Monday, March 30, 2009

John Carter

Do you think of ER when I say that? :) I do.

But, Joel is gone. I hate it when he's gone. He was on the phone all morning with someone that owns a plane that they work on. They worked on it last week actually and got it all fixed up. This morning something else on it was acting up. So, Joel and a couple of other guys are flying the 2 hour flight up to where he lives to work on the plane.

The guy who owns the plane is John Cain Carter, a Texan conservationist who lives here now. Joel has mentioned him before. As he was walking out the door around noon, he said something about how I could probably google him and find something about him.

I have to say that when I hear the term 'conservationist' I don't think completely good thoughts. :) I don't think bad thoughts, but some who label themselves that way just have alot of passion, but not a lot of good answers about the right way to go about doing that conserving?

Well, I googled. I found a few things. I must say...interesting!! And I also must say...I like his style.

This is a really cool article I found. On the last page, we are very near to Goiania on that map, just to give you a visual of where Joel flew. I can't wait to hear about his trip.

Also, hello (!)...this is another thing I found. Pretty cool.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

For a time, I had another blog called Perspective. It was really because I was losing mine...I needed it for that time. I only did 5 posts on that blog, but it served its purpose. I'm now deleting that blog. So, I wanted to add these 5 posts to this blog so they are not lost forever. :) Here is one of them.

Wow. Can you imagine having a child born without limbs? Can you imagine being that child? This is so incredible. Check out this video and then check out his website here...and read Nick's story. Amazing. God can do so much with your matter who you are and what your circumstances. He wants to do so much...that's the whole point of this life, isn't it?

Saturday Morning Tidbits

Oh, just a few thoughts running around in my head. And some things that I haven't said or updated you on (in no particular order at all)...

-We're glad to be back here in Brazil. Several people have asked and yes, we are glad. I don't know that I'll ever actually prefer Brazil over good ole home. But, we definitely feel that we are supposed to be here for right now and are very glad to be here, doing what we know that God has for us. That's not to say that it's not really tough sometimes, but the peace is there and we know that we are supposed to be here.

-Customer service is basically non-existent in Brazil...but this little blip actually deserves a whole post, so more on this later. Just know it sucks.

-Please be praying for little Stellan and little Samuel too now that I think about it. The blogosphere is such an interesting thing. You learn things about people that you never would have known in a million years without it. I would've never 'run into' these women and their little ones (or all the other countless people on blogs that I follow, at least for a time) without blogland. Stellan's story is sure to read the whole thing (link on sidebar of their blog). I'm so very thankful to have my little ones, whole and healthy and in my arms.

-I am back at the losing weight thing. I had lost about 19 pounds before we went to the states. Guess how much I gained while there? 19 pounds!! Hilarious. I enjoyed every single ounce I must say. But, I'm back to blogging on my other blog about can click here to read (and as usual, link always on the sidebar over there).

-I also started another blog a while back (while in the states) about perspective. I haven't posted on it since we got back to Brazil, but just ran across something that I had to put on there. So, it is now updated too (click here to read) and will be updated more now that things are a bit more calm around here (again, link always on sidebar).

-Speaking of that, the house is coming together nicely. Yes, I will post pictures someday (although I'm sure you've seen glimpses in the pictures/videos already). We still have lots of things that just don't have a place yet. Some things we will just have to find a place for, some things we need to actually acquire some furniture in order to have a place for them. Our walls are completely undecorated (except for some things that we just hung on the nails already in the walls just to unpack them, but none of those things are actually going to stay in those spots), so it definitely still doesn't look like things are coming together exactly, but we're getting there. It's difficult because really the only day we have to do things as far as going places to get some of the things we need is Saturday...and everything closes by noon on Saturdays. Ludicrous. It's just not feasible to do it during the week with just one vehicle and my limited Portuguese and homeschooling, etc. It's also just very hard in general to find the places where you can go in order to get the things you need. Like I've said before...oh how I miss one-stop shopping. A friend of mine here was talking recently about how it was such an ordeal to get just some very simple curtains. Do not take your Bed, Bath, and Beyond for granted folks (or Wal-Mart or Target, etc.)! Anyway...

-The kids are just growing up way too fast. It's crazy. I have several posts about all of that and lots of pictures. Hopefully in time I'll get to putting them all up.

