Oct 13, 2009

Brother Daniel is coming to America!!!!

Here are pictures of Kelcey, Evans, Maggie and Daniel playing Triominos, the score sheet showing Daniel's winning score (he insisted that we take a picture of it) , all of us eating at a Chinese restaraunt in Osu, and Daniel showing his muscles. I bet he never thought that picture would get out on the web!



Daniel got his visa (not an easy process) in Accra and is coming to America next week for 2-3 months. He will be staying with a pastor from Ghana here in South Seattle. He was an amazing help to us while we were in Ghana (both trips) and he is still a good friend to Maggie and Kelcey through facebook. I can't wait for him to meet our boys here in the US. YAY!!!! Looking back at these pictures sure brings back memories. I hardly had time to process one trip then it was back again, then when I arrived home withthe kids and and Comfort ended up in Children's Hospital 8 days later, it was all a whirlwind. It's nice to take time to look at the pictures now. I remember Maggie in the top picture, she was so sick, you can see how swollen her face was, but she's one to never miss a game night party! What a trip.....lots of good, some bad, some horrible and some great. TOTALLY WORTH EVERY MINUTE.
Lanae

Last of summer in Seattle



I just found these pictures that we took in September in Seattle. We are blessed to live by a beautiful city!
Lanae

Red trees, falling leaves, cold hands........





We have had an amazing summer with our new family, but sadly for me (I love summer!!) we are moving into fall in the Pacific Northwest. Much to Brian, Josephine and Comfort's amazement, the trees are turning colors and the leaves are falling off the trees! They have so many questions about fall, why do the leaves fall, will the trees die, why do my hands hurt when they are cold......
It has been so interesting and fun to be able to teach them all the new things. Today we started school with a nature walk to look at all the beautiful trees and gather some leaves to make leaf rubbings. Yesterday we went to the Ballard Locks and saw the migrating salmon going through the fish ladder, and also had a lesson on how to put on a coat over a long sleeve shirt. Some things you take for granted, thinking that your kids just automatically know them, but all of these things were taught to them when they were toddlers. However, in Ghana there are no coats and long sleeve shirts, no painful freezing hands, no fall weather, no falling leaves.
Notice that Nathan is still holding out and wearing shorts!! He loves summer too.
Lanae

Oct 7, 2009

First Snow!

SUNRISE at MT. RAINIER


WHY DO BOYS ALWAYS HAVE TO STAND ON THE FARTHEST TIP OVERHANGING THE DANGEROUS CLIFF?????
HOW FUNNY IS THIS PICTURE....LOOK AT THEIR FACES, THEY WERE TRYING TO SMILE BUT THE SNOW WAS SOOO COLD TO THEM.
I LOVE MY MAN!!!

BRIAN AND NATHAN ARE GREAT BUDDIES
THIS WAS THE VERY FIRST TIME THEY HAD EVER TOUCHED SNOW

Today we went on an amazing hike at Sunrise on Mt. Rainier and Brian, Josephine and Comfort got to see and touch their first snow!! They were so excited, then they realized how cold it is! It was really funny to talk to them about why your hands hurt when they get cold and how to warm them up. They have never had snowy cold hands before and had no idea how to get them warm.
It was so nice to finally be out doing our favorite activity with the kids. Comfort had to be carried up the trail (it's so great to have a manly 15 year old son prove how strong he is by carrying his heavy little sister up the hill!) but then she was able to walk on the flat parts. She is improving but still has compromised heart function that will keep improving with time. I still am amazed at what a miracle she is, tromping around Mt Rainier like a trooper!
We really have not been hiking the whole summer because we knew that Comfort would not be able to so this was a great treat for us.
Next summer we are definitely going hiking at Sunrise, anyone want to join us?? Knox family maybe? Ryan, Tamara, Cassidy and our new granddaughter in a pack?
Lanae

Sep 17, 2009

Random Pictures

The next few posts are just some random pictures of things that have been happening at our house lately. Everything is going really great with the kids. We have started homeschooling and the kids are doing really well. Brian is so smart and has no problems catching on. Josephine is also really smart and is learning to read. Comfort is doing well and learning her letter sounds. I can tell that she was not worked with as much, probably because she never felt well, but she seems to be an eager learner and is doing good.



