Saturday, February 7, 2015

A miracle

I don't know who, and I don't know why, but someone has blessed our Reece's Rainbow account with a huge donation.  I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw our balance today.  With the money I'll be getting from my contract work, it means that we're only $2000 short of being fully funded.  We are so incredibly grateful for this generosity.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Yellowstone Invitational

Last weekend, Maizie and Sofie had their second gymnastics meet of the season, the Yellowstone Invitational.  They did great!  Maizie took 2nd on vault, 1st on floor, and 5th in the all-around.  Here are a couple of highlights.  :)  

Travel approval!

On January 29th, we received our travel approval!  We got our first choice consulate appointment of March 10th, but when we discovered how much cheaper flights would be if we waited a week (we're talking $3000+ less!), we rescheduled for the 17th of March.  We're SO excited that the wait is almost over!  We first learned about her on March 11th of last year, so it will be nearly a year to the day when we get her on March 9th.  We feel so incredibly blessed!

Zinnia, here we come!  

I'm just terrible at blogging...

But I'm pretty darn great at doing bulleted, catch-up posts!  Here's another, for your reading pleasure:

  • Christmas was lovely, as always.  Compared to previous years, it felt like the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas lasted approximately 45 seconds.  A lot of our traditions were dropped because there simply wasn't time, but the important things were there - the tree, some gifts, the whole family, goody deliveries, and most of all - our thoughts of the Christ child.  

  • On the very last day of the year, we received some long-awaited photos of Zinnia.  We were so saddened (OK, *I* was so saddened) to see that her foster family decided she needed a drastic haircut to "fix" the nightmare she appears to have inflicted on her own bangs.  I'm reminding myself it's just hair, and it will grow back.  And I'm packing hair bows.  

  • The first week of the new year, we passed another milestone - sending Joshua off to his junior year of college.  He's decided to enter the communication disorders program (proud parents here!) and will be getting a doctorate in audiology.  We hope that he'll come back and join our practice when he finishes.  How awesome would that be?! 
Aw...  Isn't he cute standing in the snow WITH NO COAT?!

  • About this same time, my hair started falling out by the fistful!  I have no idea what was causing it.  We did have a lot going on, but I wasn't feeling particularly stressed and hadn't experienced any of the events that sometimes trigger this type of hair loss (childbirth, anyone?).  I went to the doctor and everything was fine - my thyroid, my hormones, my diet - everything.  I was truly afraid that at the rate it was falling out, I was going to be bald in a couple of months!  I had already lost about 1/3 of my hair, so I decided that cutting about 14" off of it would help it look fuller.  It did, but two weeks later, the hair stopped falling out just as abruptly as it had started.  I'm kicking myself because I liked my long hair, but it grows really fast so it will be OK.  I have new hair growing all over my head that's about an inch long.  Crazy.  

  • January 11 was Thalia's 10th birthday.  I cannot even.  10?!  10??!!  She is such a sweetie!  She loved everything she got - especially her new silvery glitter Walmart knock-off Uggs.  

  • Zoe finally graduated from cosmetology school, so of course we had to attend her graduation ceremony.  By "graduated" I mean she punched out for the last time.  And by "ceremony" I mean we all stood around laughing while we posed with her dummy head and pretended to have it kiss us.  Like I always say, we're a high-class family.  In all seriousness, though, we're very proud of Zoe.  I'm ashamed to say that I used to have a low opinion of cosmetology school as a post-secondary option, but I promise you this girl has worked her hiney off and knows a heckuva lot more chemistry than I could ever cram into my brain!  She plans to move to Idaho, work for a year to get residency, and then start college at ISU. 

On our way to the big punch-out!

She looks thrilled, doesn't she?  The mannequin, I mean - not Zoe.

Punching out for the last time!  
  • Then, oh then, ladies and gentlemen, it was Loundia's SIXTEENTH birthday on January 23rd!  Sixteen, folks!  Like she can go on a date!  Woo hoo!  

    Lily's daydreaming in the background, "I'm going to be 16 next..."
  • Then came January 25th.  It was a hard day.  
    Miss my sweet mom
  • Gratuitous cute dog picture because now I'm sad.