-I still haven't started back to Portuguese classes. I will be starting soon, but Cass is still nursing at bedtime and I just want to be here for that...and not be distracted from her right now. It won't last much longer and I want to soak it up while that's still going on...not going to miss a big thing like that. Portuguese class can wait until that is over...because it will be over all too soon.

-We are loving homeschooling. It is so much fun to spend that time with them (my kids). We are loving our curriculums (curriculi?...whatever). If you'll remember, Grady started doing the Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons thing...he is now sounding out small words. So fun. He's pretty excited about it. And they just LOVE it when they really start to 'get' something, for example, in their new Math-U-See curriculum. And, of course, the Sonlight books are definitely a favorite...and their 13 Bible Verses that they have committed to memory with Sonlight...they love to rattle those off. Fun.

-I love crockpots. Most of the meals I make now are in the crockpot. Go here for some GREAT recipes!

-It cracked me up how so many people had asked over the past few months about that 'Part 2' that I posted a few days back. But then I got only 1 measly comment. Hilarious. Not that I need or want comments about that, but it just surprised me. I thought more people would weigh in their opinions/thoughts...since that was what happened before. Maybe it is because I wrote it in a way that displayed how we had reached a final decision (answer from God)...maybe that's the difference...before we had no answer. Anyway, that just entertained me. :) Anyone got any thoughts they want to share...feel free.

-Grady's jaw has been ruled to be just lymphatic issues...infection/inflammation. So, we are just watching it. The doctor here said we'd put warm compresses on it, give him an anti-inflammatory, and just watch it. It is not noticeable at all by sight and only a little by feeling...and Grady himself hasn't mentioned anything about it at all the whole time we've been back in Brazil. I just feel his jaw every now and then to see if it's gone. We haven't yet even given him the anti-inflammatory or done the warm compresses. But there is a peace there for sure...knowing that it's nothing more and nothing serious. And I just felt of it as I was typing this paragraph...nothing there (first time since he had the fat cheek syndrome in the first place). I think we're in the clear. Thanks so much for your continued prayers and concern for us. We really do SO appreciate it.

-I never wrote about this, but while we were in the states, we had our first bouts with 'sickness.' We are not run-to-the-doctor type of people. If we have colds, we just let them take their course. We don't even take cold medicine. If we have fevers, we usually let them take their course (to kill whatever they are fighting in our body) too, but do eventually give Tylenol after a time or if the fever starts to climb too high. Well, our children had never had antibiotics...ever. They'd never had ear infections or anything that so many other children have often. So blessed are we. While we were in the states, Hadley (days away from being 4 at the time) and Eissa (almost 2 1/2) both came down with ear infections. Bummer. But, we were so happy that our kids had made it that long without any sicknesses/needs for antibiotics or other drugs. They each got to drink that really yummy pink stuff (Amoxicilin, right?...the highlight of their mornings and nights) and Eissa also had to take ear drops (she HATED it...but her eardrum had actually burst...funny too because she never complained of pain...we only suspected ear trouble because it was draining...Hadley had an earache a couple of days after Eissa's started draining, so we took them both in). Grady was fine until a week later when he had the jaw issue and ended up taking 2 antibiotics...his first ever...he's 5. I think that's pretty good. Thankfully, Cass dodged all the issues and continues to be such a super healthy little thing...tiny, but healthy. Thank You, Jesus, for our health!

-And speaking of health, boy do I have a story to tell you about vaccinations. But, that also deserves a whole blog post all its own.

Hmmm, I know there is more that I could ramble about. I'm sure I'll think of several more things after I post this that I could've written about, but forgot. Oh well.

Just wanted to get a few things/updates down. Hope you have a great weekend!

Fun times on the living room floor. :)
Daddy and Grady were working nearby with their tools. The girls were just relaxing/playing on their towel together. They stayed there for at least an hour, just playing together.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cass's 1st Birthday (Cont.)

Cass had a wonderful little birthday yesterday. We sang Happy Birthday to her all day long and then topped it off with a little party at the end of the day...complete with cupcakes after supper. Yum!

Here are a few pictures of the day, but there are many more on Facebook. Oh, and a couple of videos here at the end of this post. Enjoy!

Time for the family festivities.
Adoring her Daddy.
I don't know...maybe she doesn't particularly care for the birthday hat. What do you think?
Yes, I know...but, it was the only candle we had.
Cass loving the Birthday Song.
Shoving it in.
What a mess. Off to the shower.
And now a couple of me and my clean 1 year old before her bedtime.
Such a cutie.

