Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Story Behind the Story

Never a dull moment around here, truly. Today we were scheduled to be interviewed for a newspaper article. The reporter, who also happens to be a friend of mine, was exactly on time and we promptly sat down so she could start on the very long story of our little family.

In the beginning, we were going to only be part of an article on international adoption, but when the editor saw our family photo, well... Let's just say he changed his mind. We are hoping now that it doesn't have to become a series in order to get everything in! ;-)

Since Kathryn was going to work early, we wanted her to have the opportunity to be interviewed first, but Yvonne first wanted to get "a bit" of background information. About the time I was telling her what it was like to adopt Vanya and Irina, Anna came upstairs with a panicked look on her face (very unusual for Anna). I asked her what was wrong and she told me that something was very wrong with Charlie. She said he was lying down and couldn't move his legs and or get up or anything. Having been through numerous "crises" that weren't, I was calmly trying to determine the seriousness of this particular situation. A small voice from across the room (Yvonne) said, "Uh, maybe we should go check on him." I agreed and we all began to make our way downstairs. On the way down, Yvonne asked, "Should we call 911?!!" It then occurred to me that she did not realize that Charlie was our Black Lab!! She thought he was one of our kids! Oh my. I hurriedly reassured her that Charlie was a dog and not a boy, but we continued to rush downstairs to check on him.

By this time, Trey had informed us that Charlie had stopped breathing, although once we got there he was conscious and breathing. He was indeed having serious problems, though, so I tried to comfort him while determining what was going on. Kathryn had heard a loud noise in the garage, where Charlie was, and when she opened the door he came barreling into the hallway, causing her to hurt her hand on the door. He was in a state of panic at that point from whatever was going on, and fell down on the floor without being able to move.

We decided that Charlie needed to go to the vet right away so I called Tessa at work to tell her we were on the way (she works at an animal hospital). Yvonne climbed in the van with Charlie, Trey, Anna, and I and we made our way to the animal hospital. I was able to fill in a few more details along the way, although I am not sure how much sense I made.

Charlie was doing somewhat better by this time, although he was still quite dazed. Tessa met us and we were taken into an examination room to wait for the vet to examine Charlie. Yvonne got a chance to interview Tessa this way, as she would not have even spoken to her otherwise since Tessa was to be at work while the interview was taking place. Sitting in the examination room, I was able to fill in the details through the end of Jennifer, Sergei, and Zhenya's adoption before the doctor came in to talk to us.

In the end, and $152 later (including Tessa's employee discount), it was determined that Charlie must have had a seizure of some kind. We were informed of the nature of seizures and what to do if it happened again. They will still run various blood tests to rule out other illnesses, but we can hope that this will be an isolated incident.

Once back at home, the interview finally got into full swing, with Bob and more of the kids being involved. Honestly, if Yvonne manages to put her notes together into an accurate and newsworthy article, she will be a miracle worker!

I suppose Yvonne at least got to see how our family does work together in a crisis. It has been our prayer from the beginning that this would be a God honoring article and I am certain that He worked things so that she could witness that cooperation between siblings.

She commented a couple of times that this would be an interview that she would not soon forget and, at least once in there, I heard the words that have become our family mantra, "But I've never done it this way before!!" No, friend, neither have we. Each day is a new beginning!

Edited to add:
I get it now. Once again, God's plan was different from mine and His was perfect. I had things all worked out in my mind regarding how I would tell Yvonne "our story". There were certain areas I wanted to emphasize and comments I wanted to make. I had thought to show her Sergei's photos, Tessa's published poem, print off a copy of our 2001 adoption story, etc... But that was not how it was to happen. Rather than hearing me blabber the whole time, she needed to see our family at work. Forgive me, Lord, for thinking I had everything under perfect control! And, thank you for sparing our dear, sweet Charlie.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Tessa is Published!

Tessa is officially a published author, now! If you go to you will actually see her name listed among the authors of the new issue of _The Sword Review_. She will be receiving a contributor's copy, but the rest of us will have to pay to read her work. ;-) OK, well, I admit that I DID read it as part of her school work, so I guess that is not completely true.

Hopefully this will be only the first of many writings she has published over the coming years.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

End of an Era

Yesterday I sold our big blue van. As we first thought about selling it, I felt like I would be losing a friend. I so enjoyed the days when we would all pile into that van and go somewhere together as a family. We would sometimes take day trips to a zoo or go to the nature trail on Green Mountain. Having everyone together like that, safe and secure, was so sweet to me. I knew the day would soon come when they all started going their own ways.