  • In other really exciting news, we received our travel approval for Zinnia on January 26th.  You can read more about that and our travel plans here.  :)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving and other tales

Let me catch you up on the Whicker goings-on from the last couple of weeks.  

Two weeks ago, most of us went to Billings so Cora (who has albinism and is legally blind) could attend a day camp for blind athletes.  She was able to learn some cool martial arts moves, and also finally learned out to play goalball with a bunch of other visually impaired kids.  The people who sponsored the program were kind enough to put the traveling families up in a hotel for the night, so we made the most of it and enjoyed some other activities while there, including a little salon time at Zoe's cosmetology school.  Thalia got her nails done, Beck got his hair rebraided (I'm still unable to braid for long periods due to my dislocated shoulder problems), and Jack got a sweet fade.  ;)  

We also ventured into our ginormous new Scheels for the first time.  We didn't buy anything, but against my better judgment, we rode the indoor ferris wheel.  For the second time that week I was wishing I had a little Valium on my person.  I'm horribly afraid of heights.  And enclosed spaces.  (Having an MRI on my shoulder was the first time that week I was praying for drugs.)  

Last week I took Thalia into Curtis' office to get her ears checked.  I was pretty sure one or both of her tubes was plugged, and it turned out I was right.  We'll wait a couple of weeks and retest her, but we may have to go see the ENT again if the problem persists.  We're in the middle of losing our insurance yet again due to our premiums DOUBLING, so we'll have to wait until we have new insurance in place before delving further into that problem.  We've done our application for a government marketplace plan, and now we just need to choose from one of 40 incredibly expensive options.  Fun, fun!

And then there was Thanksgiving.  I will go on record as saying that it was probably our smoothest Thanksgivings ever.  We actually ate at 3:30.  Stunning.  

We were joined by our missionaries and my sister's in-laws, plus since Zoe and Teffy were here, we had our whole family home for the holiday.  I'm grateful for these moments, because I know after this Christmas, they won't happen very often anymore.  I hate thinking about that, so for now I'll enjoy what I have, which is a freaky fun family that (mostly) makes me happy every day!  

Getting her nails did by big sis

Learning the rules of goal ball

See how calm I look?  You should have seen me 60 feet in the air...

Sofie and Cora

Curtis and Beck

Getting Thalia's ears checked

The hearing test

Thanksgiving - the grown-up table edition

Heavenly pumpkin cheesecake made by my cute sister

Our yearly tradition of spraying Curtis with whipped cream was carried out by my sister's mother-in-law.  He had no idea it was coming! 

Defending herself against retaliation!

Sofie goes down! 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Lots of Astronauts?
Legs of Ants?
Little Old Apricots?
Lasting Outer Armor?
Lilliputians on Amoxicillin?

No, no - it's Letter of Seeking Confirmation of Adopter!

Wait, what?  That can't be right...  That'd be LOSCOA!

Whatever it is, I have it in my hot little hands, and it means we're that much closer to getting Zinnia home.  We've signed it and we're sending it to our agency and mailing our I-800 tomorrow, and then we'll wait not-so-patiently for our TA - Taco Aerospace Travel Approval.  Cool, huh?

If you think that's nifty, how about this?  We have some dear friends who moved away from our town several years ago, and it just so happens that through some crazy twists and turns, they are also adopting from China, also a child with Down syndrome, also with the same agency, and also at the same time.  They received their LOA too, and our agency has told us we'll probably travel together!  We're all pretty danged excited.

So remember that nice weather we had for Halloween?  Yeah, it's gone.  Our dogs are enjoying snow for the first time, as is one of the speech pathologists I'm currently supervising (she's from the Philippines so it's all new to her).  I don't have a picture of her frolicking in the snow, though I'm sure she did - she strikes me as a frolicker, but here's one of the dogs.  I can't get enough of their cuteness!

On Saturday, our kids had their voice and piano recital.  Our teacher is great, and all the kids did a nice job.  Unfortunately the camera wasn't rolling when Beck played, so we made him play his piece again at the end of the recital.  He happily obliged, but now that the recital is over, I hope I never hear that particular rendition of Jingle Bells again.  Like as long as I live.  Bless his heart, he practiced, but oy - I just can't.