Singing Happy Birthday to Cass.

Cass enjoying her birthday cupcake!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Happy 1st Birthday, Cass!!

"Who me?"

Yes, Cass is one year old today. I wrote a big update on all of us a few posts ago. Nothing much has changed with Cass, but if you missed that, go here to see her latest.

Oh, she is so sweet and so much fun. I just love having all these little ones around me all the time, watching the way they grow and change and seeing their personalities bloom. Love it.

Anyway, we will be having some family festivities this evening, so there will be more pictures to come, but just wanted to share a few from this morning.

We love you Cass and we're so glad that you came to us a year ago!!

These first two were taken before today, but awww... sweet!!
Isn't that just the cutest little profile you ever did see?
Getting some lovin' from the big bro and sisters on her very 1st birthday.

And now, the kids and me going into Cass's room first thing this morning. It gets a bit loud, crazy, and out of control at the end, but they were having fun.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Part 2 - Finally

I thought it was high time I finally got this posted for all of you (half a year or so after I first brought it up). :) I've been working on it for literally months, but can never finish it up, wrapping all my thoughts up in one neat little post. But, here's a shot at it.

First of all, let me take you back to this post and this post. And this post and this post. :)

So, we really fasted and prayed to reach an answer to all those questions in those posts. We've needed answers from God before, obviously. But, never with this urgency...and never concerning life. Kind of puts a different heftiness on it, you know?

We had definitely decided that we would not be using any kind of abortifacient birth control...that's a definite no-brainer. As research had shown, hmmm, that leaves barrier methods (male condom, female condom, cervical cap, diaphragm, spermacides...but, spermacides have been considered risky as far as miscarriages and birth defects although some studies suggest otherwise), withdrawal (I hate that word unless we are talking about money from a bank), and of course Natural Family Planning or Fertility Awareness Method or the Billings Method, etc. (natural ways to detect ovulation time in order to prevent pregnancy). Then of course there are the sterilization methods...also works as prevention obviously. Go here for a very readable overview with way more details (scroll down to the very bottom of the page).

In the list of abortifacient pregnancy prevention is the birth control pill (ALL birth control pills), Depo-Provera, birth control patch (OrthoEvra), the vaginal ring (Nuva-Ring), obviously those are out. Do any of you want to be killing off fertilized eggs (babies) in your thinned out uterus? I didn't think so.

So, what was our conclusion to all those questions that were whirling around in our heads?

We prayed and prayed and prayed and fasted and read books and fasted some more and then prayed...and prayed...and read some more get the idea.

God so sweetly spoke to us and gave us peace...the peace that you have when you know that you have an answer from God and this is it...that peace.

He so gently whispered in these last few months answers as it related to that we could understand HIS answers FOR US clearly. Here's a few of the ways He spoke to us...

James 1:27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

We are all called to care for the widows and orphans, but are we all called to adopt? No. We aren't. I personally cannot fathom why one would not want to adopt, not be excited about that possibility, not feel called to it. But, there are many in this world who are not, do not. We are called to care for them...not adopt them.

Matthew 28:19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,[b] baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

We are all called to spread the gospel, but are we all called to literally and physically 'go' into all the nations? No. We are all called to help in this endeavor, but there are many facets in which this can be accomplished. Some are the senders, some the intercessors, etc. Some live their lives without ever GOing on even a short-term mission trip...does it mean they disobeyed? What if they gave thousands and thousands of dollars for others to go? What if they were physically unable to go? There are several roles needed in order for missions to exist and this verse to be carried out. Only a portion are called to actually do the physical going.

What about all the 'children are a blessing' verses or 'be fruitful and multiply?' Children ARE a blessing...there is no denying that...ever. When something is a blessing, are we to get as many of that particular blessing as possible? And here is a very interesting read on the 2nd verse mentioned. It wasn't read by us while seeking God on this...only now did I read it. But, it really echoes in my spirit.

Psalm 127:4-5 Children born to a young man
are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.
How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!
He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.

So true that a quiver full is a blessed thing. But, literally speaking, actual quivers that hold arrows come in all different sizes. Some hold over a dozen. Some hold only a few.

And that brings us to the question of the hour...are WE to use man-made methods (or even NFP or FAM, etc.) to regulate the size of that quiver?

I cannot tell you why or how, I cannot offer up this answer for you in your family in your calling, but I do know that we got our answer. I know that, at least for this time right now (today, March 22, 2009), we know what we are to do.

