Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Jesus, AKA Chicken

After breakfast this morning, Elias crawled up into my lap to read a story from our favorite book, The Jesus Storybook Bible. We were reading the story of Jesus' birth and got to the part where the angel Gabriel appears to Mary.

The book reads...

The God who flung planets into space and kept them whirling around and around, the God who made the universe with just a word, the one who could do anything at all- was making himself small. And coming down... as a _______.

I was reading this with great gusto and at this point I paused so that Elias could participate and fill in the last word. He promptly said...


Oh I laughed so hard. "Baby" would have made a normal end to that sentence, but "chicken" sure did give us a good laugh.

(I figured out later that there was a rooster in the picture on that page so that's what Elias' mind was thinking about.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

FOUR Years Old

Elias is FINALLY four! He has been talking about being four ever since he turned three, asking me everyday if his birthday is here yet. After months with the DAILY (no exaggeration!) questions about his birthday, I eventually told him his birthday would happen around Christmas and when it is cold outside.

Well one early day in September we walked into Walmart and Elias screamed, "My birthday is here!!!" I was confused until I looked up and saw Christmas trees in the store. So the last 3 months have been a looong wait as Elias has seen Christmas stuff everywhere but it wasn't really his birthday yet.

Needless to say, he was the most ecstatic boy I'd ever seen about being four. At church that morning he even waved to people with just his four fingers. A sneaky announcement to the world about his special day.

We had a birthday party at our house with family and friends. It was wild and fun! He loved opening presents. Surprisingly his favorite gift of them all was a pair of shoes. Not just any shoes though- SKETCHERS. That light up!

So for now, the Sketchers is what we hear about all day long and I'm sure as soon as that obsession wears off then we'll start right into counting the days until he turns five.

Pin the Wheel on the Car

Decorating Car Cakes
Too excited to show his face during the birthday song

Putting on those new shoes
Our four-year-old BIG boy

Friday, December 12, 2008

Dossier is 8,483 miles away

Remember that blue folder? Well, we just got news today that all of its contents are now assembled into our dossier and on their way to Ethiopia! This is great news as it means we are officially on the waiting list for a child.

Of course that also means the wait just got a little harder. Ugh.

We really hope to adopt an amputee child again, and we are prepared to wait longer for that to happen. Our agency director told me back in 2005 that the Ethiopian government doesn't think amputee children will be adopted so they aren't released into the orphanages or care centers very often.

Just as there was a plan with Elias, we are confident that there is with this child as well. We know that God will bring us together with him or her at exactly the right moment, and not a day later. And that brings us great peace!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Advent Conspiracy

I've seen this "Advent Conspiracy" phrase floating around lately and had no idea what it meant. Just found out. And I love it! The video is great. Totally expresses my heart and thoughts this season.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Arm Amputee

Chase has been working with a new patient recently who lost his arm in a work accident. His prosthetic arm is top of the line and Chase and the patient even went to FL for a few days in September to get training on the arm.

One of the Austin news stations came out to film the patient and Chase working together with the new arm. It's an inspiring story! You can see the news special here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Halloween 2008

Sorry I'm so late in getting these pictures posted!

We had a hard time coming up with a Halloween costume. Elias wanted to be supermanbatmanspiderman. By the time I got my act together and started looking for costumes, most stores were already selling costumes at clearance. And this was three weeks before Halloween! Apparently people get all crazed out about Halloween when the economy is bad. Seriously. I saw that on CNN.

So I thought of Bob the Builder and knew Elias would love it, but I would have to convince him a little. So I had a great strategy... I pulled up the internet and Elias looked at pictures of Bob the Builder online. Then he played a few Bob the Builder games, we read a BTB story and at the height of his enjoyment, I sprung the big question.

"How would you like to be Bob the Builder for Halloween?"

He was ecstatic.

And I was relieved.

Bob the Builder goes to party at preschool
Bob the Builder comes home from school, ready to play but quickly falls asleep on the job.

Warm-up run before "truck" or treating
(he seriously thinks that's what it's called)
Bob the Builder has an identity crisis and "arrrs" like a pirate
At the church festival with Uncle V and Aunt Meg
A great family night!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The blue folder

A blue folder. Doesn't mean much to most. Pretty nondescript. Good logo. Plain.

