Sunday, June 29, 2008

In Honor of Jacob

There is a very special family that inspires me and I want you to meet them.

Their slogan is Fully Rely On God- FROG

They don't take this slogan lightly and they have lived it through thick and thin. I encourage you to go and meet them over at their blog. I know you will fall in love with their faith and family as I have. Meet a little guy who will capture your heart the moment you "meet" him in blog world..

Meet Jacob...

Jacob was diagnosed with adrenocortical carcinoma - a very rare and aggressive cancer - at the age of 3. After a very difficult 28 month battle, Jacob passed away and was completely healed in Heaven on June 12, 2006 - changing our lives forever. He was only 6 years old - but his courage, grace and strength made a lasting impact on those who knew him and he continues to inspire us all. He touched many lives with his contagious smile and silliness and he will live in our hearts forever. Jacob taught us all to FROG (Fully-Rely-On-God) and he showed us that each day is a gift and we must celebrate LIFE, walk in FAITH, hang onto HOPE, LOVE deeply and BELIEVE ! He taught us all to live, love, laugh and always take time to DANCE! He was a most precious gift from God, a miracle, a hero - the most Amazing Jacob. You can read the story of our son on his website . . .
Amazing Jacob

I found this blog during the time that God was teaching me about compassion. Compassion- to step into someone's pain. See blogs like this are something the old Angel might have avoided. The truth is that Heather has lived through my worst nightmare. She watched her sweet baby die and she couldn't stop it. I still cry regularly while reading this blog. It hurts so deeply for me- I find myself weeping. The old Angel would have wanted to avoid this at all costs- pretend this can't happen. After all- if it happened to Heather it could happen to me. Fear is all about me. Compassion is all about others.

Still I read and watched Heather walk through the pain of trusting God as He brought her son home to be healed in Heaven. Then watched the joy God brought them as Allie came home from Guatemala. The deep knowledge of pain had not made Heather weaker or broken her. Somehow she had this strength and trust and depth that most of us never get to during this life. I knew it was something I needed to learn.

Reading this blog has been a tiny piece of me learning to not run from deep fear and pain. I am starting to understand that embracing everything God sends brings deep joy despite the circumstances. Surrender can be painful and joyful all at once.
Heather thank you so much for your heart and passion. I think your family is precious and amazing. You make a difference.


I wanted to do something to honor Jacob for the change he is making in the world through his precious and courageous momma. So when my Kaitlyn told me she had decided she wanted to cut her hair short I talked to her about Jacob and what he went through and we looked at the
Locks Of Love website together. We decided we would both cut our hair together to donate to Locks Of Love in honor of Jacob and all the little heroes out there like him.

Soon we decided everyone except Kaiya needed a hair cut and we should just make it a family party. So everyone decided how much to cut and we had a blast.

I encourage you to let your kids learn giving and compassion in every way you can. Help them give and grow whenever you can. It isn't about what we do as much as it is about the condition of our hearts. Changing the world and lives isn't something we do one day. It's something that happens a step and a time.

Thank you Jacob! You helped me learn what compassion means. Now you are teaching my children about giving. You have given this world far more than it gave you. We will never forget you. When I walk through heaven I will be so thrilled to hug your sweet healthy body. Thank you for everything. Love, Angel and the Crew

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Kaiya Update- 3 weeks home

Here are some things I want to remember about this time... Kaiya has been home 3 weeks now. I have been with her a little over 1 month. She is amazing to me. I am truly blessed and blown away by how fast she is developing and making progress.