Our big question going into this was is it one way for everyone? Does God want EVERYone to follow what we call the 'quiver-full' we wait for Him alone to open and close our wombs? If that is so, that would also mean that those struggling to have children should solely rely on God...not use any forms of fertility treatments (no medicines like Clomid, no IVFs, etc.). Maybe some believe that, but I personally know some really great people who happened to be born as a result of those very methods.

What God spoke to us is that everyone has to seek God about this concerning their individual families. We all have a calling concerning the size of our families and how we reach that size. If you are called to the 'quiver-full' way, God will provide all things needed (material, emotional, physical, logistical) and will bless you abundantly. If you are not called to that, obey that...He will provide all things needed and will bless you abundantly. He will be very specific and provide you with all the instruction needed to live out your life and your calling before Him, involving children and everything else.

It is not a matter of faith vs. lack of faith. It is not a matter of fear vs. no fear. It is not a matter of comfort vs. no comfort, or diligence vs. laziness. It is a matter of hearing God and obeying Him, period.

As you may already have wondered by now, esp. since my baby is about to be a year old and I'm not already pregnant (that has never happened before), we do feel that God's word to us on this is to use non-abortifacient birth 'control.' It feels good to know that you know that you know that you heard God about something and follow through in obedience to that. You have peace. What if your desires don't line up with what you feel God said? He brings peace in obedience. What if your husband, your authority, isn't on board with your desires...and what you as the 'more spiritual one' feel you are to do? Obey your husband. God will bring peace.

Seek Him. He will answer you, He will speak to you in ways that you can understand and know the answer without a shadow of a doubt, and He will bring peace.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Some of Sally's Words

(First, a quick Grady update: We still don't know anything conclusive as far as treatment for Grady...if there is to be any at all. The radiologist said the same thing that the other ultrasound showed...lymph nodes. We don't know. Grady feels fine, he just has a knot that gets smaller and then gets bigger again on his jaw. He never even notices it. So, we don't feel a huge urgency...therefore, we will go back to the ENT here either Monday or Tuesday to get the final word as far as she's concerned on what needs to be done from here. Thank you so much for you care, concern, and prayers. You guys are the best.)

This is something I read the other day by Sally Clarkson on her blog. Just thought it was good. I loved the phrase 'the home was the center of life' and just her whole point in saying that. Even if you (women, moms) must work (or even feel called to do so), this applies. Love how she made that clear. I just think it is so, so true. By the way...a little history: She and her family moved something like 17 times while her 4 children were growing up, some of those internationally, so she's done it all...she hasn't just lived in her comfy little colorado home that she speaks about all her life. I appreciate that about her just because I can personally relate more knowing that...maybe you can too. And now, Sally's words...enjoy!

It is so wonderful to be home and to sleep in my own bed and to be surrounded by familiar everything. I feel so blessed to have a home that feels like a haven. I also feel blessed, though, to have been able to meet so many wonderful women while on the road this season.

I have lots and lots of thoughts swirling around in my head that I will be sharing over the next weeks. One thing that has been at the forefront is a book I have been reading called "Culture Makers." First Clay read it and then Sarah and now me. Books tend to get passed a lot in our family. I love the concepts presented because it is so much a picture of motherhood. We are Culture Makers in our homes when we teach the truth about God and His word, but then it can't stop there. We must embody the truth in the way we behave, the way we set up our homes, the way we speak, the way we cook, the way we relate and so on.

So many treat God as though He is an idea or thought to be understood--that the thinking of God is superior to everything else. However, it is the incarnation of God--God living in our flesh--living and breathing through everything we do, that makes Him real to our children.

Once I was in the kitchen with one of my children when they were making a cup of tea and waiting for it to steep as we all moved toward our hour long reading time in our own areas (a habit I started when they were very small--the rule was that everyone had to stay relatively quiet for an hour--they could either read or take a nap!) But it is how I helped the kids develop the habit of reading--I would bribe them with rewards as they read through their basket of books-but that is for another article.)

Each one of us could take hot chocolate, tea, coffee or whatever to our reading time to make it a little more cozy. Anyway, this child said, "You know, a lot of our friends act like God makes them unhappy and sour."