But it's the inside that's exciting. It's filled with lots and lots and lots of paperwork that we get to complete for our next adoption!

I'm weird in that I actually enjoy filling out forms and working on administrative stuff. So it's not that big of a pain to me. Time-consuming? Check. A little confusing? Check. Monotonous? Check. Major financial commitment? Check.

But every time I see that blue folder sitting on the table or the bed or the counter or wherever it ends up around the house as we work on its contents, I feel a thrill and excitement about this next adventure that God has for us.

That folder reminds me so much when we went through this process to adopt Elias. At the time, we were often fearful of so many unknowns that lay ahead of us. The paperwork process seemed challenging and a daunting task. Being parents to a little child across the world who we didn't even know yet seemed impossible.

But then love entered the picture. First through our hearts as we encountered a sweet, tender love in Jesus that we hadn't experienced before. And then as we saw that first little picture of a beaming Ethiopian boy that was to be our son.

And now we get to live life day in and day out with the gift that God had for us that whole time. That reality is a great perspective as we are going through the process for Ethiopian child #2.

So far we're patient, calm, and expectant about all that God is going to do. And in the same breath I can say that we're afraid, hesistant, and wondering how it's going to all work out. But really it's a great place to be and a perfect time to take an honest assessment of priorities and Who and what we put our hope in.

This is long enough already, so here's the skinny on our process so far...

  • We're using AAI again and Lutheran Social Services for our homestudy agency
  • Our first visit with the homestudy social worker is this Saturday. Hopefully the follow-up appointment will be shortly after that and then the homestudy will be finished
  • We've applied for USCIS immigration stuff
  • We hope to be finished with the dossier paperwork (minus the homestudy) this weekend
  • Once the dossier is at AAI and some processing done, we'll be on the official waiting list. We hope this happens in December sometime.
  • We have no idea when we'll receive a referral. Probably a long time from now. In my head I've been thinking a timeframe of traveling to Ethiopia next fall to get our child.
  • We're asking to adopt an amputee child or child in need of an amputation. Just like they told us when we were in the process for the first adoption, there are no amputee children in the orphangae. So we'll just wait and see what God does! It was a miracle that we got Elias and so we know it could happen again.

For quite a while now, Elias has been saying that we're going to adopt a little boy with a baby sister. Who knows?!? Maybe God has already given him the inside scoop. :-)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Shark

Our swimming season is finally coming to a close. In Austin, no one seems to swim anymore when it's a chilly 84 degrees outside.

Elias did GREAT in the pool this year. He's brave and courageous when it comes to trying new things in the water.

We first got to experience this side of him when we were in Ethiopia in 2006. He was quite ill most of the week and very quiet. On the fifth day of our week there, we drove three hours through the countryside of Ethiopia to visit a hot spring area.

As soon as we got into the water, Elias became alive. He smiled, laughed, splashed around and had the time of our life.

It was a sweet glimpse into the true personality of a little boy we knew hardly anything about at the time.

He's still the same today and needless to say, we spent lots of time at the pool this summer.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Update on Sam

Sam is doing better and even smiling and laughing at times! He is so courageous and strong.

His mother Carole wrote the following on their caringbridge site. I was so touched by her words and encouraged by her Godly perspective on this tragedy...

It has been one week since our lives were altered by the accident. Horrific and tragic - yet I won't be using those descriptors again.

Because we have SAM! He's with us. His body has changed forever but he's still got the same spirit and I am seeing him emerge from his sadness and flickers of that little guy who could make me laugh and see red with regularity.

I have been described as strong and such and believe me, it is simply God and prayer. Sam is the one who has been so strong and he's not only fighting this setback, he's starting to shine. I can talk about when he gets new feet/legs and he'll look at me and give his head a shake of affirmation. He is still sad but at times I am too.

So am I mad at God? Heaven forbid, no! Haven't even thought of it. Where was God then? Right there. When I first realized I tried to grab Paul and Mary and get them up the hill to the house. We stopped on the driveway and held hands and I instructed them to pray. And we did. And we asked God to hold little Samuel. And He did.

