family picture

family picture
We "want our very serve as HIS signature to all mankind so that all may know His work," Job 37:7

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Mommy hack

Most of my organizational ideas come from necessity. I think that probably rings true for most people. I noticed that when we left to go out of town or left the children with others for the night, there was an anxiousness on both sides when we handed over the medicine schedule for our two kids who take daily meds. 
I always handed over a spreadsheet for each child that had each medicine and it's dosage and when to give. Then the caretaker could check off when given and initial. We had to add the initial section for when we went for long extended trips because our kids would sometimes switch caretakers mid week (cousin would take to my mom). This allowed a better switchover for the caretakers. They could easily see where the last one left off. 
But it still didn't help the anxiousness of "what if I get the dosage wrong?" I needed to make it more dummy proof. So this is what I came up with. I got the idea when we were discharged from the hospital with Joel in June. I was delivered medicine for him right before we left and there was a syringe for each medicine with this tape on it that had a line. That line matched up with his dosage. I thought I heard angels singing when I noticed this but it could have just been the TV. Why do all pharmacy's not do this?  It was genius. 

So from that experience this was produced and now not only is it easier for us to leave the kids with someone it is easier for me and I feel a little more confident. Now, grab your favorite washi tape. Can I got woot woot for washi tape? I'm addicted. Grab your medicine bottle (or bottles in our case) and a medicine syringe for each med. Every refill we get I get a new syringe and new stopper if you don't get stoppers with your meds find a pharmacy that has them. They are so helpful in getting out every last drop, keep from air bubbles getting in your syringe, keep things tidier and it make's me feel cool. 
Now take your washi tape and wrap it around your syringe. I always use the bottom of the tape as
the dosage point. This allows me the ability to see all of the meds being drawn up and double check it for air bubbles. See the photo is at 1.2 mls. This is Joel's BP medicine dosage. 
Next grab your bottle and use the same washi tape and wrap it around the bottle. Make sure not to cover any important information. 
Now this is my favorite part. If you have other medicine choose a different washi tape to do that bottle and syringe. Then when you (or another caretaker) are giving medicines they just match the syringe to the bottle. 💥 
So easy, super cute and it gives you a good reason to have lots of different washi tape. Your welcome. 
I hand wash and air dry my syringes. I have not had one slip and come off. So there. That is my mommy hack. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Hard stuff from China

When we adopted Joel we became a Chinese American family.  After we visited China and brought our son home we immediately fell in love not just with Joel but also the people of the Republic of China.  We were invested in them.  So now I follow some of the news and hurt when I see that people are killed in a train accident or a young man goes into a school and stabs students.  I hurt when they hurt. 
In January the government of China created something called a "Baby Safe Island" this was a place where children could be safely abandon.  This was to try and keep children safe and many times get them the medical care they needed (and before you place judgment on China here in the United States it is legal to abandon your child at any hospital/police station with no questions asked as long as the child is not harmed). I feel like it is safe to say the country was not prepared for the large numbers of children placed at the islands.  The orphanage that has a one-on-one relationship with the adoption agency we used for Joel received approximately 3 children a day.  After 5 months they suspended the island due to lack of staffing and resources at the orphanage.  There just wasn't enough space, workers and funds for all the new children.  All God's Children helped the orphanage add 2 nannies this year and continues to help through assisting with paperwork, encouragement and prayer.  The goal is to get the government to help with the salaries for these new Nannies that the orphanage has had to hire.  We are so proud of the orphanage staff and how they have rallied to care for these children.  But now what? 
Well, these children will be cared for medically, physically and emotionally to the best of the orphanage staff and social welfare's ability.  They will also follow the protocol to try and find their birth family.  If and when the process of finding the birth family fails then these children will become adoptable.  It has been overwhelming watching this unfold and our hearts break for all of the children.  
God has given me a deep compassion for these children and a desire to have them all a loving forever family and to know the love of our Heavenly Father and be adopted into His family.  I have prayed for each child and for the Nannies that are now charged with their care.  I can only imagine the stress the staff is under as they see the number of children increase so dramatically.  I pray for the birth parents as they have had to make such a hard decision and for many of them this was the only way to give their child hope.  I am overwhelmed but I know this is where I have a choice.  I can either be so overwhelmed with the daunting task that has been presented to me or I can do something.I choose to do something.  I was created to move and move is what I will do.  
Our Agency has asked for help in several areas.
1.     Prayer: Can you pray for China?  Pray for the Children that are in the orphanage. Pray for the orphanage staff.  Pray for the government as they try to figure out a better way.  Pray for the birth parents.  Pray for more families (in country and internationally) to step forward to adopt.
2.     Help in Orphan Care: AGCI provides some orphan care in China. They have been involved in several different projects of the years.  The project depends on the current need. You can follow the link and see the current needs there.
3.     Adopt. Well, you know I was going to go there. The China program with AGCI is currently accepting applications into the program.  This is a hard decision and should not be taken lightly.  I do not think everyone should adopt but I do think everyone should ask themselves, "What should I be doing?" I have looked into the eyes of the fatherless and for Ethan and I the excuses we have to tell children, NO are really not good.
4.     Support Adoption. For those who do not adopt there is still a great need to support adoption.  Families that adopt need to be bathed in prayer, emotional support, and sometimes financial support.  When they bring their child home there are a ton of different ways to support them. Meals brought to them (one of my favorite), gift cards, diapers, prayer, helping out with siblings, more prayer, sweet encouragement through letters, cards, emails and texts and more prayer.
So I think you know where I am going now.  Ethan and I have asked ourselves, "What do you want us to do?", "How do you want us to respond?" and the answer for us is clear and hard.  