What do you mean, I asked. "Well, they have a stern look on their faces and say no a lot and look like having fun is against the rules. But in our house, God is the one who made Chile peppers for fajitas and Celtic music to dance to and stars to sleep out under on our porch and holidays to celebrate and jokes to laugh at and backs to scratch and tickle--our God is big and fun and good and interesting and loving and true. I like that kind of a God better."

As I have been reading this book, I have realized again, how true my child's statement is. If you want to build a value system and cultural values into a person, you can't just tell them what they are supposed to do--you have to model it--live it out. In other words, you can't just say, "Jesus said the most important thing we are supposed to do is to love one another," But if you want it to sink in, you have to spend focussed time with the one you love and listen to them; give words of life and build them up; have fun, shared experiences with them; minister to them when they are sick or tired; appreciate their dreams; support them and forgive them when they have failed--then they do not just hear love as a word--but they experience love as a reality and capture in their own lives what it means to love.

Similarly, if we want to change our own culture (which is very liberal and post modern), we can't just say, "People should be married for life and love each other and raise children and avoid sexual immorality." We can't just tell people what is right and wrong, they must experience it in our lives and see it and know it in their mind and in their experience. We show people the reality of family and marriage by inviting them in our home for meals, by loving them actively and serving them as a family when they have a need; by hosting them on holidays and by sharing Christ with them in our words and with our cups of cold water.

I have thought long and hard about why we live in such a post modern culture and how people can so readily accept a liberal, non-traditional paradigm. I think, to a great degree, it is because paradigm of home is changed. There used to be a mom who cooks real meals and nurses her children and creates a life-giving atmosphere and reads to her children and plays with them and makes chocolate chip cookies for the neighborhood children in the midst of teaching the truth of the gospel and praying in front of her children and serving others as a part of family life.

However in the last years, many, many moms have gone to work and moved across from their own families, so there are few relationships and less traditions. Women put their children in day care or lots of activities and pick up fast food and place their children in front of the tv instead of having real conversations at dinner time; and their children, who long for relationship and affirmation, attach themselves to their peers and whoever has the time to spend with them and show them love. Consequently, when it used to be parents who passed on morality and faith; now, it is the outside culture--peers, tv and movie culture--but not primarily the family or community of believers who are close and share life together. I don't think it is necessarily an issue of a mom working or not--as a matter of fact, as I read more history, I see that moms have worked throughout the years--some had gardens and sold their produce; some took in laundry or sewed or ran a country store with her husband. But the issue was that the home was the center of life, the moms were devoted to serving their children and the children worked side by side with their parents and learned about life with them. The outside influence and peer dependence was so much less and not a way of normal life--and the media interruption of the family hours together was non-existent.

So, whereas a hundred years ago, most people became Christians through their homes (as a survey of 1898 shows) and it was because that is where they logged time and built relationships. Not so in modern times.

That makes the role of motherhood extremely important in our days--that we build life culture in such a way that it builds anchors from our children's hearts to our hearts; that it gives them a reason to always think of home as the best place to be; that we are inviting others into our home so they, too, will catch the family culture and then seek to build it for themselves.

It has given me even more reason to do the mom heart ministry. We want God to raise up leaders all over the world who cannot only teach the Biblical foundations of motherhood and the importance of passing on righteousness to the next generation. But we need there to be leaders to teach and then serve a cup of tea and light a candle and invite these moms into our lives and homes so that the younger moms can hear it and taste it and be served by us as Jesus served His disciples.

That is why Jesus didn't just give lectures to His disciples. He taught them and then lived with them; traveled with them, served them, healed their family members, cooked them meals and fed them. They heard Him and they felt His nearness and love--and that is the reason His disciples were willing to follow Him to their death, serving Him and His kingdom.

May the Lord bless you in your own little kingdom of life today and give you the grace to teach it and then live it well and with joy.
Love and blessings to all of you.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Grady, the Artist

*We'll let you know about the ultrasound results when we find out ourselves, probably tomorrow.*

My boy is quite the artist. Seriously. He has always amazed me with his abilities. He DOES NOT get it from his Mama, that's for sure. I guess that's why it's so amazing. I struggle with stick figures, so when I see how he's drawn something so effortlessly, it baffles me. :)

Anyway, just thought I'd share some of his art. It was cute. I had been telling him yesterday that we needed to show Daddy his art. This morning he was so excited and proud and said that he doesn't draw pictures anymore, now he draws art. ;)

By the way, he declared yesterday that he wants to grow up and marry a certain someone (I won't mention any names, because I don't want to manipulate any circumstances...I know he is only 5, but still...he thinks he already knows who he is going to marry...we've talked about how God needs to tell him who to marry, so we are now praying earnestly about his wife every night :) ), and be a "Daddy Artist." Cute. Love the job title he has picked out. Ahhh, love my kids!!