During the long drive to the hospital (its about an hour) I was of course in shock and for the first part Marty and I drove in silence. I realized that it was grave and that we would very likely experience the horror of losing a child. I admitted that I didn't know what to pray. Sam's injuries were so severe that I felt selfish pleading with God not to take him from me. And yet I thought of Maria Sue Chapman and knew that I didn't care what - I wanted my son. And I was torn. How could he survive and yet, how could he ever function?

So I prayed specifically for Sam to know he was loved and to have peace and to realize he was being held in God's very hand. And that is exactly what happened.

Sam's injuries have altered his body permanently. We still do not know the exact extent - yet he is still our Sam. If I cannot look at his severed limbs and accept, then how can I ever ask for him to? And I have come to realize a couple of things this past week . . .

Sam is beautiful. His legs are beautiful, his arm is beautiful, his colostomy is as well. He is precious and although his legs are now "different" from many others, he is no less precious or loved or worthy. I saw his arm for the very first time today and as the area was being exposed I simply prayed that I could look at this area and see him simply as God did. I could look at his arm and then directly in his face and say . . . hey, it looks great! And I wasn't telling him a lie. He is gloriously and wonderfully made and this accident did not change that.

I live in Wisconsin so I have to put a Wisconsonite spin on it. This accident happened and to quote Brett Farve (during the recent trade request) . . . "it is what it is." I cannot change it. So as a Christian I can rant and wail and lament and lash out, or I can set my shoulders forward and step out in faith in this new direction. We had an accident and God stepped in a swooped up my child and carried us through to a place where Sam is able to begin the healing process.

This is an opportunity. We can either fold up and wither or we can choose to plant ourselves firmly right where we are and decide to aim for blossoming once again.

I have been enriched, embraced and enveloped in the body of Christ through this. How could I think about choosing otherwise?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Pray for Sam

Our hearts are saddened by a recent tragedy in another adoptive family. Sam is Elias' age and was adopted from Ethiopia just five short weeks ago.

He was in a tractor accident last Saturday and his injuries are very severe. He is currently stable, but his condition is still serious and complicated.

Both of his legs are amputed and they are trying to save his arm. He has multiple other injuries as well.

Please pray for Sam, his parents and other siblings. They live in Wisconsin. You can access their caringbridge site here.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Making a Leg PART I: Casting

Daddy Prosthetist is in the process of making a new leg for Elias so I thought it'd be fun to chronicle the process here on the blog.

The process involves several steps. The first step is to cast the residual limb. However in our house, we're very casual in the terms that we use, so rather than using the technical term of residual limb, we say, "Mr. Stumpy".

I should note here that Mr. Stumpy is like his own entity. We say things such as, "Put Mr. Stumpy in your shorts" or Elias may say "I hurt Mr. Stumpy!" We love Mr. Stumpy.

I digress.

First Step: Cast Mr. Stumpy

Elias puts on a special little outfit made out of cotton stockinnette (that's a real word). At this point Daddy Prosthetist affectionately calls him Huck Finn.

Daddy Prosthetist (herein referred to as DP) then smooths out all the wrinkles on Mr. Stumpy's stockinette and makes it as tight as possible.
DP then dips the casting tape in water and begins to wrap it around Mr. Stumpy. This part makes Elias a little nervous because he's afraid it's going to hurt or something. Of course it never does.

The water sets off a chemical reaction with the casting tape and becomes rigid as DP smooths it all with his hands.

After about 5 minutes, the cast becomes rigid enough that it will maintain the perfect shape of our friend Mister Stumpy. (Notice Elias' fan club at the end of the table. Two of his cousins are visiting for a week so they got to tag along).
The cast is now ready to come off. DP cuts off the Huck Finn outfit at the top of the cast then slowly begins to pull the cast off. If it gets stuck it may be necessary to use bandage scissors at the top of the cast to loosen it a bit.

Wha la! A finished replica of Mr. Stumpy!

Stay tuned for the next installment of Making a Leg.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Mom, just go somewhere!

Elias had his first day of preschool this past Wednesday. Buying school supplies, picking out his lunchbox and getting his backpack ready was a huge deal for all of us!

