Wednesday, June 9, 2010

my little chatterbox

Several days ago, Ahna and I were having quite a conversation on the back porch.  When I climbed up on a chair to snap her photo, she was utterly concerned.

Mama, get off that chair. We're not supposed to stand on chairs, Mama.

Mama, what are you doing up in that chair?

We're not 'posed to stand in chairs, Mama, because we will fall.
Won't we, Mama?

But grown-ups can stand in chairs, 'cause they might not fall, right Mama?
And I can't stand in chairs, either, can I, Mama? Cause I will fall, too.
And I would hurt myself, wouldn't I, Mama?

But you should get down from the chair, Mama.
(still some residual redness and swelling in her eyes, from the surgery) 

Good thing she's not bossy.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

surgery day in photos

 She has certainly had some rough moments, but Ahna has done so well with her eye surgery recovery.  The first day was no fun at all for her.  She received so much sedative that she slept fitfully all day and night, and was very unhappy and in pain when she was awake.

The swelling and redness have actually been much less than we had expected.  Today was the first morning she awoke, though, and actually opened her eyes.  (4th post-op day)  She usually spends the first couple of hours with her eyes closed, through breakfast and whatever else she's doing.  She's just afraid of how they'll feel, so she leaves them at rest.  It's kinda funny, actually, to see how well she has adjusted to moving around without being able to see.  

The worst part of the whole experience has been putting in antibiotic eye drops and steroid ointment.  Absolutely EXCRUTIATING.  

On the way to the hospital, sparkly shoes ON. The only shoes the girl wants on her feet. 

Before surgery, getting vital signs, etc.  She did so great with all the nurses and multiple hospital staff we had to deal with.  

Chillin' with Daddy....... and doing gymnastics.

Then a really rough Recovery Room experience, but finally she was asleep on Daddy.  He had been holding her standing up, and was finally able to ease down onto the bed.  Can anyone tell she's a Daddy's Girl??
from IPhone:
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And on the way home, with her cool shades on.  
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Later that night.  I think that was Dora on the computer.  
She was pitiful.

But then the next day?  Ready by the afternoon, to spash in a makeshift "pool" while Daddy was washing cars.  She went out in sunglasses, but tossed them aside after a while.
And yes, I stressed out when I saw this picture and realized that she was holding the water hose and COULD'VE sprayed her face and eyes with that very strong current.  And that would've been BAD.
But she didn't.

See ya later!!

Friday, May 28, 2010

emergence delirium

This is a continuation of earlier posts on Ahna's eye surgery. It will be short. We are home and she is awake and needy and quite uncomfortable.

Her surgery went well, we spoke with her opthamologist, then were taken pretty quickly back to the recovery room.  She woke earlier than expected, and to put it mildly, was absolutely beside herself.  The nurse deemed her as a case of emergence delirium:  

"Emergence delirium is defined as a dissociated state of consciousness in which the child is inconsolable, irritable, uncompromising or uncooperative, typically thrashing, crying, moaning, or incoherent. Additionally, paranoid ideation has been observed in combination with these emergence behaviors. Characteristically, these children do not recognize or identify familiar and known objects or people. Parents who witness this state claim the behavior is unusual and uncustomary for the child. Although generally self limiting (5-15 min) ED can be severe and may result in physical harm to the child and particularly the site of surgery." (from a pediatric anesthesiology website)

They thought we might help calm her.  They were wrong.  When we got to her, there were FOUR grown women trying to manage her, keep her safe, keep her IV in and her eyes protected.  Her screams were louder than loud, and as forceful as her kicking legs and flailing arms.  Poor baby.  Poor baby.  Her nurse had given her "two pretty big doses of Fentanyl," without effect so far.  After a few more minutes and me handing her off to Daddy, who was bigger and stronger, AND after one more dose of Fentanyl, she did drift off to sleep.  Body jerking from the crying, she slowly relaxed and gave in to the sedative effects of the drug.  And Daddy didn't let go.  He held her until she woke again, probably an hour later, this time in a much different way. 

Juice in and IV out, we left the hospital less than 5 hours after arriving there.  