Grady showing his art to Daddy when he got home last night.
Showing the sisters.
This is the drawing that perked my interest the most. Do you know what it is? I kept my first guess to myself and had him explain it to me. My first guess was right..."a baby in a mama's belly." Are you kidding me? That looks like for real art, doesn't it? No, we do not have anything even remotely similar to this that he looked at to draw this. Has he ever even seen a glimpse of something similar to this? I don't know. But, I thought it was super impressive. What do you think? Do I have a prodigy on my hands? ;)
I mean, look at this. To say that I was impressed is a major understatement.
And now, just a few more from his art tablet. "A car on a bridge."
"A boat with a big tent (translation: sail)."
Grady's explanation: "Remember a long time ago when Daddy was watching TV a lot of days (translation: a long time, i.e. probably about an hour) and these were on the TV?" My guess: of the only things Joel enjoys watching at my mom's house on her DirecTV. :)
"A log truck"...perhaps he just spent some time in Saline, LA, eh? :) By the way, I starting reminding them how his "Granny used to work at a place where they brought those trucks to make the wood into tiny pieces called wood chips and then the wood chips went to another place so that they could make"...and his and Hadley's eyes lit up and they shouted "paper." So cool the education they are getting just from traveling to different places and talking about the things they see.
A tow truck.
I'm sure you can see what this is...a "beach," a whale, a bird, a palm tree. But, that palm tree is what got my attention. I am a loser when it comes to drawing...I wouldn't have known how to draw a palm tree...I thought his was really good how he drew the criss-cross lines on the trunk. He's just very aware of impresses me.
"The car on top is stuck in the snow and the tow truck is coming to get him out."
And last but not least, Cass was playing in his room one day when he was drawing. He decided to draw her. So, this is Cass crawling. ;)

Also, another big milestone for Grady. Last night he was complaining of his teeth hurting. We were driving to go get some groceries and I couldn't see it. I told him I'd look at it later. A couple of hourse later when we were shopping (after we'd eaten), he mentioned it again and pointed to one tooth in particular...his left bottom tooth. I immediately realized what was going on. I touched it and sure enough...loose. OH MY GOSH!! My children are growing up!! We had a little mini-celebration there in the produce section in English. It's always interesting the stares we get. :) We're always like a traveling little side show, but we were probably considered a main attraction last night. Oh well. He was so proud of his new accomplishment and asked me if I was proud of him for his loose tooth and art. :) SO proud of him, but I had to ask him to stop growing up. He said he couldn't...he needed to grow up so he could marry someone else. Does he think of himself married to us right now? Maybe he thinks that you are married if you just spend alot of time together. Not sure, but cute comeback.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Another Ultrasound for Grady

O.K., so I posted that last post last Wednesday. There was barely a knot there if you'll remember. Well, the next morning it was bigger again.

I had called our Dr. in the states (the ENT we had used while there) and talked to his nurse, Donna, on Tuesday. She was going to talk to Dr. Broocks and I was going to call back on Wednesday. Well, when he woke up with it so much smaller on Wed., I just didn't ever call. When it was back on Thursday, I called. She said that the Dr. had said that it might take a full month for the knot to go away after antibiotics. I asked her if it was normal for it to go down and almost away completely and then get bigger again. She went and asked him while she had me on the phone (love know some people would just fake it and pretend to know all the answers with certainty instead of asking). He said that wasn't normal. I asked her what he thought would be a good next step for us, what he thought it might be. She said that he had mentioned something about it being his salivary glands...that we'd probably just need to go to someone here to continue care.

So, that's what we did. We called our pediatrician here and she recommended an ENT to us. They fit us in that afternoon. She said, "I'm thinking it might be his salivary glands." So, that is what it appears to be at this point. I've read some things online about it, this being one thing (explains it pretty simply). But, basically, even if it is the salivary glands, there could still be a few different things it could be as related to the salivary glands...just inadequate drainage of the salivary glands or stones,etc.?

Joel and Grady are in the waiting room as I type this for his second ultrasound (the first was in the states) to try to see what's going on in there. Pray for a conclusion to this all. Obviously we are praying for it to just go away. But, beyond that, if it doesn't just go away on its own never to return, we pray that we find out what it is and that it's something really simple...that can be treated, cured, and that it never comes back.