The heater core in Kelcey's car went out, so she got out the repair book and completely dismantled the dash and put in a new one.

...................then she made some cupcakes and took these pictures of them.
It amazes me how flexible and well rounded my kids are!

THE GIRLS HAIR




REALLY COLD RAIN!!!!



FUN DAY AT THE PARK.........FINALLY THE GIRLS HAIR IS LONG ENOUGH TO DO SOMETHING CUTE!

Aug 23, 2009

SOCKS......A GHOST FROM THE PAST

Brian, Cassidy, Josephine and Comfort on the trampoline. They have so much fun together!
Brian, Josephine and Comfort spent hours trying to catch fish with a tin can at Lake Kachees. They are certainly persistent!

I know I haven't blogged in a while, but I really have been busy! We are gearing up for another co-op year and this year that included finding a new facility in addition to putting together the schedule. We have over 30 families this year that will be coming to our Friday School!
We are continuing to adjust as a new family and everything seems to be going well. I have spent weeks putting together three more sets of school curriculum, not easy when I had no idea what the kids knew. At least now I have a good idea of where they are and what I can expect this coming year.
Now, I bet your wondering about the blog title?
Last Sunday we were getting ready for church and I gave Comfort her black shoes and told her not to wear any socks. All of my Ghana kids like to wear socks (with every type of shoe) pulled up to their knees, so this particular Sunday I was looking for a little more fashion, sandles with no socks please.
Next thing I know Comfort is quietly sobbing, but being a well traveled mommy I stuck to my guns and we head off for church with Comfort wearing no socks and sobbing. By the time we got to church and sat down she was pretty much over it, so I didn't think much more about it until the next day when Brian and I were looking at some pictures of the school they attended in Ghana. One of the pictures was a common one of all the kids gathered in their uniforms before school and Brian told me that this was 'assembly' and during this time the kids would be checked to make sure they had SOCKS ON and if they had lost their socks they would get 'caned' (my kids call it beat or caned explaining that in Ghana they used a cane to discipline them). Well, that explained the sobbing, Comfort thought she would be caned if we let her go without socks. She has had this reaction quite a few times, even thinking that Mark would cane her if she didn't get out of bed right when the sun came up. We are still working through this one and she is relaxing and sleeping in a little bit, but I can tell she still wakes up expecting to be in trouble if she has slept in.
Nothing ruffles my mommy feathers more than to hear all the caning stories from the kids. I might not have believed them totally, but both Laurel and I accidentally caught teachers at the school caning kids in the background of our pictures. We didn't notice it at the time, but back at the hotel when we looked at the pictures they are there in the back of the classes with a long stick smacking the kids. I know that his is common in Ghana and not seen as wrong (even Daniel told us how he was caned in school) , but I don't like it at all......
Oh, we talked to Comfort and assured her that she will not get caned if she losses her socks and she was very happy about that.
Lanae

Jul 23, 2009

Comfort continues to effect people around the world!

(Here is Comfort at soccer camp 5 weeks after open heart surgery!!!)

I thought I would share this comment that I received from a wonderful adopting mom who has now been to Ghana and is home with her adopted daughter. You can check out her blog at http://lemongrovelane.blogspot.com/ and see pictures of her trip and of her trip to Korle Bu Hospital where we took Comfort the day after we arrived in Ghana. When the cardiologist at Korle Bu told us that children don't have chest pain with heart conditions I knew that there was nothing they could do for her there. They just don't have the equipment, supplies, or specified knowledge in cardiology. But, the outcome was great! Comfort made it home to the US with 8 days to spare (isn't God's timing amazing??) and was admitted to Seattle Children's Hospital with chest pain caused by her failing right ventricle.
It is so great that Jeanie was able to bring much needed supplies to Korle Bu. Here is the comment that she left on May 27th:

I came across your blog address this morning and saw that yesterday was your day to take Comfort to Children's Hospital. She has continued in my thoughts and prayers, and I hope all went well yesterday. I will eagerly watch for good news on your blog! :) By the way, Laurel's blog post detailing your trip to Korle-Bu resulted in my having made contact with an organization dedicated to helping the kids there. They put me in touch with a doctor there, and I now have several suitcases full of medical supplies to bring to them (most from a local hospital, and we are also buying some additional equipment.) We're hoping to go to Ghana in the next week or two. So, Comfort's visit to the hospital in Accra will directly result in some help for the other pediatric patients as well - I just you might like to know the effect Comfort had! :)

Lanae

Jul 19, 2009

Family Pictures


Here are some great family pictures with all 8 kids and our granddaughter and daughter in law and our future grandchild is hiding in Tamarah's tummy! I got a great side shot of Tamarah's cute round tummy, but I'll save that one for our family album!
On the bridge from front to back: Cassidy (our granddaughter) Comfort, Josephine, Brian, Nathan (great smile Nate) Lanae (Mom) , Maggie, Tamarah (our daughter in law, married to Ryan) Kelcey, Ryan, Tyler and Mark (Dad)

We are having so much fun with the new kids, and they are doing great. They have been such a blessing to our family. We just can't believe that they are here and Comfort has had her surgery and is all healed. Wow, amazing.
Lanae

Jul 7, 2009

We're still here!

I know it's been a while since I have updated and I have received some emails wondering if we are still alive :) We have been laying low, taking a breather, adjusting to our new improved family life!! I will be posting pictures over the next few days of all of our family adventures during the last month but for now I wanted to update everyone on how we are doing. We are really doing great. As you know the first few weeks home were sooooo stressful and the months before coming home were just as stressful, however I have to say that everything has worked out so well. Comfort has recovered from surgery in record time, Brian and Josephine have adjusted great and were so good while mom was away at Children's with Comfort. Mark and I have discussed how things could have gone so differently with the kids at home and mom away, but my bio kids stepped up to the challenge (as always!) and took over the home front and my new kids were great.
Comfort has had another echo cardiogram and everything looks great. Her heart is functioning well enough that her cardiologist doesn't want to see us back for 6 months!!! She now runs full speed around our yard and is so happy!
We also had our Brian and Josephine's post adoption medical appointment and had all the tests done and we are happy to report that all of the blood tests came back negative (Hep., HIV, TB, Anemia, etc).
The kids are eating well, and I am planning on posting a list of foods that I made for them that helped them to adjust to our American food. I love to cook and have taught a cooking class called 'Cooking Around the World' so I was really excited to learn to cook some Ghanaian meals and I asked lots of food questions while in Ghana. I have heard different opinions about food adjustments and adopted children, but our method seemed to work really well, so I will post about it soon for those of you who are adopting and looking for ideas.
We are now off to the orthopedic doctor. While I was in Ghana I noticed that Comfort favored one leg so I asked Children's while she was there and they suggested checking it out after she recovered from surgery, so off we go. We are praying that it's not serious, but also thanking God that we have excellent medical care when we need it. We are truly blessed in so many ways.

Moving into a new stage of life as one big happy family! We love our new normal!!!
Lanae

Jun 9, 2009

Surprise!!

Guess what? Comfort came home today!!!!!! She had her surgery Friday and today (Tuesday) around noon they told me that everything looked really good and they were just waiting for one more x-ray and if that came out good she could go home. I WAS SHOCKED! Then I started to get a little freaked out because now she would be home with no nurses or monitors, did I forget that God Himself has sustained this little girl? What do I have to be afraid of?
So now we are at home, Comfort is happy, up and around, eating well and looks really good. Even her scar is healing so great, you can barely tell she was cut open. Praying we won't have any bumps in the road and that all will continue to go well.
I'm going to go spend time with all my kiddos!
Lanae

Out of ICU, YAY!!