She has drifted off to sleep now.  Her eyes are a little swollen and extremely teary and glassy-looking, and her entire face looks generally puffy from the IV fluid.  She is uncomfortable and mostly cries when she is awake so far.  :-(  I don't expect her to be awake for long periods at all today, since they had to give her so much Fentanyl earlier. 

I took pictures throughout the day and plan to post those, but maybe tomorrow.  

We are glad to be on the "other side" of the surgery, for sure.

a late posting of earlier events

11:30 a.m. and she’s in surgery.
Was such a trooper this morning. Woke her just a few minutes before we needed to be on our way. Reminded her that it was Hospital Day and that God was going to help the doctor fix her eyes.
After gathering her full medical kit, a couple of lovies, her favorite blanket, and 2 stuffed animals (which she wanted nothing to do with once we arrived here) – we were on our way.

Buckled in her carseat, she asked, “May I please have a snack now, Mommy?”
“Well, we have to get to the hospital first. And then you’ll have a snack a little later, OK?”
“MAAMMAAA…. Hospitals don’t have snacks.”  (rolling her eyes at me like I didn't have a clue)

A few days ago, we were at the pediatrician’s office for her pre-op check, and it was the FIRST TIME EVER that she didn’t frantically scream throughout the entire process. She has been absolutely terrified of the doctor’s office and all things medical-related, since the day we took her from the orphanage worker.  Completely uncooperative, she wails her way through every event, every time we set foot in the door to the doctor’s office. It was such a relief, this past visit, to see that she was finally beginning to understand and cope and know that she was safe.

That being said, we were apprehensive about how she might tolerate all the events of today. Sensory overload happens quickly for Ahna. BUT – she has done beautifully, perfectly, performed like a champ. And we are so proud of her!

The final step of the morning, before surgery, was the "induction room."  Here, Ahna was to inhale her grape flavored "sleepy gas" through a mask, which of course would put her to sleep.  A kind man came to wheel her away, parents by her side.  It was a fun ride through the hallways of the hospital, back through a long corridor, and into the entrance to the operating room.  At this point, she had finally had enough, and decided that she did NOT want that mask near her, nor the 3 or 4 new faces around her.  Thankfully, her cries and yells and wide eyed fear lasted only about 60 seconds, and she was sound asleep.

Bill and I were led here, to the surgery waiting area, to WAIT.

More, a little later.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

her eyes


Not long after we brought Ahna home at 13 months of age, we noticed that her left eye wandered outward on occasion.  We usually noticed it in the morning, or when she had just woken from a nap, or when she was tired.  In the beginning months, she would simply close her eyes and the left eye would refocus.  

Her opthamologist diagnosed the exotropia, which is simply an outward deviation of one or both eyes, due to weakened muscles in the eye (the lateral rectus muscles).  We learned that this condition would eventually get worse, and were told that Ahna would need corrective eye surgery between the age of 3 and 4.  

We were told to monitor for these warning signals:
1.  The frequency of the eye wandering was increasing
2.  The duration of each instance was increasing
3.  The angle at which the eye wandered? increasing
4.  It would become more difficult for her to correct the 'wandering eye' by batting her eyes - it would remain unfocused despite her effort.
5.  The eye would begin to annoy her - she would notice the problem, rub her eyes, etc.

Initially, with exotropia, vision is unaffected.  However, if corrective surgery isn't done, the brain eventually "tells" the wandering eye that it doesn't have to "see" along with the "good eye."  So surgery is necessary to help assure binocular vision, whereas  the brain uses both eyes together as a single unit.   

It's hard to believe that our girl will be 3 years old next month, and it turns out her eye surgery is taking place tomorrow.  

Over the past two or three months, her eyes have gotten significantly worse.  Both eyes - the right decided to join in on the wandering, too.  Guess it felt left out.  :-)  It has become a regular, many-times-a-day occurrence, for a brother or a parent to be calling to Ahna, "Your eyes, your eyes...." as a signal to her that she's out of focus.  She'll close those eyes, rub them, open, close.  It'll take a few tries and a few seconds to correct them.  The exotropia is still most evident when she is tired or sick, or when she is looking at something  in the distance.  Also, when we're out and about and she's in her carseat looking out the window, most usually when I glance back at her through the rearview mirror, her eyes are out of focus.