I will let you all know what we find out. The results probably won't be ready until tomorrow or the next day. Things like that here are much slower than there in the states. We'll let you know.

Thanks for the continued prayers. We love you guys.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

BIG (no, HUGE) Update

Well, we have gotten SO MUCH done on the house and are hoping to mostly be all moved in and settled (i.e. most everything out of boxes...there will still be final touches left to do) by this weekend. YAY!!

We are LOVING this house and I will soon post pictures of just how scrumptious it is. It is really just perfect for us right now. Perfect. We are technically only supposed to be staying here until the end of the year, but are kind of wishing/hoping in some ways that it might work out that we stay longer. It's Brazil...that is definitely a possibility!! :)

Speaking of the end of the year plans, we are still hoping to make it back for furlough, as planned, by Thanksgiving/Christmas. To refresh your memories, this recent trip back was strictly to visit my mom and family...was a gift from her...not at all "furlough." So, we hope to make our scheduled furlough next winter, but are not sure what that will all look like. Since we are technically supposed to move up north to the Amazon at the end of this year, if that happens, it kind of puts a kink in those plans...not to mention that we just might not have the funds for it, plain and simple. So we are currently weighing all options.

Joel is now part of the staff at Asas. He oversees the students' maintenance training and maintenance of the airplanes. He hopes to also continue to fly occasionally, but is no longer technically in training. He had to lay down his flying before God once before, when he was a student at LeTourneau (college) and couldn't afford it. God gave it back to him later and provided training for him for free through his job at Honeywell (amazing!!). For various reasons, he is once again laying it down for God to do with it what He wants. It's always a bit difficult to lay down dreams, isn't it? Pray that God would make the paths straight and the way clear.

I am planning to start up my Portuguese classes again next week. It's been a bit of a whirlwind since we got back to Brazil 2 weeks ago. We got back on a Wednesday evening, spent the night at home (our home that still had boxes galore), unpacked our suitcases a bit, re-packed suitcases, and headed to an Asas retreat the next day (Thursday). Crazy. We got home from the retreat on Saturday evening and went straight to work getting all moved into this house. On that Monday we went back to our routine...Joel going to work at Asas, me homeschooling the kids, etc. On Monday, in addition to the 2 curriculums I'm already using with the kids (Sonlight Pre-K and Sing, Spell, Read, and Write), we started doing math (Math-U-See Primer) and I've started teaching Grady how to read (using How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons). It's busy, but SO MUCH FUN!! I can't imagine someone else teaching my kids all these great things. I'm so thankful that I get to do it. I'm so very glad that I get to spend all day every day with them. It's so fun getting to know them!!

Grady turned 5 while we were in the states (Jan. 3rd) and is quite the little man. He is quiet, reflective, thoughtful, and a very loyal friend. Within a group, he prefers to single out one person and be friends with him/her. He also likes for things to be in order. He is LOVING learning right now...of course the goal is to keep it that way for a lifetime. He learned to tie his shoe on Friday and loved every minute of the step-by-step process. He is pumped about learning to read...and his 'new book' (the math workbook). With all these little girls filling up our house, a great thing happened while we were gone. A little 6 year old boy moved into the house next door. He and Luis Felipe play together every day. Luis Felipe is a year older, but smaller than Grady, and is just as silly, so they get along great. :) Grady loves all his sisters, but baby Cass holds a VERY special place in his heart for sure. He is so sweet and tender with her and I love to hear him talking to her and showing/teaching her things. By the way, Grady's cheek still has a knot. We plan to call the doctor that we saw in the U.S. today and see what he recommends and go from there. Continue to pray please. (Update: I actually wrote that yesterday, but this morning I am barely able to feel his knot at fact, I couldn't find it at first. So, I think we're on the home stretch of that weirdness...whatever it was. I'll let you know if it comes back or doesn't go away completely.)