We are excited to announce that we are expecting from China!  This is another step in faith.  When bringing Joel home we knew we would probably go back.  We are praying for our child that God has for us, we are asking for His will and not our own.  To answer some of your questions. We have just started this process and we have a way to go.  We are in the special focus program.  We don't have a preference of gender, boy or girl doesn't matter to us.  The kids are super excited.  Ethan and I are nervous. Joel kinda understands.  I am not sure how we will do it.  We will fund raise this time around as well.

  • August 8th I will host a Noonday Party where 10% proceeds will go to our adoption.  You can order online with my Noonday ambassador Tesney Davis the Party will be the Blankenship Adoption (I think).
  • On August 30th I will have a Boston Butt Sale.  We will be using the same gentleman we used for our last adoption, so you know how good they are.  We are selling them for $30 Get them before they are gone you can email me for information at with the subject line Boston Butt Fundraiser.
  • We have also started a Go Fund Me. Here we can accept donations to our adoption.  

So excited for this journey and to take our family and friends with us.  


Friday, July 11, 2014

I remember,

I remember that day.  It was a long day but a day I had been waiting for long time.  I had worked for months to get to this place and here it was 2 am as I slipped out of bed dawned my running gear and headed to the start line.

I was nervous and second guess myself as I realized I was pretty much alone.  I had only meet some of the other Rett Moms just a few days ago.  I found myself crossing the starting line and reminding myself that I can and will do this.  My motto had been "Failure is not an option." I ran the first 7 miles with out stopping.  After a quick pit stop I continued on full of energy and adrenaline.  I was doing this.  I felt great. I will finish.  By mile 11 I could feel it in my calves.  People were slowing down and dodging the masses of people was starting to take it is toll on me.  But my spirit never wavered.  I ran on. I knew that i would be done in approximately 20 minutes but kept on telling myself 30.  I stopped at the 12 mile mark and took my picture and then the last mile.  It was hard and it was getting hot. I was finding that all of this mile was a bottle neck after bottle neck which slowed me down.  I thought about just walking this last little bit but this cast member was clapping and looked me in the eye like she knew where I was and said, "Do you hear that? It is the finish line." She was right if I concentrated I could here the crowd. I could feel the emotions welling up in my throat which makes it very hard to run and breath. I can't stop the tears.  I. HAVE. DONE. IT. It is like a movie in my mind as I think of all of the people who helped me get to this point.  Who gave in honor of Korinna and then I see the finish line, the people and I think of her.  I did this for her.
I find myself at the Girl Power to Cure tent getting my picture made with Korinna's picture.  I look up and see him.  My support, my rock and my partner.  He has brought ALL of the kids to great me.  I hug and the kids remind me that I am sweaty and sticky.  We enjoy the fellowship with other people and families that have been affected with Rett Syndrome.  And this happened. At 0.24-0.35 I am doing everything I can to overcome my emotions and keep my composure.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

