. She truly is a GOOD GIRL who has to overcome herself to improve. Such a struggle!

She seems to like her new school here, especially riding the bus with Keith. They are both in the same class, which I'm not exactly thrilled with - I think they might learn better being separated from each other as Iryna tends to baby Keith somewhat. 

Iryna has her own room, which I am thinking is a must for her. It consists of a queen mattress and box spring set in the middle of the room, some curtains - up high so she cannot reach them, a picture of Christ and the temple, a closet (with an alarm so she won't go in and break all the hangers or change clothes multiple times throughout the night) and a door alarm, so she won't go roaming the house unattended during the night. I recently bought The Clone Wars wall decals for the boys room and Iryna was very jealous, so I bought her some Super Mario wall decals for her room. She. Loves. Them. In fact, she asks to go up to her room so she can look at the wall decals - they are up high on the wall so she cannot reach them, otherwise she would try to remove them. 

Iryna still enjoys puzzles. Sometimes she rips the puzzle pieces apart, which is irritating. She has also removed the Mario sticker from our wii remote. It's not that she wants to keep the sticker or the tops of the puzzle pieces...she just wants to destroy them. Such an oddity that I still don't understand after six years. 

She loves Calvin AND is incredibly jealous of Calvin. Everyone in the room can be wearing shorts - or "leggies" as she calls them - but she will pout and say, "Only CALVIN!" and stick her chin out at him. It is bizarre. Now Silas is picking up on this habit. Ugh. 

Iryna is still underweight, despite my feeding her as much food as she wants. We are making an appointment with an endocrinologist to see about growth hormone. Anyone have any experience with that?

Iryna is still very oral and enjoys sucking on metal or hard plastic objects. I need to get her some more items to chew on. Any suggestions? Right now we have a few barrel of monkey monkeys that she likes. I took this video of her chewing on the monkey the other night. 


I think Iryna is making some progress. There are some things she has grown out of and I have learned how to prevent things from happening - like no more items in her room other than what is absolutely necessary. Motherhood can be challenging, but whenever Iryna runs up and gives me a hug? That is liquid gold. I love my Ukrainian princess!

Friday, September 05, 2014

Back to School

This summer has been rough on me. I had ideas of what the summer would hold, but life happens and we must adapt. I am grateful for the new memories I was able to make in Oklahoma with my family. My kids feel more close to them now than ever and still ask about them. Transitioning to the DC area has been difficult. There have been several times where Tyler and I both have felt like things were against us. We have had verizon fiber optic internet installed - which is supposed to be amazing - and we've had three servicemen out to figure out why it is super slow. Still no improvement there. The area we live in struggles with phone reception and service. We had to switch from AT&T because AT&T doesn't cover my neighborhood. It was sort of comical - people would call but I would only get voicemails on my phone. Imagine trying to set up utilities and doctor appointments but not being able to receive calls. So, we switched to Virgin mobile and now I get phone calls, but people say my voice is difficult to hear. So now we are trying to see if they can fix that or if we need to switch to yet, another cell phone carrier. 

Medical care has also been a beast. For one, the appointment line receptionists aren't nice - which is a first for me in my 9 years of Air Force medical care treatment. Second, our new PCM wasn't able to meet with us for the whole month of August. We got in initially to get Iryna's medication filled but after jumping through hoops over the course of 3 weeks, we had to get another appointment to get a written script so we could go to CVS to get it filled. We can't not have Iryna on meds. It wouldn't be pretty, folks. Another issue is getting referrals close to where we live, instead of the 90 minute commute that most referral locations want us to make. So far we have gotten two out of the several that I need nearby, but Anna has been out of her accutane for 6 weeks now and no dermatology appointment is even made yet. Frustrating!

