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!