So it is time.  We feel extremely blessed to have an excellent pediatric opthamologist performing her surgery.  He, in fact, has done over 12,000 such procedures.  

I've decided to blog my way through Ahna's surgery and recovery for a few reasons:  because I'm obviously not blogging about anything else; because maybe it can help inform another family who may be going through the same thing, someday; and because our family in other states might want to follow along.

We leave for the hospital around 8:30 a.m. Hopefully, our baby girl will sleep in a bit, since she can have nothing to eat or drink when she wakes.

Her surgery is at 10:30.  More tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

seth's gift

Ahna at 16 months.

She'd been home with us for less than 3 months when we did the photo shoot in our back yard, in October 2008.  Then a couple of months after that, I received this painting as a Christmas gift from our oldest son, Seth. 

Needless to say, I was undone.  I had had surgery just a few weeks before, and was still physically weak and emotionally adjusting, anyway.  I bawled like a baby to see our beautiful girl on that canvas, painted by her big brother.

Such a light we were beginning to see, in those eyes!  And Seth's painting displays it so perfectly. At least to me.  He is not pleased with this particular painting anymore - something about tones and values and depth.  I suppose he has matured as an artist, and sees qualities my eyes cannot.  I only know that I wouldn't have him change a single thing about the painting of his sister.  

His gift will always be one of my greatest treasures.  

Our high school senior artist-son is on his way out our door, preparing for the great big world that has spread itself before him.  (I typed that, then sat here and stared at the words of that sentence for 20 minutes.)

Do all parents of high school seniors ask, "HOW IN THE WORLD CAN IT BE??"  Inwardly, I am screaming it.

My brain is abuzz with a million thoughts constantly colliding.  

And with that, I will close this post.

Monday, March 15, 2010

school at home

I homeschool our 6th grader.  
Most days we are uber-organized and have hours and hours of uninterruped class-time.
Just kidding.
We do have 2-yr. old sister to "teach," as well.  What brother is doing, she also must do, in some form or fashion.  During school, toys mean very little, her play kitchen stands alone, and she can hardly pull herself away from the "classroom" for a moment.

Having those structured hours is very important, though.  We function much more effectively when our days are orderly and when an hourly schedule is maintained.

However, many of our school days feel chaotic and anything BUT orderly.  
Then, especially, my inadequacies shine like headlights at night that come speeding toward you. 
The headlights on "bright" that the driver forgot to dim. 

Algebraic expressions.  Chemical compounds.  Latin vocabulary words.  I want them all to go away, be someone else's responsibility to teach.  
I become easily convinced that I am "messin' up my son." 
The two of us butt heads, become exasperated with one another.  While trying to encourage him to control his attitude, I find that I am in stark need of an adjustment in my own demeanor.  A broken-down car in need of a tow-truck-trip to the mechanic.

I've been stretched way out of my comfort zone.  
But if I was not, I would not learn how to be pliable.

I've come face-to-face with areas in my own life that need to be dealt with.  
But if I was not, I would not learn how to turn and face the Father.

I've been on an uncommon and often unpopular journey.  
But if I was not, I would have a lesser awareness of what it means to follow God's path.

I homeschool Eli.  And he teaches me.

2 Peter 1:3  "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

the visit

She arrived with the dawn, being ushered in even as we slept.  It had been long months since we had been graced by her beauty, her loveliness.

She stayed long enough to tickle us with her warmth. Melodies rose from her lips through soft and gentle breezes.  The trees themselves, standing bare of leaves, seemed to stretch yet taller, reaching their hungry limbs ever higher, begging her to stay.

Like dominoes, her aura spread from one place to the next.  The whole earth appeared to be more alive.  Children's laughter could be heard at every turn.  Dogs barked in unison and squirrels clamored about playfully as if they, too, were caught up in the sheer excitement surrounding her appearance.

The sky shone brighter and bluer, and the fluffy, white clouds  waltzed silently about on their dance floor.  Mysterious and beautiful shadows played on the ground, the water, as her light beamed down from above.  Remnants of giant snowmen and giant-er snow piles shrank and melted down to nothing.  