Here are words Kaiya can say in English. Keep in mind this kid refuses to perform and will only bust out with these words when and where she wants to use them. It's quirky and cute. It is definitely baby talk but you can understand her clearly.
Mama, Dada, Kaiya, up, all done (sounds like all gone), hi, look, yogurt, night night, more

She can do baby signs for these words (we just make up our own for what works for us)... all done, hungry, more


When we first met her she could walk but was EXTREMELY wobbly. She fell every 5-10 minutes. She did not know how to bend her knees. It is apparent that she had done the majority of her "walking" around a crib... holding onto the crib rails and shuffling her feet without bending her knees.
She is at this moment zooming around my house like a little expert. We are feeling less and less petrified that we will spend every day at the ER due to her wobbliness. We do still have to be careful putting shoes on her. We will wait till she is a full fledged expert to do that all the time.
When we met Kaiya she could hardly sit on her own unless she was on a hard surface. Her core muscles were very weak. If she was on a chair WATCH OUT! Disaster could happen at any time. If we had her on a couch we had to put pillows around her.
She had no concept of gravity and would dive off of any couch, chair, bed at any time. Fortunately she also had very little concept of how to move past a boundary so you could put a pillow in front of her and she figured she had to stay put. :0)
Now she can sit with no problem anywhere. She can scooch off of a bed and down the stairs and off couches on her belly. No sad little pillow boundary is going to stop this firecracker anymore. She seems to be grasping the concept of cause and effect very quickly. Don't close a drawer on your finger.... don't dive forward when you are sitting on a couch. You get the idea.

Here is Kaiya going down the stairs now... (check out that cute new belly she is sporting!- OH! Don't mind the raisins on the floor and the wreckage in the background. That's just what our house looks like now. It's been Kaiyanized.)

When we met Kaiya I could immediately tell she was bright. She was observant and she wanted to touch everything. From the beginning you could tell she was going to be fun. She was adorable and funny yet very volatile. She did not understand the word no very well- though she learned very quickly. She was confused and upset.

Volatile temper in China....:0)

Still though, we got to see lots of giggles and smiles really quickly. It was funny though- the smiles would only last a fraction of a second for the first few days. Then they slowly got bigger and longer.

Glimpses of her personality in China..(note the ever present spoon that had to be available in China)

Kaiya is a little scientist. You could see her purposefully bang on a table to hear the noise, then touch it, then put her face down on it and then YES, lick it.... Then she would move into the couch with the same process. TOO CUTE!

She is now HILARIOUS!!! She does a little jig and giggles about 20 times a day. She is USUALLY smiling. She knows what a camera and the flip are and will usually ham it up when I pull them out. She is a complete cuddle bug. She LOVES to snuggle!!! She is almost ALWAYS paying attention- looking, thinking, experimenting. She is very obedient and sweet but does know how to throw a good old fashioned temper tantrum occasionally.

She now think being trouble is adorable and funny!

When we first got Kaiya she was dehydrated. She hardly peed and did not poo for the first few days. I could tell there were times she had been hungry. Now I am not saying she starved. I don't think she did. I just think there were many times when she would have kept eating and the meal was over. :0(

I could tell she had almost all her nutrition through a bottle with the nipple cut off. Her tongue still had the reflex to push all the food out of her mouth. She had to learn to eat. The first 2 days she could do one to two grains of rice at a time. She would still choke sometimes.

She was obsessive about food. If she woke up and we didn
't have yogurt- no wait- 3 yogurts ready to shovel into her mouth at break neck speed she would melt down into sobs. This was challenging since she could only eat a TEENY bit at a time and most of it still went down her shirt or out her nose. YES OUT HER NOSE! She still has a hole in the roof of her mouth remember? ;0) So while she was still learning to eat we had a lot of food coming out the nostril. LOL!!
Things like raisins I would tear into two parts or she would choke on it. She could not eat anything that wasn't teeny tiny or mushy. She also had an obsession with spoons. I am not kidding. She wanted to hold every spoon. This included when we went into a restaurant and they had soup spoons on every table. She would YELL at the top of her lungs to hold every spoon. It was as if she needed to be ready to eat at a moments notice. FUN TIMES!

In China... (note the spoons! LOL!)

