Friday, December 15, 2017

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Holiday Joys

We hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving. We have SO much to be thankful for!

November has been a lot of fun with Henry's Marine Biology class. Just recently, he got to dissect a dogfish shark! Doesn't he look like the most handsome scientist???
He also got to learn about different crabs and hold some of the smaller ones. This weekend, he'll be doing some learning and dissection of salmon. Very exciting!
Our family went to our favorite Christmas tree farm for our annual tradition of picking out the season's Christmas tree.
We picked a Grand Fir this year and love it! Lots of fun decorating it. 

December should prove to be a special month, as well, as we celebrate our Savior's birth in lots of ways. We have plans to see zoo lights, the Oregon Gardens Christmas, our favorite comedian Taylor Mason, and ride the Holiday Express. We're really looking forward to some fun times in Seattle on vacation. And, we'll be celebrating Henry's 4th anniversary as part of our family on December 10th! Have a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A Year Come and Gone

I have been a very busy lady apparently, and can't believe it's been almost a whole year since I've updated Henry's blog! So sorry about that. I'll do my best to catch you up now with some great pictures of our growing boy. If I don't get back here soon, Happy Thanksgiving!

Henry is in second grade now, eight years old, and still doing great homeschooling with me. This year has been a little easier as so far his subjects are reviewing and building on what he learned last year. He became quite a little reader by the end of 1st grade; we put many hours into the phonics course and it sure paid off. He continues to really like science and we just started two extra10-week science courses at a Christian homeschool resource center nearby: Marine Biology and Creation Quest. They have been great so far and really good for Henry to be in a classroom with other students and teachers while still having my assistance. Other than that, Henry enjoys literature, vocabulary, some math, and puts up with the writing skills and spelling subjects. And he loves going to museums!

We had a really amazing summer road trip through the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, Coeur d'Alene, and seeing friends in WA. Henry enjoyed seeing the bison, geysers, and other natural wonders along the way. It was a very memorable time together that included Papa and NaiNai at Yellowstone.

At the end of August, right after Henry's birthday, he had a femoral osteotomy at Shriner's. He wore leg braces for a month and has been in physical therapy since to help him get stronger and practice standing and walking. The surgery positioned his femur bones more correctly to his hip sockets, improving his ability to straighten when standing and the joint motion so as to preserve his hips in the long-term. He is making progress each week though there are still many muscles to strengthen so that he can stay straight when standing and walking with his walker. If you think about it, please pray that he would be more motivated as he doesn't like all the hard work necessary to keep improving and would just rather be pushed around in a wheelchair:).

Henry still loves playing with his brothers, going to church, working with Legos, watching t.v., and playing games with the family. He made a couple new friends over the summer from church who enjoy talking and hanging with him, doing what Henry can do since that is limited. That has been a blessing.

We make four years together in December as a family! That is huge as we are getting so close to him being with us as long as he was not. We are planning a fun family vacation in Seattle after Christmas. And then, well, we are not sure when and where but will be making a job change and relocating. I'll keep you posted but for now, we are just enjoying the time we have left here. God is good!

Enjoy a few more photo highlights from the past year. Blessings to you all!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Henry's Happy Holidays!

Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas from Henry and family! 

Today, we enjoyed a little sledding and snowball throwing out in our first snow of the season. It won't last long but it is quite a winter storm out there! Henry enjoyed his first sled experience.

We have had a great few months of homeschooling already. He is reading to me, just started subtraction, loves science, and has improved in writing a lot. We really enjoy the ORVA K12 program we are using. We also had a nice Thanksgiving at home with just our family. We did our annual Christmas tree hunting at a local tree farm and are having a nice Christmas season of activity already. Here are a few other recent photos. I will be posting soon, as well, since we are coming up on THREE years as a family! Can't believe it!!!


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Homeschooled Henry

Henry and I have had a great time homeschooling for over a month now. It has definitely been an adjustment but I am not sure it could have gone smoother. Henry used to complain almost every day about going to public school, but I have not heard him complain about school at home yet. Even when we would both rather sleep in a little more:).

We have gotten into a routine that works for us. Henry may do some handwriting about 9:15 a.m. before his online class time with teacher and classmates from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. each day. We then move into phonics, literature, math, science, P.E., and vocabulary depending on what is scheduled for the day. We usually end by 2:30 p.m. when we have to go pick up a brother but sometimes need to go longer. I love the K12 ORVA format, giving me clear guidance on lesson plans and expectations that is flexible with his learning needs. The variety of online activity and lessons with hands on and teaching time with me is a great mix. Henry loves that he can take breaks and move around as needed, and that he gets lunch food he likes:). We can move ahead if things are going easily, and slow down if more difficult. We have been staying on schedule pretty much, though. Henry is doing great with his coursework. It is such a joy to be with him as he learns. He read to me his first book recently and his writing has improved so much since school started. He really likes science and the experiments we do. We just finished a pretty big book, The Borrowers, for his first book report. It's amazing to me how much we have done already, and we are just getting started!