She was such a tease.

For, even while we were still reveling in her glory, she stole quietly away, leaving almost no traces that she had even been here.

Farewell for now, Spring. Please come back soon, to stay.

Friday, March 5, 2010

a little silly

Just "poking
my Ahna's head in here" to say that I'm working on being back, regularly!  I am certainly as slow. as. molasses. 

In the meantime, (not that anyone is actually waiting to see more from me): have a happy, silly weekend!!  Or at least a relaxing one!

P.S. Do you download photos from a computer folder straight to your blog?  Or use Flickr or...  I am trying to figure out the most time-efficient method.  

Monday, March 1, 2010


Or not.

What I found in Ahna's room INSTEAD of a napping girl, today:





Ummm... clearly, it's time for a big-girl bed.  

(Did I mention that one of her favorite books is Five Little Monkies Jumping on the Bed?)

Thursday, February 25, 2010


In so many ways, she says, "I can do it! Don't you limit me!"  
This day, she was after a cookie.  


She finds a way to reach her goal.  Scoots a bar-stool over, then...


Ah, she did it.


Victory is sweet.


Today a cookie.
Tomorrow, the world. :-)

She causes me to consider: What holds me back? When am I silent when I need to speak? When do I stay still when I need to DO something?

What limits me?

What limits you?

Monday, February 22, 2010

wooden blocks and monopoly games

I came up to my bedroom a while ago. Scattered on our bed: many wooden blocks and beads, along with the Very Hungry Caterpillar card game. A reminder that early this morning, Ahna wanted to play with Mama, rather than go back to sleep. So we drank our milk and coffee and talked about our nighttime dreams. She dreamt "About Eli (E-i)", as she declares any time she is asked about what happens in her sleep-thoughts. And she remarked that he was playing the piano. That part of her sleep memory was different this time. He is usually "doing nuffin."

Left untouched at my bedside: the Bible study I had meant to work on, the Yancey book on prayer that I am reading.

Fast forward to our evening. Eli (12) has had some privileges removed for the night. We end up playing a game of Monopoly, or at least we play MOST of the game. We will have to finish in the morning. (does that game ever end??) I think it turns out to be more enjoyable to him than watching T.V. or playing video games might've been. Or maybe I just hope that is the case. We listen to music, we listen to Ahna play and talk and talk some more in her crib before finally going to sleep. (Jacob: in bed already. Bill & Seth: in Sarasota for that college visit)

Left untouched all over the house: various piles that I had meant to tend to; clothes that didn't get put away; school planning that was intended for the evening...... more housework than I care to mention. 
(How DO you all keep up?)

Tonight, though, I am mindful and thankful for all the things left UNDONE today. Because most usually, I am not OK with all that I think I don't accomplish. My tendency is to be frustrated and aggravated and exhausted by even the thought of all that I need to be doing but don't do. And in the process I begin to feel UNDONE. I begin to wonder why I am the only girl in the world who can't handle or keep up with her "stuff."  I too easily forget that every simple and fun moment that I can can grab with one of my children, is oh-so fleeting.  

So it's a good place to be right now, sitting here writing. Knowing that the time spent talking quietly with Ahna about dreams in the dimness of early morning; laughing with Eli over a Monopoly game this evening: these were TRULY the things that mattered today.

The rest of it? Well, it will all be here tomorrow, won't it?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

on letting go

(Written a few weeks ago):

A toddler girl growing faster than I can keep up with. A senior in high school, who is in Sarasota, Florida with Dad, checking out an Art Institute he's interested in attending. And two more boys in between: the sophomore and the sixth grader.

Earlier today, I was (mentally) back in Knoxville, TN, on our oldest son's  1st day of 1st grade. Both his dad and I took him right to that classroom doorway, of course, on that exciting morning in August, so many years ago. After navigating through the crazy 1st-day-of school traffic that we didn't quite expect, then finally finding a parking place, we raced through the school just as the final bell was ringing, Dad holding our 1st grader's hand, me toting 2 and 1/2 year old brother on my hip.