To the nurse in in Joel's orphanage

I had something else to say. I have been blogging the happenings of Joel's surgery but then we hit a speed bump and as I sat there looking at my miracle on that hospital bed, it all made since and I had something I needed to make right so here I am.
Dear nurse at Joel's orphanage, 
I had no idea what you went through with my son. I lay here tonight gazing at him on a hospital bed covered with wires and it all makes since. 
You see that day I met you in the orphanage I was a little overwhelmed with your emotion over Joel. You cried and grieved over him leaving. You followed me around the orphanage making sure my translator let me know that Joel needed to take his meds and needed another surgery. The lady from the special care unit pulled me aside and shared with me that you were the one who went with him to Shanghi for his 2 surgeries. I was moved by your selflessness but also thought it was a little odd. Let me ask for your forgiveness. I had no idea.
I had no idea what you went through. The waiting alone is mind boggling but coming into a room with that dark headed beauty laying on the bed with wires and tubes everywhere. Medical staff moving around him like a scene out of a made for TV drama. Blood pouring out of tubes. Consulting physicians and the sheer volume of tests. I just didn't realize how much of yourself you gave. You gave him everything. Everything I couldn't and until today while I was moved by it and respected it. I never understood it.
Nurse at Joel's orphanage, there was this moment when the surgeon was summoned and they made a call right there in front of me to take him back to the OR. Something wasn't quiet right and they needed to go back in. You know what?  I was like a deer in headlights. My insides were yelling, No! But all I could do was stare wide eyed. How did you do this!? How did you give it all knowing he was going away? 
Then they returned him AGAIN! And he looked so handsome. Truly a picture of Asian perfection. Those sleeping eyelids, that dark hair, the cheeks, the curve of his chin and strong mouth. I'm sorry I didn't understand your grief that day. I sat there thinking about you tonight. Tonight we took your place. I prayed for you. I grieved for you. I thanked God for you. Because tonight I understood you and tonight you showed me what it was like to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Tonight I realized, and I pray you do to, that you gave me and example of God's lavish love. Giving it away with such reckless abandonment. Just like him giving us His perfect lamb, Jesus.
It has been an incredibly long day. He will wake up soon. I will cry. I have cried all day. But I need you to know that I will lean over and whisper your name in his ear letting him know that you love him. Because without your love I couldn't be here with my son. Without your love I couldn't have learned more about the Father and His love. And for that I am eternally grateful.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Scoliosis Repair day 3 and 4

Uuggghhhh! In case you every wonder a hospital is busier at night. I decided at 10 that I really needed to give "rest " a good college try.  I would start drifting off only to be aroused by someone coming in, Korinna uncomfortable, or by someone coming in, and someone coming in. 
Rin's pain manage plan was a lot better generally speaking but we were having trouble with her not wanting to take deep breaths and holding her breath. That in turn would send her oxamerter into a frenzy with her O2 saturation diving and her hear rate rising. With the help of a wonderful nursing staff we finally deduced that she has a soar side. Most kids who have this spinal fusion do. Usually the side they had to manipulate the most. Guess what side that is, Rin's right side. Guess what side she was crying in the PICU, the right side. Guess what side she was panting on? The right side! These little things that could have been so easily fixed if she could have just had the ability to say, "Mom, that side hurts more." makes me loco. Such a simple fix and yet for her she has to wait out the dodo bird parents until they can figure it out. 
We finally got a couple of hours of rest in somewhere between 3-5. Ethan came in to relieve me and I headed back to the hotel room. I really thought I would get a shower and take a nap but that didn't happen. I did get shower but then I ended upon the phone for a while. I cleaned up the room and got my things together and headed back over. 
I was mad when I got to the room and realized I had missed her doctor coming in and changing her dressing. The doctor had also given us some goals to reach. He wanted Korinna to sit in a chair, he wanted her to show us that her GI tract was moving. (Read betweens the line)  and then if she gets a fever we have to do chest therapy. 
She tolarAted the moving and sat in a chair for a long time. When I left to go home we were in high hopes that everyone would get some rest. I was wrong.
When I called back up to the hospital Sunday morning Ethan sounded exhausted. They had both had zero sleep. Korinna had cried all night long and was not resting. By the time I got to the room at 10:30 it was obvious Ethan was barely keeping his faculties due to the exhaustion and Korinna looked weepy and sad. I relieved Ethan and then settled in for a hard day. Lots of tears, lots of just being unhappy. At 5ish we saw the doctor again who reminded me that there is a phase of just extreme exhaustion and crankiness. Well, we are there! He was happy with all the progress especially from her GI "movement" and we started her back on foods. Yes, yes you are correct she hasn't eaten for real since midnight Thursday. 
She handled the feeding well and has rested soundly since then. I think we might have just turned a corner. I hope we have. I am ready to see her happy eyes and mischievous grin.