Anyway, I wanted to let you all know how homeschool is going and that we appreciate the ongoing prayers. Henry has a spinal surgery follow-up appointment rescheduled for November. If everything looks good, we may start to see the orthopedic surgeon more to see what needs to be done for Henry's legs and hips. I will keep you posted! Thanks and God bless!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Henry's Super Summer

Hi Everyone!

Sorry I have not updated the blog in so long! Henry's second decompression surgery was in April and it went really well. Henry's back had healed nicely from the one in February and actually looked straighter than originally thought, so the surgeon decompressed the lower spine but decided it was not necessary to put in a straightening rod from lower to upper back. It also went a little quicker than previously and he spent less time recovering in the hospital, as well as, at home. I had been dreading a repeat of February's surgery and recovery, so this was a real praise.
Even though Henry missed a month of school for each surgery, he did really well in Kindergarten. However, he also hated going to school. While he made some friends and had really great teachers and assistants, he just never got comfortable with the six hour days of noise, large crowds, and depending on other people to meet his needs in a timely way. Henry does not like being the center of attention and the children were naturally drawn to him, getting up in his personal space a lot. He would get embarrassed or panic when he had emergency toileting needs, especially after a couple of accidents, and seems to have heightened senses that cause discomfort in certain environments. We have also learned that our sweet boy is very Type A in personality, liking things predictable and controllable as much as possible and for a number of reasons. He would actually get annoyed when others students answered the teacher's questions without raising their hands:). So, while he loves to learn, the public school environment was too stressful and we decided to try homeschooling this year for 1st grade. We will be using the K12 Oregon Virtual Academy with his own online teachers while I will be his Learning Coach. Both Henry and I are getting excited about it. He starts on September 6th so I will keep you updated on how it is going. Three-hour school days with the personal attention and pace should be a nice change for him. And we will be looking for extracurricular activities for him to be involved in as well.

We have had the best summer since Henry came home. His first summer was spent in halo and vest, recovering from major c-spine fusion surgery, and last summer was great but we had moved into our new home in July and were very focused on settling in. No such big events this summer- just lots of fun! We kicked it off with a family reunion vacation to Oklahoma with my family. Four out of five of us have summer birthdays, we celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary, our whole family participated in pre-teen missions camp and Vacation Bible School, we went camping at gorgeous Cove Palisades State Park (Henry's first experience in a tent), and much more. So many blessings!


Henry turned seven years old on August 20th! We had a great time at Dizzy Castle, one of his favorite indoor play areas because we can go in with him and help him do everything. It was an intimate, knight-themed party with a very cool and delicious castle cake. He is growing up so fast and such a blessing to our family. We look forward to a great school year, and appreciate your prayers as we venture into the new world of homeschooling together. It will be a different routine for us and I must continue to seek a good balance with everything. Thank you and I hope you all have a great year as well! Blessings!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Decompression Surgery - Part 1

Henry has had the first stage of decompression surgery on his spine! He was supposed to have had his upper and lower spine completed on February 9th, but the upper back took six hours in the operating room alone. He is settled in at home now after five days in the hospital. Everything went really well; he has just struggled with pain, nausea from medicines, fatigue, swelling, etc. He looks and feels better every day, our church has been taking good care of us with dinners, and we are all glad to be back home.

As Henry's swelling goes down and he becomes able to move around and become more active, he must wear his new Oregon Ducks' brace. It is not his preference to wear it, of course, but we are thankful that it can come off for bathing and sleeping. A nice change from his halo and vest from the c-spine surgery in June '14! Henry will be back in school in another week or so, starting out with shorter days until able to do full days. He will have a tutor at home in the meantime.

It has also been a huge blessing to be living in Portland, much closer to Shriner's so that we can more easily go back and forth while still taking care of our other sons. Shriner's has been amazing and we are so thankful for the fantastic surgeon's and staff caring for him there.

So, what is next? The lower spine! Decompression in his lower back may be scheduled in even just a couple of months. I cannot say we are excited to do that again and so soon, but it needs to be done and we will make the best of it. We so appreciate everyone's prayers and support!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Two Years and Halfway There

Our family has reached some significant milestones with Henry recently, and we have some significant dates coming up, so it is time for another blog!