The tall and slender and lovely Mrs. Smith met us at the door. I naively expected to be invited into the classroom for a few moments to see my big boy off, to see what his first day of school "looked like."  But NO. Mrs. Smith was not at the door to welcome US, but only the 1st grader himself. She had actually only moved toward the door to CLOSE it, of all things, since the bell had just rung. With a smile on her face, she briskly takes OUR boy (MY BOY) by the hand, looks HIM in the eye and welcomes him sweetly, then instructs him to TELL MOM AND DAD GOODBYE. Then she looks at us herself, smiling mockingly, and says, "Bye, Mom and Dad!"  OK, she was not really smiling mockingly.

I felt so jilted, as that door closed (so rudely) in my face.

The lump in my throat was so ginormous that I could barely swallow.  I drove us home, after dropping Dad off at work.  And I cried the whole way.  I remember so vividly walking into that house, going straight to my bedroom and FLINGING myself on the bed, sobbing.  Loudly.  Brother saying, "What's wrong, Mommy?"

My baby. In 1st grade.  How did it happen?

I also remember laying there sobbing and praying and then feeling like the Lord whispered to my heart, (in a very firm tone): "Are you entrusting your child to Mrs. Smith and everyone else at that school? Or are you entrusting him to ME?"  It sounded so loud to me. It boomed in my spirit.

It sounds almost silly now, but I believe that was my first real glimse of what it means to "let go" of my children.  And since that day? Boy oh boy, have I had to let go over and over and over and over.  Am still learning how to do that.  Will I always be learning how to do so?  I think so, yes.

And now the first grader will be graduating from high school and going away for a time, in a few short months.

And I ask myself again, "How did it happen?" How do the days, the weeks, the months, the years fly by so quickly?

Will I be fit and ready to "let go" when I really must? Have all the moments along the way prepared me? All those times when the stark reality has hit me hard that he is not really mine, anyway? That none of our kids are? 

I am reminded of that fact, when one of our teenagers (we have 2, almost 3) is out with friends, and I know he might not be making the same decisions as I would, if I was in his shoes. (or he might.)  I must let go.
I am reminded, when their grades in school don't quite measure up to MY expectations. I must let go.
I am reminded, when it's late at night and all is quiet in the house, and the teenagers aren't yet inside the safety of our home.  They aren't mine.  I must let go.

I try to hold on in so many ways - often in the name of just "influencing" them or "guiding" them.  It is hard. So hard, at times.

So I'll keep pressing forward, learning how to release them moment by moment, day by day.  I'll keep getting frustrated, I am certain, that I seem to take two steps forward in the process, one step back.  Like Ahna and potty-training.

Eventually, though, maybe I'll be a big girl, fully trained, with all the freedoms that come with knowing my boys - and my girl - are much better off in God's hands, and not my own.
Just like Ahna is much better off without the hindrance of those diapers.

And for the record: our soon-to-be high school graduate? He had a WONDERFUL year in first grade, and I ended up adoring his teacher, Mrs. Smith.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

here i am again

It's the name of a song. (the title of my blog-post)

"Here I am. Here we are. The story's gettin' old."

Who knew? As I sat down here to try my hand at posting AGAIN, the phrase just came to mind. So I did what most of us do: I googled it.

And in fact, it is a song. And it's a Hello - I'm Trying This Once More, from me.

"There is no failure except in no longer trying." An American philosopher named somebody Hubbard said that.

So I will try.

I'll fight the urge to be embarrassed that I am HERE yet again, to blog-tease. Only to potentially disappear again.

I will try.

A few of you will pop in.

Grandparents, aunts, cousins, etc. will love the chance to see the pictures I post, since many months and many more miles separate us.

So for starters? A few pictures of Ahna catching some evening playtime in the snow with Daddy. It was coooold, but she didn't mind a bit. She has been waking most mornings and saying, "It's snowy again."
She loves it.....

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Daddy started tossing her into the snow! (very gently)
Mama was standing at the door saying, "DON'T THROW HER IN THE SNOW!!"
Ahna was lovin' it.
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Until she got stuck.
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Still not quite over getting stuck. And not liking the idea that it was time to come in.

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