My set up. You can't see but there is a chocolate bar and sweet tea beside the chair.

Our view. This picture does not do it justice. We have a gorgeous view of Vulcan and the sun rises right over him. Spectacular though this morning it was lack luster due to the clouds.

My sweet patient. Her thoughts are, "just leave me alone and don't touch me. "

Friday, October 25, 2013

Scoliosis Repair Day 2

Waking up this morning I could barely move. I was still in the same position had fallen asleep in. So stiff but so rested. We had made the decision to have a room at the hotel next to the hospital. E had checked us in after we got to the PICU, gotten us dinner and returned to the PICU. I left him and headed to the hotel at 7 something and made a few phone calls took a bath and collapsed In the bed. It was still dark when I woke up the at 5:45. Even after over 8 hours of sleep I contemplated going back to sleep. I was all to aware though that E had not had the rest I had so I started getting dressed to head back to my baby girl.
When I walked out the door I grabbed my Starbuck's gift card. Last night when returning to the room E had left me a Starbucks gift card and note. 
-Back off ladies, I'm keeping him. - 
The cool air that greets me this morning seems more refreshing than yesterday. The walk was nice and the pumpkin spice latte was perfect for this mornings chill in the air. I walk into Rin's room with a very bleary eyed 11 year old and a sprawled out hubby who definitely didn't sleep well. The nurse brings me up to speed with the evenings activities. Rin had a low grade fever. Not uncommon but the sent off cultures to make sure. She has also started waking up more around 2. Those meds from the OR had if finally left her sweet body. This is good but that also means she is more aware of her pain and discomfort. I can tell just from her eyes and the way she glares at me she is already over this place. I relieve Ethan and give him his coffee. That room a short crosswalk away will welcome him soon and the he can rest (and do a little work )
I settle down to watch the sun rise over the Vulcan and wake up the city of Birmingham. 
The events from today were pretty low key. Rin was struggling with getting comfortable and as the morning melted away to the afternoon it was obvious we needed to up her pain management. She has started crying a little and when our nurse warned her they were going to roll her over to her other side she immediately started crying. We started her back on the Valium at that point and she seemed to settle down.
We wait again. I color and I am finally able to break Ethan down and get him to play Uno. We have orders for a room on a regular floor but a bed has not opened up for us yet. So we wait again.
I decided to return my pager from the OR just to have something to do. As I drop it on the counter I hear my name and see a familiar face. A  mom and friend from my daughters preschool class is here and waiting in her son who is in the OR.  We were so glad to see one another and we shared a sweet moment. We are both going to be on the same floor for recovery except they get to leave tomorrow and we won't. 
After returning to the room we were ready to transport to a regular room. Rin slept through the whole transport. After settling we were able to see her Dr. 
Everything is going as planned and then he reveals tomorrow's goals for her. He also gives us the consequences of any small complications. Tomorrow is going to be rough. It is time to start making her move a.k.a. Walk and sit up. It should be very hard for Rin tomorrow and I don't think any of us are looking forward to it. 
We have one last visitor from Ethan's cousin who works in the hospital. It was fun to see him. Dinner for us and then E heads to the hotel and I assume my shift on a functional but not comfortable couch in a room were disturbances are at least every hour. Less beeping, less emergency but that doesn't = more rest.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Scoliosis Repair Surgery day