She also wanted to feed herself but was not yet capable. She had could hold things just fine but had linited coordination in her arms.
The food would just FLY when she got frustrated. SOOOO MUCH FUN while you are in hotels, restaurants, trains and planes in CHINA! Rice and egg would be flying EVERYWHERE!! If I tried to feed her and wouldn't let her feed herself she would YELL at top volume. Kaiya would also yell if she didn't get my food, my mom's food and the neighboring table's food too. She got more food all over the floor and all over herself than in her mouth. I left a lot of big tips and spent a lot more time teaching her how to act than eating during the China trip. It was so embarrassing!

She also has no suction because of her cleft palate. This means she can't suck out of a sippy cup if it has the suction part in it, or through a straw. She can't drink out of a b
ottle unless the nipple is cut off. This made for an interesting job for momma for awhile. :0)

In China... Could only drink a sip of water at a time.
Now Kaiya is a different kid when it comes to food. She has put on about 2 or 3 pounds in the past 4 weeks. She still freaks out if she gets very hungry but we don't have to shovel food first thing in the morning. She will actually turn food down now and say she is all done when there is food on her plate. AWESOME! She can feed herself. She is still a messy two year old but most of it gets in her mouth.

Here we are at Chili's. She is having her first ice cream ever.

She no longer has an obsession with spoons. She likes them but doesn't panic if she isn't holding one. We can go to restaurants with no major issues now. She still will fuss a bit about someone else's food- especially other small children- but for the most part eats her food happily.

Eating in the car by herself now...
She can eat almost anything now. She will chow down on hamburger meat, hand her a slice of turkey or cheese, a box of raisins- whatever. She is awesome.

She has a sports bottle and she can chug water like a champ. Super cute!

When we met Kaiya she was very interested in toys but wasn't sure what to do with them. She also only knew how to play alone. She would smile and laugh but only for a second at a time. Now she will wrestle, giggle, tickle and play with us. She has even started doing imaginary interactive play where she will pretend to give us food and take food and eat it. SO stinking cute.

Kaiya is an awesome sleeper. I ADORE this quality. :0) When we first got her she could NOT be touched when she was trying to sleep. She would yell at me if I tried to touch her when she was sleepy. If we were out during nap time and she could not be laid down she would melt down hysterically. AWFUL!! I would place her on the bed and lay next to her and she would get on her hands and knees and rock her self back and forth furiously and then collapse. Or she would just sit on the bed staring until she just fell over asleep. Most every time she woke up she would just weep. She would look around SOO terribly confused. You could tell she just could not understand where she was. It
was crazy sad to see her.

Fussy in China. I am not allowed to touch her. (note the ever present spoon... LOL!)

Now Kaiya loves to cuddle. She sleeps from about 9pm to 9am if she gets a nap which is about 2pm-3:30pm. She can skip nap sometimes and then she will go to sleep at about 7:30pm. She will still just drift off to sleep by herself. I hold her a minute and then put her in her crib- it's in our room. She will do this objection yell- it's not really upset- it's more like she is just stating her case. It cracks me up... she will do that little yell and then lay down and crash. Sometimes if she is upset or overtired she will do the rocking thing. If she doesn't go to sleep easily we will pull her out and snuggle with her. She is so precious. She just loves to snuggle with mama. She will curl right up against me and smile. Every morning we snuggle. She just giggles and curls up in my arms and says, "mama, mama, mama." It is just the most precious thing.
OK that is all I can think of right now! Any questions about our sweet Kaiya and how she is developing?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Kaiya's New Sign

OK! Well it's not brand new. She did the sign for hungry 2 times in China but hasn't done it since. Suddenly today she started telling us when she wanted to eat. Smart little booger. She has been home 3 weeks today. Love this kiddo. I just adore how proud she looks when she does something new. Check out her little celebration dance. It's like a little boxing move- she weaves side to side. She does it every time she gets excited. It tickles me to pieces. I also just can't stand myself when she gets that cute little dimple up by her nose. It's hilarious. I have never seen a dimple there before and it is ridiculously cute. OK... I know you can't tell I like her. I will try to be more honest. LOL!! ;0) Angel

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Kaitlyn's 5th Birthday Fun