 Yesterday, I had an MRI on my shoulder so my doctor can determine whether I need surgery.  I TOLD my doctor I am EXCEEDINGLY claustrophobic.  My first MRI almost landed me in the funny farm.  I insisted on sedation for the second.  I managed.  So based on experience (no sedation=bad, sedation=good), I asked for the good stuff again.  I was prescribed diazepam, and dutifully took it 30 minutes before my appointment.  As the time approached, I started to get worried that I wasn't feeling any differently.  The rad tech told me I should have had 10 mg, 1 hour prior, so she tried to slow things down to allow the medication to kick in.  It didn't.  I'll jump ahead a bit here to tell you that when I got home, I looked at the bottle and saw that I was given was one milligram.  One.

Anyway, we tried to get me into the tube, and I lasted about 10 seconds before sheer panic set in.  I was extricated quickly, and commenced sobbing/apologizing for my irrational behavior.  The tech suggested I come back later for full anesthesia, but I couldn't bear the thought of this already expensive procedure (remember that $15,000 deductible of ours?) becoming even more so.

So, I asked the tech to call my husband over from his office.  He came right away, and I asked him to give me a blessing.  He did, and as he spoke, I felt peace and calm wash over me.  We went back in, and even though I had some serious reservations, I was able to do it.  30 minutes I spent in that mouse hole.  I feel panic just thinking about it.  But I did it because God blessed me to be able to stand it.  Cool, huh?

So today we had something fun happen.  Two missionaries showed up at our house to make dinner.  For real!  They made fry bread that Elder M (right) learned to make while serving on a reservation.  We topped them (the bread, not the missionaries, although that would have been funny) with chili, lettuce, tomato, cheese and sour cream.  I wish this would happen more often.  ;)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The shame...

There's almost nothing I hate worse than finding a blog I like (usually cooking related) and having the author seemingly fall off the face of the earth.

 I'm ashamed that I'm that person.

 I have such good intentions, but life - my crazy big life - just does its thing and pretty soon a month has gone by and I find my poor little neglected blog, sulking in the corner. I don't know how many times it can keep on forgiving me.

 Anyway... October was a good month. Having Joshua home is so cool. I love hearing him sing and play guitar, and it's been fun to see him interacting with his siblings again and watching him adjust to "civilian" life. He's been accepted to BYU in January, so he's been busy making plans for yet another big transition.  It's not that I want an adult son living in my house forever, but I will be sad when he leaves.

 October also brought us our new dog, Clover - the sweetest little sheltie you ever did see. She and Rocket spent two days trying to kill each other, but once they got all that out of their systems, they're now the best of friends. Clover seems to be a tad perplexed about this crazy notion that peeing should take place OUTDOORS, so I've been more grateful than usual for wood and tile floors. I can't be mad about her mistakes. She's simply too freaking adorable.

I've been working quite a bit, and I'm mostly enjoying it.  Even though it's hard to be away from my responsibilities at home, I just keep thinking about the fact that my paycheck will help get Zinnia home from China.  I'm grateful that I can work during the school hours so that I'm home when all the kids are here.

And then there was Halloween - my most loathed holiday.  We did the obligatory trick-or-treating with the littles, then stuck a big bowl of candy on the porch with strict instructions to visiting goblins not to be too greedy, and then we headed out to a basketball game at the college.  Much more fun than sitting at home answering the doorbell 5000 times.  We came home to a single Snickers bar in the bowl.  Either we planned well, or some stinkpot teenagers wiped out the stash in the first 5 minutes.  In which case we're lucky we didn't get egged or something.  I call it a win all around.

So.  Pictures.  Enjoy.

Making posters for the airport


Our first glimpse


Reuniting with the first companion

Grandpa Whicker



Meeting new Grandma Kathy

Meeting other new Grandma Kathy

With Grandpa Thorley

At Lagoon

Attending General Conference with our whole family - a dream come true!

Joshua ran into these girls from his mission

And then he met up with his good friend from home!

Waiting for the prophet, yo

Beck and Thalia's baptism day
Post-baptism Mexican pig-out

All the grandparents
Lily on her 15th birthday

Sweet Clover the night she arrived

Clover and Rocket get acquainted

Thalia's favorite activity (swinging, not drawing)

At a corn maze with the fam

Riding the train at the corn maze

Joshua.  On Halloween.  Otherwise this would be weird.