Two years ago on December 9th, we held Henry in our arms after a long adoption process for the first time. On the 10th, we signed China's papers to be legally recognized as his parents. Our emotions were all over the place and frankly, they still are. We have come through so much together already and have so much more to come. Adoption remains a messy, wonderful, life-changing journey for all of us. I continue to work on Henry's two-year post-adoption report and it is fun to think back on how much he has grown and adjusted these last two years...all by God's grace!

Coming home right before Christmas was a magical and interesting time. Henry doesn't remember much about that first Christmas with us, with so many changes occurring in his life, but it was very special and we did just celebrate our third Christmas together! We celebrated in our new Portland home with my dad and his wife joining us from Oklahoma. We spent a few days before Christmas on a road trip to the beautiful redwood forests of northern California and traveling up the Oregon coast. We had a nice Christmas Eve service at church, then Christmas morning presents and a delicious Christmas dinner.
Our family brought in the New Year with activities around Portland. The previous few months had been quite wearisome for us with extra responsibilities and painful illness. Randy had the shingles and I had an excruciating shoulder injury (both much alleviated now), so needless to say, we really enjoyed some quiet and rest over the break. The boys were supposed to go back to school on Monday but snow and freezing rain postponed the return until tomorrow. I think we are all ready:). But, I do request your prayers over Henry's transition back to the regular routine of school.

I have done a little math just for fun...Henry has now been with us for 758 days, only 28 days shy of being home half of the time he was an orphan in China. When he has been with us 1,572 days on March 29, 2018, he will have been with us as long as he was not, so we will have to celebrate big!

We do have some big news concerning Henry's medical condition. He continues to have compression of his spinal cord in two areas of his back (upper and lower), so is now scheduled to have decompression surgery on Tuesday, February 9th, at Shriner's with the same excellent spinal surgeon. It is another significant and risky procedure requiring a brace and lengthy recovery period, but we are prayerful that all will go well. We made it through his c-spine fusion by God's grace and know He will get us through the next one.

We do appreciate your prayers as preparations are made in a number of areas, and I will keep you posted as we know more in the days ahead. For now, our happy boy is full of life and the love of learning, especially when it comes to superheroes and Wild Kratt animal adventures. He has great plans to be a researcher, scientist, or teacher most days, and just loves to be home with his family. I so enjoy watching him interact and work hard to keep up with his older brothers. It is challenging to put in words how much growth we have seen in him and ourselves in our adjustment and relationships with one another. It is also equally as difficult to express how thankful we are to have him in our lives and to have the loving support of so many of you. Thank you for your prayers and interest in our adoption journey. The Lord bless each of you richly in Christ this year ahead!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Back to School!

Wow. It has been since May that I wrote a blog post. In fact, I have quite forgotten I had one until just recently. So much has been going on; so many good things, big and small, that I have been quite enjoying them!

We had a fantastic summer, kicked off by a most wonderful vacation to Florida and Louisiana. We flew in and out of New Orleans, drove the Gulf Coast to Destin for a few days to see a niece get married, then drove to Grand Isle, LA, to spend more time with family there before heading home. Highlights? The beach, beach, beach! And so many precious memories made together.

Not long after the trip, we moved again! The Lord provided a home to buy, so in July, we settled into our new house just a couple miles from the rental one. We are loving it and Henry has his own room!

The Super Birthday Boy!
Sled Hockey
Other summer highlights were Vacation Bible School at church, Pre-teen Action Camp in which our whole family got to be involved, Henry's 6th birthday (Superman themed), Fish Fest with great music, a sled hockey clinic for Henry in which he made the news, the Oregon State Fair, the Mt. Hood railroad train ride, and more. School finally started on July 10th for Henry and he is adjusting so well to full day, every day Kindergarten. God put everything together perfectly, like he always does, to ensure Henry's care and opportunity to learn and grow like the other students, and he just got transferred to a 504 plan from an IEP plan. We are so thankful for all God has done and know it is going to be a great year for Henry.

We also just had great news that the request for a customized power wheelchair for Henry has been approved. He should have his new wheels in about a week or so. We are super excited for this and know it is another big provision from the Lord. I will post pictures when it comes! He will use it at school mainly.

Henry also got new glasses, similar to his green ones except they are charcoal gray. There is no word from Shriner's at this point about any upcoming surgeries, and Henry seems to be doing great, so we are just trusting God with all of his needs and glad that his body can be allowed to grow and strengthen at this time.