Hadley continues to be the 'life of the party.' She is seriously the most confident little thing I've ever seen. She walks into a room and is ready for fun. She considers herself friends with the whole group. She turned 4 while we were in the states (Feb. 20th). She and Eissa are playing together a lot with their mini-Tupperware set, being mamas to their baby dolls, putting on make-up, etc. They also play outside with their brother in the tree house and such, but it's fun to see the girls playing together at this stage. Eissa used to be the odd man out...the tag-a-long Tooloo...but she's gotten older and is now worthy of playtime with the older two. :)

Speaking of Eissa, she is now 2 1/2 and is doing really well at learning all of the things that kids have to learn when they are 2. :) It's such a power struggle at that age, isn't it? If they learn to always obey at that age, it makes life much easier in the future...when they are 22 for instance and listening to God. She's learning very well and we are having to work at that sort of thing alot less now. Eissa is the Mama of the family...she could seriously care for a real live infant if need be. She ALWAYS has a baby on her hip or in a stroller or baby carrier. It's really, really cute. She is still our little comedian too and is so much fun.

Cass will be A YEAR OLD (!!) in about 2 weeks. Are you kidding me?!?! I seriously can't believe it. She was our perfect baby and still is to some extent, but in the last month or so, the absolute perfection is gone. :) She's just growing up and actually has opinions that she is not at all shy about 'voicing' in her own special little 11 month old way. She is all over the place. She isn't walking yet. All of our other kids were walking by this age (9 1/2 months - 11 months), but I think part of the reason she's not is because we just traveled so much during her trying-to-walk time frame...she spent lots of time in her carrier. Or who knows...maybe she was just going to walk later than the others no matter what. Doesn't matter...I just find it interesting. She is cruising all over and is VERY GRACEFUL! She has never just plopped down when trying to get from the standing position to the floor. She has ALWAYS lowered herself gently...great muscle control and poise. She's got great balance too. I'm impressed by her. She's still such a happy baby and loves her siblings...although lets them know now when they are getting in her space too much. :) She's still tiny, but eats like a horse and I'm not kidding. She is now up to 15 pounds. She's got the biggest blue Granny says they look like big blue marbles. :) I had never thought about it, but I agree.

OH, and the double stroller story. As we left Dallas on our way to Miami, the man told us to put the stroller a certain place to be stowed away until we got off. We put it there. It never got on the plane. So, we got to Miami and had no stroller. It was so discouraging. The thought of navigating through 3 more airports (through customs too) with 4 small children without a stroller was very disheartening. But, turns out it wasn't that bad after all. And, we had more bags than when we left to go to the states, so we had more carts full of baggage to push. Me, Joel, Grady, and sometimes Hadley (sometimes one of us pushed 2) had to each push a cart...if we'd had a stroller, we're not sure what we would've done. Also, we had to tie 2 of our bags on top of our car as it was...where would a stroller have gone? :) I think God knew what He was doing. He probably just made our stroller completely invisible so they wouldn't put it on. Makes me smile. :) It was discouraging at first and we were afraid that we wouldn't see it again, but thankfully it arrived at Asas just 2 days ago. :) Seriously, God had that stroller thing all under control. :)

And one other 'update'...we have a new nephew. Asher Badolato Ebersole was born late Monday night. After 2 sweet girls, Joel's brother and his wife now have a son too. Congratulations!!

So cute, right?
Love his hair.
The whole beautiful fam...Joss, Andre, Asher, Alexa, and Kristin.

And now, pictures of our kiddos. For more pictures, go to my Facebook account. If you aren't my friend yet, what are you waiting for? I just added a lot of pictures from the past couple of weeks. I hope to add more from the months past soon. Enjoy!

His first shoe-tying.
Grady and Luis buds.
A little living room makeover.
Hadley and her sister about to head out the door, taking their babies on a little 'trip.'
Taking her baby on a little stroll to the park.
Eissa has started dressing herself in the morning now too...per her request..."self, Mama, self." She did a great job this morning (all by herself...I wasn't even in the room) and was so proud of herself.
Look at those big blue marbles!!

All 4 kiddos playing together. Fun stuff.
The girls with their babies. :)

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Still There

I'm so sorry I feel so out of touch right now. I know you don't feel 'close' to me when I don't blog and believe is still a priority for me. But, there are other temporary priorities that must get done before blogging and there just is never time left for the blogging at the end of the day. Soon.

But, I wanted to ask you all to continue to pray for Grady's jaw. The swelling/knot went down alot, but never went completely away. This morning it is bigger than it has been the past few days. We were hoping that by the end of his antibiotics it would be completely gone. He took his last pill last night. He remains just signs or symptoms of any kind except for that blasted swollen jaw. :)

Thanks for you prayers. We're not sure of the next step, but will know more soon. We'll continue to keep you posted.