I stuck around his class for about 10 minutes and Elias finally turned to me and said, "Mom, just go somewhere!" I think he was more ready for this than I was.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Celebrities in the house!

Chase has a new patient named Angelina. She's not just an ordinary patient though... she's a horse! Her leg got caught in a barbed wire fence and so the owner called the clinic where Chase works and asked if it would be possible to make the horse a prosthetic leg. So, Chase agreed to take on the special project.

A couple weeks ago a local news crew came out to film the story. Elias and I met everyone out at the ranch so that Elias could meet the horse. Elias was pretty excited about meeting the horse (and the other 20+ horses, 16 dogs, pigs, and goats). Elias stuck right by Angelina's side the whole time, helped put the leg on, and ended up being in the filming as well.

They filmed for hours but the clip is only a few minutes long. Some of the details are wrong, like the name of the company, Chase's title, and a few other things. But camera shots of the horse (and Elias too) are pretty good.

The organization featured in the YouTube video is Hearts and Hooves. It's a great place and the owner, Veronique, is so creative in the way she uses her horses to bring joy and healing to others. As you may have caught in the video, Veronique's goal is to use Angelina as a therapy horse for children and adults who are amputees. Cool!

Once the horse is walking better and actually being used as a therapy horse, the news station plans to do a follow up story.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I'm stuck!

Chase put in a new cat door and so of course Elias promptly decided to try it out. It was easy to stick his head through the little door, but not so easy to get it out!

He cried for help so we got him unstuck , but not before capturing a few photos of course.

This is funny but not very funny. Stop taking my picture and get me out of here!
I'm out and never trying that again!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Is it starting already?

I forgot to add this to the earlier post...

Shortly after the poopy comment, I told Elias to go to the bathroom (he still needs reminders). He kept playing with his car so I told him he needed to leave the car with me and go into the bathroom.

He took in a deep breath, let out a long, deep sigh, looked me right in the eyes and said, "Mom, you just don't understand me."

Deep Thoughts

Not much going on here that's really blog worthy. The last couple of weeks we've had visits from grandparents and old friends and also got to reconnect with friends we haven't seen in years. It's been fun! Elias of course remembers everyone's name and asks about them constantly.

So early this morning I was trying to create some intentional, sweet moments with Elias before our day rushed by us. We read a little Bible story together and then I was holding him. I felt a little sappy I guess, wooed by his big eyes and soft curls. 

"Elias", I said, "you are so special and God has a very special plan for you. What do you think that is?"

Elias thinks for a split second.... "Um... poopy?"

Perfect, three-year-old boy response!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Birfday Message

Interviewer: Today is your Daddy's birthday. Tell me some things about your daddy.

Elias: I like to give him some hugs. I like to give him, um, little hugs. And I like some BIG hugs. And Happy Birfday Daddy! He is a guy and he is a nice guy. And he is a big guy. And I like to work on the workshop with my Daddy. Daddy is a good boy and he is REALLY tall.

Interviewer: Anything else you'd like to say?

Elias: Nah. That's all I have.

Sideways Birfday Message from Elias

Not only is it Chase's 33rd birthday today (our ages are now all 3s- 33, 33, 3), but history was made.... Elias fell asleep on his own. I know, not shocking to most, but he has never ever ever just fallen asleep outside of a required nap time or bed time (except for in the car). Elias just fights sleep as much as he can. Today though the Tour de France had him asleep in 5 minutes...

Friday, July 4, 2008

Summer Pickin'

We've been in East Texas for the last week, keeping Lulo and Papi company as they each recover from major surgeries. It's good to come and spend time where the grass is greener, trees are taller, air is cooler, and time moves a little slower. Most of all it's good to spend time with family.

I took Elias out to pick blackberries one day and then we went back again today. We picked over 15 pounds of berries and are getting ready to enjoy our second cobbler. Yum.

It was the perfect time for picking berries. They were huge, black, juicy and just fell off in your hand. Makes me love summer!

Monday, June 30, 2008


People who meet Elias for the first time often ask me if he is talkative. I usually just smile politely because I'm at a loss for words to even begin to describe how much he really talks. And talks. And talks.

