Monday, July 29, 2013

Horsing Around

Curly got to ride with reins today! She rode Tawney, who is a lovely, well-trained bay. 

Brittany, Curly's teacher (who is wonderful, by the way) calls this Tawney's "grumpy summer work face."

They also did some long-line work, and Curly learned to balance even when Tawney stopped or turned suddenly. 

They did a little hill work. 

Tawney showed her opinion about carrying a beginner on a hot day. 

But Curly had a ball.

(Note: We were given the option to wear a helmet, and chose not to. Brittany's horses are gentle, and well-trained, and people have been riding horses for thousand of years without helmets.)

Sunday, July 28, 2013


We spent all of yesterday building a patio and I refinished two benches to use on it. It was a fun, frugal, exhausting, exhilarating project, and then the kids and I slept in the tent. Was I ever pooped this morning, but it was worth it. :)

Comparing Heights

Comparing the heights of kids at the same age, Natta is 100th percentile, while Abi is off the charts on the short side. Another interesting note is that during the past 13 months, every kid grew exactly the same amount. 


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A little scary

Last night, Hubby took the kids to ride bikes in a nearby flat parking lot. They came home early when Little Mister got stung by a bee (first time) and started reacting to it. He broke out in hives all over his body; his skin became mottled and he was mopey. I took one look at him when he got home and sent Hubby directly to the ER with him. 

There, he got a shot of epinephrine, an IV with Benadryl, a nebulizer to open his rapidly closing airways, and a Claritin tablet. 

Hubby says he was Very Brave and did not even cry at the insertion of the IV. Hubby, bless his heart, texted me so I wouldn't worry. We all stayed pretty calm, because we'd caught it early and we knew that quick treatment is usually effective. The other kids were a bit worried, but I explained that their brother would be just fine in the morning, which he is. I put them all to bed, because the doctor in the ER kept getting sidetracked by ambulances coming in, so Mister fell asleep waiting to be released. I guess being pumped full of Benadryl probably helped with that!

I was proud of Hubby for his calm efficiency all night, and really pleased with the quickness of the ER staff. They got Mister right in, and got him on the IV right away. I'm grateful for our first aid training, so we knew what was happening, and grateful for modern medicine, that turned a life-threatening allergy into a minor incident. 

From now on Mister will have an epi pen to carry, in case of future reactions.

As a friend commented to me, "Never a dull moment with your crew, is there?" 




Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Migraine Art

If you do a Google image search for Migraine Art, you'll get some interesting and disturbing results. Laying here in the dark in my bed with my head splitting apart, I was wondering how I'd represent a migraine visually. Since I'm not a very visual person, it sounded daunting, but I thought it might be interesting to see how others have done it. 

First, there's sheer pain. For some reason, the bright colors and repeating irregular lines seemed to represent perfectly the chaos of life being overshadowed by pure agony. 

Many artists captured the odd, one-sided effect. 

Of course, there's the ubiquitous word-cloud. 

Make. Go. Away. 


Probably my favorite were the really practical ones. People with lists of verboten trigger foods, forbidden activities (like wearing glasses, in my case), green at the gills, either holed up in a dark room in bed (as I am now) or still trying to function and take care of the chores and family (which I plan to do shortly).

If I were to create my own piece of art trying to represent a migraine, I think the result would be something like this next piece, but maybe without the smile. It's more subtle, which misrepresents the intensity of the pain, but the accuracy of the placement of the red color, as the pain fills the eye socket, washes up the forehead, and trickles down into the jaw, neck, shoulder and eventually causing tension pretty much everywhere is perfect. 

I didn't bother to copy the ones representing visual distortion, auras, over sensitive hearing and smell, light sensitivity, vises and pressure, etc, etc. Those are there, of course, but I merely picked the ones that resonated, and then got bored. In a way, the lack of focus or memory makes its own statement. 

(Obviously, copyright belongs to various artists, and you can do the Google search yourself and track each one down if you so desire.)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Reflections Upon The Occasion of a Summer Picnic

See this laughing person in a pink princess dress with her face painted like a tiger?

Eighteen months ago I stepped off an airplane into crisp snow with her in my arms, asleep. Eighteen months have been spent bonding, learning a new language, eating new foods, having surgeries, growing her hair out, learning to zip a zipper, watching Sesame Street, jumping on the trampoline, learning to swim, and best of all, discovering that she has a family. Forever. 

Do you know why eighteen months are important? According to our training, for every two months of institutional care, one month needs to be spent healing, bonding, and getting as much love and consistent met needs as possible. Abi entered care (as far as we know) at age 8 months. She came home to our family at 45 months of age. So she spent 37 months in care, or more than three years. That makes eighteen months the magic milestone. The day we've been looking toward. To reach today, and then look forward into tomorrow. 

During that 37 months, she was uprooted twice to move to a different orphanage, usually due to lack of funding. She had already lost her mother at birth, and then her grandmother, who had been her primary care giver at age 8 months. She did not know what a family was. She didn't know how to have a mom. She didn't understand the word "forever." All she knew was how to survive. She knew how to be charming so that the next adult who took her with them would be kind to her. 

Now she's learned to love, learned to begin to trust. She may always struggle to trust, to attach completely, but that's okay. Even healing leaves some scars. 

Last year at the Summer Picnic, she couldn't speak English, and didn't understand what was going on. Last year, we were hurtling like an express train toward the next surgery, the one in Portland. Last year, I had to literally hold her hand lest she find some friendly middle-aged women and try to convince the poor ladies to take her home with them. By the end of the afternoon I was absolutely exhausted from the tension. 

This year, she has friends that she loves, and she ran around confidently with the other kids. This year, she bombed me with a water balloon. 

This year, she played in the creek while I painted kids' faces. 

This year, Bean was big enough to play without me worrying that he'd drown in the creek. Oh, what fun he had this year!!! He ran and shouted and got absolutely filthy dirty and had a marvelous time. 

Curly, in spite of a nosebleed, also had a ball. She built sand castles, enjoyed her friends, threw herself into the water balloon fight heart and soul, and very nearly missed dinner. 

Mister, reluctant to smile for the camera due to just having been pegged on the right ear with a water balloon, still had a wonderful time.  He finished his evening by finding a "dirt slide" and coming home with half the hillside on his clothes. 

Hubby rotated around the park, keeping a quiet eye on each kid, and chatting with friends as the opportunity arose. He and I both agreed that having Bean be a year older and Abi a year closer to us took much of the strain off. 

Meanwhile, I painted horses...

And dragons...

And horses...

And lions...


And horses...

And giraffes...

And horses...

And a purple cat...

And more horses. 

And every single child, upon seeing the picture of themselves with their face painted smiled a huge smile. Made my day. 

Now, at the end of the day, as I reflect back on the last eighteen months, I'm blown away by how far we've come, at the new love that has grown where it seemed no love could ever grow. I'm excited now to enter the years ahead, rather than fearing or dreading them. I'm thankful, most of all. Thankful for my beautiful children and my incredible Hubby. 

Life is good.