We have moved to a regular room! Yesterday Comfort was 'finished' with ICU (her words). She tried to get up and leave and said 'Mom. I will not sleep here' in her cute Ghanaian accent. Once we got to the new room she was better, she just didn't want any more pokes or tubes removed. What a culture shock for her. I realized that today she has been in the hospital 8 days, so equal to the amount of time she spent at our house. Everyday I tell her she will still live at our house and mommy will be her mommy forever and she will still get to sleep in her new bed. It's been a very interesting process. Not quite by the book according to all the adoption info, but I haven't heard or read any advice on how to bring a child from a rural Ghanaian orphange to America for 8 days then put them in the hospital for heart surgery while they try to adjust to EVERYTHING being different, the food, the environment, the smells (which I think are much better here!) the people.......and on top of it getting poked and being in pain and not quite understanding the process. It's a lot for a little girl to take. I guess that's why God made her such a fighter.
We are expecting to bring her home this week, maybe even in a couple days!! WOW, isn't that amazing?? I can't even believe that the adoption is final, the kids are here, and Comfort has had her surgery and now she's almost ready to go home. YAY!!!!
I'm looking forward to finally getting back to 'normal' life. Yeah I know it will be a new normal, not quite the same as before but I also believe this is all God's plan, His timing and it will be good!
Lanae

Jun 8, 2009

ICU



Comfort is recovering well, she's still in ICU but they have removed her chest tube and are weaning her off some of the medications that you see in the second picture. As soon as they get her off some of the meds, she will be moved to the regular floor. She still needs prayer that her heart will function well without the medications and that she will continue to strengthen. She was in a lot of pain after surgery, but is doing better.
She has far surpassed the doctors expectations! Thank you Lord!!!
Lanae

Pre-Op







Here are some pictures of Comfort before the surgery

Jun 7, 2009

Day at the beach




While Mark and I were at the hospital Kelcey took the kids to the beach. Everyone seems to be adjusting well, but they all miss us!


Jun 5, 2009

PRAISE REPORT

Comfort went in to surgery today around 1:00 and at 4:30 the surgeon met us in the family room to give us the good news. The surgery went much better and quicker than expected. As soon as the blockage was removed from her heart the right ventricle began to work and did not need support, PRAISE GOD!!! It also reduced in size by 50% during the procedure!! Everything else looked great and everything on the monitors was also great. Really, really good news after all the 'just in case' preparations they gave us.
Comfort is still sedated and on a breathing tube until tomorrow morning, but that's much better than the original plan of possibly having her on a heart pump after surgery for days or weeks.
THANK YOU EVERYONE FOR YOUR PRAYERS!!! I believe that God has heard and answered. He has a great plan for Comfort's life!!
Lanae

Jun 3, 2009

Surgery now on Friday

Comfort's surgery has been rescheduled for Friday. They needed to have a bed available for her in ICU and did not have one for Thursday so her surgery is now on Friday. Please continue to pray for her heart, specifically the right ventricle, also however God leads you to pray because He knows all the details that we don't.
Today she is doing great. The nurse showed her once how to unhook her monitor to get out of bed and use the bathroom, and she now unhooks all her wires, goes to the bathroom then gets back in bed and hooks everything back up. She's an amazing girl! And she always has a big smile for the doctors, so sweet!
Totally trusting Him for the outcome,
Lanae

Jun 2, 2009

Comfort update

Thank you so much for your prayers! Today Comfort was much better with no pain and was actually up talking and laughing. Yesterday really got the doctors attention though, they are very concerned and are not letting her go home until after surgery. The surgery is scheduled for Thursday, but I met with the surgeon today and that might change depending on if they have a bed available in ICU for her surgery recovery.
Our big prayer need is that her right ventricle in her heart will miraculously begin to function normally as soon as they remove her obstruction. The surgeon told me that the surgery would be relatively easy, the concern is that her right ventricle, which is now failing, will completely fail or not recover after surgery. I believe that God needs to miraculously heal that part of her heart and am praying that He will. The surgeon also said that there is no choice, she has to have surgery or she will not survive, but we knew that already it's just weird to hear the professional say it.
She is feeling good today, so we are also praying that she will continue to be pain free until the surgery.
God is good. He amazes me daily!
Lanae