Henry has joined Trail Life USA with his big brother! We are excited about this opportunity for him to make new friends and learn about the outdoors and lots of other great things. The troop is working to accommodate his special needs as well. There are definitely perks in living in the larger city...many more things to do and experience, especially with Henry's accessibility needs. We are just really blessed in so many ways and most importantly, with the love of Christ and of family. Yes, we are so thankful for family. And thankful for all the friends who love and care for ours! Blessings to you all.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

One Blessed Mommy (Important Update at the End)

I thought that I would share my favorite things about being a mommy to Henry with you all. All three sons are my pride and joy, but since this is a Henry blog, I thought you might enjoy reading some of the ways he lights up our lives. Just the fact that I get to hold him, love on him, look at him and talk to him in person each day is such a gift. It is an incredible privilege to be called Henry's Mommy, and I praise God that we have just spent our second Mother's Day together!

This photo was taken at the beach in Seaside this weekend. We had a wonderful, warm time together as a family making memories...the best Mother's Day gift I could ask for!

I will start with my favorite time each day with Henry. No matter how tired I may be or how hard the day may have been, our nighttime routine infuses a sense of closeness, security, and love into our relationship...a retaking, at times, of peace to help him lie down and sleep well through the night. It may take us an hour to include everything: bath time, pajamas, brushing teeth, reading books and Bible or devotional, tucking in, then lights out to hold hands for singing and prayer. This is by far some of our most tender moments, when this busy boy relaxes with Mommy's hand and voice. He usually falls asleep during prayer, and though it is dark, I can hear him begin to breathe deeply and slowly let go of my hand as he drifts off. Sometimes he is still awake when I finish and we give our final goodnight wishes, but what joy I (and His Heavenly Father must) feel to know he is at peace enough to rest. The first months with us were full of insecurity, fear, distrust, and more, affecting sleep for all of us. We have come a long way and I am so thankful!

Some of my other Henry-blessings are:
  • his English-speaking attempts and learning...tonight he said he was going to do something in particular because he has a very smart brain; he changes verbs to past tense the best he can, like "hided" instead of "hid; sometimes he will take a word or phrase and use it in a totally different context, like "I have freedom!" when partially taking off his seatbelt, or "Mom, you have a bad case of the kisses and hugs!"; and my favorite is when he repeats a word he has heard but doesn't quite get it right, like "venenom" instead of "venom," or "Octimus" instead of "Optimus" (he really likes Optimus Prime and the RescueBots right now!). Henry has an incredible memory and out of the blue will say, "Mom/Dad, what does _______ mean?"-words he heard in a conversation or on t.v., like banished, prime, and engineer. Henry is a deep thinker and very, very verbal. He challenges and amuses me every day!
  • his vivid imagination in play...Henry can see or hear about anything and immediately get to role playing it. He acts out and verbalizes everything he knows about the particular subject, using props and anybody who will join him. I never know what he'll ask me to role play next: skunks, termites, rescue (of course), Bolt from the movie, cooking competitions, etc. He also knows exactly how it should be played out and gives attention and direction to every detail. Every day is an adventure with Henry!
  • his determination and focus. When Henry sets his mind on something, he is ALL about whatever that is. He doesn't let his physical limitations trouble him too much, he just pretends to do whatever he wants to do or does what he can with all the energy he has. He doesn't give up unless really tired or hurting, and dreams big dreams about what he will do when he grows up. While we talk about the reality of his special needs, he has a lot of passion to do many things, so whatever he can do, he will do with all his heart. I love this about him!
  • his snuggles...need I say more?
  • his tender heart towards Jesus and God's Word. He amazes people with his knowledge of Bible stories, and he loves Jesus' songs.
  • that he loves me. That, in itself, astounds and moves me to tears tonight, after a sweet Mother's Day filled with love and attention from these amazing guys. I am blessed beyond measure, especially to be loved as mother by one who I did not bring into the world.
I hope you have enjoyed a little glimpse into our life with Henry, and just how much he blesses us. Adoption, special needs, post-trauma, cultural and language differences, and more are HARD. But more than that, they provide opportunities for growth, grace, and good in each of our lives. I would not change it, or him, for the world.

I am one blessed Mommy!

UPDATE: Henry's genetic testing has confirmed that he has Metatropic Dysplasia, a rare condition in the spine and joints that worsens over time. However, we have a GREAT GOD who hears and answers prayer, so please continue to lift up his health and well-being to the Father, and stay tuned for updates!