Well, those days are here. It is rare that we all go one place together anymore. No one has recently asked us if we are a school group on a field trip. I have to admit that I enjoyed being able to respond to some of the questions we got when we were out together, too. It was like a game to us, coming up with fun replies to those questions.

The blue van now belongs to a small church just down the road. We can see it every time we drive by. Our lives are changing and I must accept that. I love seeing the young adults that our children are growing into and I will treasure the memories of the fun times we had in that van.

I do have to admit that I am enjoying being able to pull into a regular sized parking space these days, though, in our mini van. I don't even have to worry about pulling out from the front so that I won't run over someone! There ARE advantages to driving smaller vehicles, too. ;-)

Monday, March 05, 2007

Words of Wisdom

I recieved an email from a friend regarding the news of my upcoming surgery. Her response was the most wonderful one I have gotten yet and I would like to share it with everyone in the world:

"My dear sweet friend...what NEWS! Deep Brain Stimulation. Where do I sign up?

I need this! My brain is asleep and cannot comprehend the love of God for me...that He died, so I might live. That daily he gives Grace to live that day and get over all the days that were previous to this one. I cannot comprehend what it ment to send His Son here, and fiddle around with us, to get us on the right path. Maybe Deep Brain Stimulation would wake a sleeping sluggish soul..."

I simply cannot add to that. To God be the glory, great things He has done!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Committee's Decision

I finally heard from the surgery nurse today and she said the committee had indeed recommended me as a good candidate for the DBS surgery. I am still chuckling over the neuropsych testing, though. Today she said, "You could not have had any more flying colors on your neuropsych test." Imagine that. A "crazy" mother of 11 wowing the doctors on a neuropsych test! Sorry folks, but that is hilarious. I have spent so much time having doctors tell me I was just "stressed and depressed," and now that I finally get a neuropsych test done they are all shaking their heads over it in amazement. I think it was all of that "stressful" homeschooling that helped me ace their testing so well, actually. ;-)

I did ask some questions that were specific to UAB and this particular surgery, for us to consider over the weekend. The neurosurgeon who does this type of surgery has been doing it since 1997 and he currently does 3-4 unilateral surgeries per week, for Parkinson's and Essential Tremor. The Dystonia surgery is a bilateral one, however. They have actually only done four other dystonia patients, but have had good results in them all.

I had requested that the surgery be after Jennifer and Micah's wedding, so they were able to accomodate that...barely. If we choose to accept the date, they have it scheduled for April 18, which is four days after the wedding. We will think about this over the weekend and call them with our decision on Monday.

The risk of complications with this surgery is quite low - only about 1% - and the potential for improvement is around 50% - 75%, with some dystonia patients reporting up to a 90% improvement. Success is not guaranteed and perhaps the greatest risk is having the surgery and it not changing things at all, though.

Thankfully, my hope remains in the Lord and not the doctors. I trust Him for guidance and wisdom as we continue to pray over this decision. At this point it looks like we will decide to go forward with the surgery. Please pray with us that God will be glorified throughout the entire process, if we do make this decision in favor of the surgery.

The Vehicle Shuffle

Our normally busy life has gone on overload the past few days/couple of weeks. In addition to the wedding and surgery stuff, we have been doing a vehicle shuffle. It is kind of like musical chairs, but with vehicles rather than chairs. Since we have two large vehicles that we are paying teenage driver rates on but none of our teenagers could drive them comfortably, we decided to make some changes. The first thing we did was buy a small car for the girls to drive - a Dodge Neon (wow, that looks so easy when I write it down, but the hunting, researching, and calling was a huge chore). They love it and so does Zhenya. (He actually wants to buy it from us.)

Then, we decided to put our large truck up for sale, but waited until the end of Ollie's two week jury duty stint to place it on the lot. The day I parked it, I also found a good deal on a mini van, which is what we were planning on replacing the truck with. We bought it last weekend and it has very quickly become MY favorite! My brother is considering buying our large, 15 passenger van, if his church is interested in buying it from him.

Today we sold the truck. Since the guy we bought the mini van from has another one he wants to sell, I called him to let him know we were interested in it (to replace the big van). Are you keeping up? I hope so, because I am lost. I will have to go out to the driveway to see what vehicles we actually end up with tomorrow.

Oh, and Sergei had an accident last night. He was OK, but his car was not. We thought it might have been totaled, but our cousin who also happens to be a mechanic says he can get it running again for around $500. Add that to a $200 towing and storage fee and Sergei is learning to not follow cars so closely on dark rainy nights.

And we are signing up for AAA.