Jun 1, 2009

Day 8

This morning we made an emergency trip to Children's Hospital. Comfort got out of bed early and was crying with chest pain, shortness of breath and drenched in sweat. The doctors at children's had just met this morning to discuss her surgery and had scheduled it for sometime within the next month, however she has now been admitted and is in ICU and they have re-scheduled her surgery for Thursday at the latest. She had 3 scary episodes while in the ER and one was right in front of the cardiologist. This really got them moving quick. Doctors and nurses ran in and did an amazing job giving her oxygen and morphine to relieve the pain. They are hoping to stabilize her and monitor her for a couple days then take her in for surgery Thursday, but are keeping a close eye on her in ICU and will take her in to emergency surgery if she continues to have problems overnight.
So as the title says......it's day 8 in the USA. That means if Comfort would have been in Ghana only 8 more days, she would have been in real trouble and probably would not have survived. The doctors described it as she has been walking a thin line balancing between doing okay and not doing okay and today she slipped over to the not doing okay side.
THE OTHER THING WE FOUND OUT TODAY IS THAT HER CONDITION IS MORE ADVANCED THAN FIRST THOUGHT. HER UPCOMING SURGERY IS VERY SERIOUS AND DIFFICULT AND RECOVERY IS EQUALLY AS DIFFICULT. WE NEED YOUR PRAYERS!!!!! PLEASE PRAY FOR HER SURGERY AND RECOVERY. WE BELIEVE THAT GOD PRESERVED HER LIFE WHILE IN GHANA AND WE NEED HIM TO CONTINUE TO SUSTAIN HER ALONG WITH THE EXCELLENT MEDICAL CARE THAT CHILDREN'S IS PROVIDING.

We can't begin to thank all of you for your prayers and support. It's a little overwhelming to be going through this so soon after all the adoption stuff, but we are so thankful that this happened here and not in Ghana. Comfort is so sweet and soooo funny! We love her so much and are so thankful for American medical care!
Brian and Josephine are still doing great. They love it here and are adjusting well. Today was a little scary for them, but they asked questions and were happy with the answers. They knew that Comfort would need to go to the hospital to get her heart fixed so they were expecting it and knew what was happening. They are great kids!

Lanae

May 31, 2009

May 27, 2009

Doctor Visit

Yesterday we went to Children's Hospital for Comforts first visit. How wonderful they are! I called them from Ghana on Friday while we were waiting for our flight and they scheduled us to come right in on Tuesday morning (Monday being a holiday). The doctors were all excited to see Comfort and really interested in her. The condition that she has is usually diagnosed early in the states and surgically repaired before it progresses to this stage, so it was very interesting for them to see it at such an advanced stage. The defect that she has is an obstruction of the outflow of blood from her heart going to her lungs. Because of this obstruction her heart muscle has to work extra hard to squeeze the blood through the restricted opening, this in turn has thickened and enlarged the heart muscle (think of what lifting weights does for your arm muscles) which causes the obstruction to become more restricted. Without surgery, eventually it would have completely obstructed and she would not have survived, which probably would have been soon from what it looked like. We also found out that because her heart has become so large it has moved her liver 3 inches lower than normal. She really did need to get here to have medical care. The doctors were so surprised at how advanced it was.
The prognosis is good though. The doctor is meeting with the surgical team to plan her surgery and then they will open her chest and fix the obstruction and remove the enlarged tissue from the heart and that will allow her liver to move back into a normal position. We were told that she sould have a completely normal life.
The doctors were so great. They were also very attentive and interested in her case. they kept coming in and talking about her and looking at the monitors. I think they were really excited.
Comfort was so funny. She was really worried that we would be going to a hospital like the one in Ghana and the first thing she said when we left was "Mom, that hospital was really nice". Isn't that funny that she would even process that? Maybe it was the teddy bear, stickers and movie? Oh, and the really cool thing was we met Kristin http://thejagfam.blogspot.com/ and her kids while we were at Children's. How cool!!!
After our taxing day at Children's we took our little princess to lunch. What a contrast. 3 weeks ago she was living in an orphanage struggling to survive in the heat and now here she was sitting in a waterfront restaurant eating calamari and loving every minute of it.
Brian and Josephine are also doing great. Everyone is sleeping well, eating great and seem to be adjusting really well. We are all happy to be together finally. It was a long wait!
Lanae

May 25, 2009

More Pictures

Ryan and Tamarah took all the kids to the beach, they had so much fun!