I was so confused when the alarmed sounded. Once regaining my wits I knew the count down was on. Korinna could not eat past midnight so we set our alarms to go off so that we could turn the pump for her overnight feed off. I head to her room where she is sleeping so peacefully and power down the pump, clamp, flush and remove the extension tube. I'll finish cleaning up when I wake up to get ready.
The second alarm doesn't bring confusion but immediately brings knots to my stomach. It is time and I don't want to do this. Getting dressed, last minute packing, getting Rin ready are all emotional for me. I don't want to do this. We head out the door into a very cool morning. We ride in silence most of trip. Rin sleeps peacefully. I don't know why but the darkness, cold and fog seem so appropriate this morning. There is a battle raging in my mind and constant rambling.
I don't want to leave her. Yet, it will be nice to see her sit up straight. I can't believe she will bare another scar all because of the fight with Rett Syndrome. I used to think scars on guys were cool and mysterious and macho. Now I am sad that the sweet skin that I have watched grow will now be marred again. Stupid Rett Syndrome. She has the best surgeon. He is known for his ability in the OR. They better take care of her. I wish I could be with her. I wish could do this for her. I'm glad I brought extra socks. I think that these shoes might get old after 12 hours. 
We pull into the parking deck and my stomach is crazy. I'm disgusted at myself when I go to put on lipstick. I'm about to send part of my heart into surgery and I stop for lipstick. E already has her in her chair strapped in and walking off. He is moving faster than me. That is unusual he is a slow and steady wins the race kinda guy. I have got to pull it together. Entering the hospital creates in me a huge sigh. Melancholy. 
For 5:30 am the waiting room is packed with families and their little ones. Registration is quick and they warned me that it would be. We were told Spinal surgeries are first.  Rin sleeps peacefully. 
Back in triage we do vitals, answer a ton of questions, ask a ton of questions and meet with all of the people that will be her team in the OR. It starts, my eyes keep leaking. Hearing my husband pray over her brings peace. My partner, my friend speaks words of truth as he lifts up our sweet daughter to the great Physician. I can do this. I will live in His strength not my own. 
I  am thankful she wakes up enough to smile for us and reassure us that she is ok. She was scared last night when I prayed with her. 
As we walk her down the the hallway to the OR I am scrambling to control something, anything. I become obsessed with the blanket we brought with us. "Should I take the blanket we brought? Can it go back with her? I'm just worried about her being cold." I know that the lady thought I was crazy. She comforts me by offering to bring it out to me. Then it was time to say our goodbye's. I didn't even know if I could make an audible sound. With all the strength I could muster and with a shaky voice I squeek out "I love you" and kiss her on the cheek. E's voice never waivers " I love you princess". 
Now we wait.
1 hour later we receive our first update. She has been put to sleep, central line placed, intubated and positioned properly for the surgery. The nurse says it is all like the doctor wants it. She will call back in an hour.
2hours in and we get another
 update. All is well. And now we wait again.
I paint my nails. I color in my coloring book (don't judge me) and I beg E, to no avail, to play Uno. More waiting.
3 hours: we receive another update.  All instruments are in place. (A.k.a. Metal roads and screws) they will be another hour or hour and a half. Now we have E's parents here and Colby and Kathryn. We talk and I enlighten the Colby and Kathryn on old circa 1970 Saturday Night Live episodes. We have checked on the kids and they are all surviving. We wait.
By this point we are the only family still here from this morning. I have seen four different waves of patients coming in for surgery. We are all the same. They call out your last name from a door. And the parents are pointed to a phone on the wall to receive your update. Your lifeline to your child. 
 I get up and instead of pointing to a ringing phone we are told to go the conference room and the doctor will come see there. 
It is over! Yahoo! After seeing the surgeon we are confirmed that this was the right decision for us. Waiting would have been very bad and a lot more complicating. We can see her in 3 hours.
For the first time all day I can finally take a deep breath. So thankful and ready to move to the next step. E's parents leave and we eventually go grab something to eat. 
I can't tell you how beautiful that sounds. The lady behind the desk has a big booming voice that reminds me of my highschool cheerleading coach whose voice projecting was so loud and so strong it could penetrated concrete blocks and the lengths of basketball courts. No one could every say they didn't hear her and this lady is no different. 
I grab my bag and then yell behind me to grab the other stuff but then I get so excited knowing that I am seconds away from seeing her. I drop my purse in the floor and blurting out that Colby will have to get it. E never rushes. I see through the door is her bed and she is there peeking out from underneath a blanket. Her eyes are swollen her lips are so full from being intubated. Again the tears start streaming down my cheeks. E finally appears and we start the transport to the PICU. I am asked to leave her but this is so temporary. Only minutes till we can be reunited. 
Doctors, nurses, scrubs, monitors beeping, Rin sleeping, long coats, short coats, paperwork, orders, talking, mommy relaxing just a tad, tons of wires, IV lines, dried blood, trying to make her move, fielding developmental questions, alarms, draining tubes, trying to get her to wake up for just a seconds, stitches, rolling over on a schedule and general sensory overload. This is our home for the next 24 hours. 
 Thank you for all of the text and messages. We haven't been able to answer them all but we have read them. 
I am blogging on my phone so I have no idea how this will look when posted or how many typos, punctuation issues are here. Plus I have been up since 3 so grace and mercy would be appreciated.