Trying to enroll 5 kids in school, with 3 having IEPs, has also been interesting. The school administration decided to spread my 5 kids into 4 separate schools. Thankfully, all kids will be on a bus route. However, the first two days of school, they would only bus two of the kids. So I needed to drive the twins and Silas to their schools - both of which were 20 minutes away. Silas only goes half-day, so I was making three 20 minute commutes, which added up to 2 hours of driving per day and I was only getting 1 hour and 45 minutes of a break within all that. It was TOUGH. And our a/c is out in the van. I am not trying to complain (at least not consciously) but it's been so hard on me physically. It is hot outside and I am sweating a ton and trying to deal with new schedules and the stress that I feel multiplied by the stress my children feel with starting a new school year. Thankfully, today they got the twins and Silas on their bus routes - so no more commuting for me! Yippee! Today I get 4 1/2 hours of uninterrupted time. It is sweet bliss, I tell you. And here are the photos you're looking for of my 5 kids. Aren't they cute?

Thursday, September 04, 2014

36 years young

I turned 36 this week. Why does 36 sound so much older than 35? It was Labor Day weekend, which meant my husband was home! That was a gift in and of itself. Also, my kids started school this week - another gift!

My dear sister, Heather, wrote the following about me on Instagram for my big day:
Happy happy birthday to my beautiful older sister, Jill! What an inspiration you are to me. You are my rock. No one understands me the way you do, and we have shared everything together. Thank you for always being there for me, always making time to listen and to comfort. Thank you for being patient with me and for loving me no matter what. You mean the world to me and I cannot imagine life without you! I hope you get spoiled today - you deserve it more than anyone!! xo
My kids wanted to share birthday fun with me via Legos! On the left is my Le Creuset Dutch Oven made by Calvin, in the middle is a bowl of vanilla ice cream that Keith and I put together, and Iryna made me a chocolate cake! I have the best kids!

Birthday Breakfast: GF Baked French Toast

Tyler took me out to a local Mexican restaurant for lunch. They had the best Horchata. Yum. Tyler was so sweet and told me how extraordinary of a person I am. I must admit, I have been feeling a bit low lately. I was feeling less than spectacular and there is nothing like a sincere compliment to buoy me up. Tyler is good at that. And so is my sister, Hache. 

I had bought a dutch oven that had legs on it - for camping and emergency preparedness - but I found recipes that called for a dutch oven that could be used in the know, on the stove AND in the oven? Well, I figured that it was time to get one and it just happened to coincide with my birthday. Don't you love it when that happens? Well, I have used it once and I cannot wait to use it again. Such high quality! And I got free shipping on Amazon Prime. 

Okay, so the woman on the far right is in my ward. I was needing some more Sunday appropriate music so I ordered this CD for my birthday. I highly recommend it! You can get yours here.

My sweet mother asked me what I wanted for my birthday, so I gave her two choices. Of course she got them both AND in orange, I might add. She knows me well. 

Wow! This is my first GF Chocolate Cake and it was delicious. Here is the link to the recipe. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

One month here

We have been in our new home for a month now. We are all unpacked and everything has a place, for the most part. School starts next week and we are ready for it!

Tyler is enjoying his job, although not the commute. Our evenings are precious now that they are so short in family time. 

I am trying to get all the dr appointments made and following up with referrals and scheduling therapies and getting medicine picked up. There is so much to coordinate and sometimes I spend hours on the phone, which is emotionally overwhelming. I forget how much there is to do when we move to a new place. I needed a change, so I got a haircut! The a/c going out on our van was a deciding factor. 

Anna is back to practicing the piano. She still hates it, but I have developed a new practice plan. She has a new hymn assigned to her each week. A week later I have her play me the hymn. If I can sing along with it, she gets assigned a new hymn. If not, she loses electronic privileges for the following week. It has been quite motivating to her! And in the end, I get what I want: for her to be proficient in playing the church hymns. 

Keith is obsessed with the movie Monsters vs Aliens now, which my good friend, Amie, let us borrow. 

Iryna went to Activity Day Camp this last week. She had a BLAST! I took her up to the church to carpool with other girls. One day, we showed up and there were some girls standing in a semicircle talking. Without a word from me, Iryna walked up and joined the circle. I was struck with how she knew how to act in this social situation. I was so proud of her!

Calvin is really into STAR WARS now. He loves pretending to be Anakin and swinging a pool noodle around like a light saber. Calvin caught a fever this past week and we had a five hour visit to the ER. He is doing better now. 

Silas had a fever last week, also. He has taken to playing with Legos now. He loves building things for his Mama.