And it's not just talking. It's the questions. Constant questions. 99% of them are not real questions actually (meaning the answer is unknown). They're mostly questions with obvious answers. Such as, "Am I a boy? Are you a boy? Is Daddy a boy?" etc.

On top of that, he almost always asks "What?" after everything someone says. I often respond "You tell me" and he can usually repeat word for word what I said.

So because I'm a dork, today I was pondering how many questions Elias asks in a typical day. Too hard to count. So I thought about narrowing it down to one hour, then ten minutes, and finally decided to do a quick five minute test. As Elias talked, I simply made marks on a piece of paper each time he asked a question.

I should mention that this was over lunch at Taco Bell, which means that he was chowing down on a taco and beans for much of this time. Not that that would slow him down or anything.

(And I should also mention that these results are not very scientific because they were recorded with a half-melted blue crayon that I found in the bottom of my purse onto a crumpled, old receipt.)

So, the final count after five minutes?


Doesn't sound like much, but when you multiply that by 12 to estimate the total questions in one hour, the number is 252.

And if you multiply that by the eleven hours a day that he is awake (2 hour nap and 10-11 hours sleep at night) that comes out to a meer 2,772.

Two thousand seven hundred and seventy two questions in one day.



New crinkle-nose question face

Sunday, June 22, 2008

New Addition

His name is Ruger (Roo-Ger). His presence in our home has certainly kicked things up about 10 notches. But he's a great dog and in the end I think I'll survive and actually enjoy him. :-)

Friday, June 20, 2008

An unfortunate and accidental introduction to jalapenos

We tell Elias all the time to not put things in his mouth without asking us first. For one, he's allergic to just about everything so we don't want him to eat something that will cause a reaction. But of course there's the other logical reason that some things are just not good for him to eat. (Like my secret stash of chocolate chip cookies for example).

We were in the middle of preparing dinner the other night when Elias suddenly started screaming. I looked and his hand was grasping his mouth and tears were pouring out of his eyes. On the counter right above his head was a cutting board with remnants of jalapeno that Chase had been cutting up for salsa. Uh-oh.

We felt so bad for the little guy. We tried everything we could think of to help him, but as everyone knows, relief is only temporary when your lips are on fire from jalepeno.

Finally I started taking pictures of him to distract him and then let him see his picture in the camera like he loves to do. As pitiful as the pictures are, it actually helped to distract him for a while.

In the end Chase gave him a spoonful of sugar and that seemed to do the trick.

I'm sorry he had to learn this lesson the hard way! But now we have some great documentation of his first encounter with an unfriendly little pepper.
(I will add here that I am not being calloused and laughing at my child's pain. I was extremely compassionate and kind at the time. But to be honest, it was just a little funny at the same time. Elias' facial expressions are pretty dramatic but I promise you he wasn't really crying that hard the whole time, but the spice sure did make his eyes water!)
And so I will now share the pics to the masses.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Camping Trip

We have had quite a whirlwind of summer traveling and activity lately. Best of all for Elias is that he has spent more than half of the last month with his cousins. Elias LOVES his cousins!

He spent several days with the cousins while I was in Rochester. Then three of the cousins came to our house in Austin for a few days. Then we all drove back to Dallas and on to Kansas for the Schroeder family reunion. Then all seven of the grandkids stayed with Nani and Papa for the annual Camp NiPaw while I helped my sister paint her house.
We had a few days of separation then met together again at Inks Lake State Park where we camped for the weekend. It was hot, hot, H O T! At least 100 degrees each day. But we had the lake to swim in and park store nearby where we could buy unlimited bags of ice to keep us and our food cooled off.

It's difficult for Elias to walk with his prosthetic leg on uneven terrain, but his new foot helped him tremendously and he was a champ walking up and down hills and over and around big rocks. He had a few spills, but nothing too major.

Chase asked him last night what his favorite part of the weekend was. His answer: "You, me, and Mommy." :-)

Chase hard at work to set up the tent

Hot, exhausted children waiting for dinner to cookMmm. Yummy, campfire-roasted corn.

Nani went to the camp store and returned with cold Sprite for the kids to share. Elias savored every last drop! (It was his first Sprite).

Final family pictures before we all head home.

Elias and Ruger were fast asleep before we even pulled out of the state park.