Monday, December 29, 2008

3 Words

15 years ago, I said 3 words that changed my life.

"I Love You"

And the person I said them to knew that the next words would be:

"Will You Marry Me?"

As I was growing up, I had a sweet Bible teacher during my teenage years. Her name was Mrs. Jones. She grew up in Syria, had come to the US as a teenager, had attended Moody Bible Institute, then married Mr. Jones and moved to South Texas to become a farmer's wife. Mrs. Jones drilled into us as teenagers to never tell a girl you loved her unless you can follow it up with "will you marry me?" She told us this would protect our hearts and keep us from ever leading a girl on about our intentions. She taught me many things about the Bible, but those words I never forgot and made a deep impression on me.

So, on that December night, in front of both of our parents and family, I got down on one knee and told the most beautiful girl in the world that I loved her, wanted to spend the rest of my life with her, wanted her to marry me and be the mother of my children (we never knew it would be this many). And, (after she squealed), she said "YES!"

So, 15 years, 5 boys, and 7 dogs later, I still want to say to the most beautiful girl in the world,

"I love you!"


Saturday, December 27, 2008

4 Dogs and the Cast of "Finding Nemo"

In addition to Quita, our golden retriever, we are currently keeping Star, a lab/border collie mix, and Mulligan, a 5-month old Shih Tzu. And we are getting visits from Meg, a geriatric golden. Fortunately, everyone is well-behaved and potty-trained. But if you ring the door bell, it may sound like the city pound here.

Mulligan is about as cute as they come - and we are definitely getting our puppy fix. Mulligan loves Titus and thinks she is one of the big dogs when they are in the back yard.
And, on top of that, the boys got a 40 gallong salt-water aquarium for Christmas. We now have 2 clown fish, Marlin and Nemo (of course), a large Tang (like Dory but gray instead of blue), a blue damsel, a rabbit fish and a very long snowflake eel (which eats frozen shrimp). We have spent the last few days learning all about saltwater reef aquariums. Now, we are on the hunt to upgrade our light so we can grow coral. I'm not really sure who is more excited about the fish - me or the boys.

And last of all, Titus either has a small cold, allergies, or he's teething. He's had a lot of secretions the last couple of days (thank goodness for the suction machine) and he's been running a slight fever off and on. It could be teething since that would be normal for most kids teething, but then with our Texas weather, it could be allergies. It was 83 degrees yesterday and we had to turn on the AC since it got so hot in the house. In the last two weeks, we have had temps below 20 with ice on the road, to rain, to winds so hard it will blow you down. But either way, Titus is happy and growing. He was almost 19 lbs at his checkup this week. And, the boy needs another haircut. This child can grow hair faster than any one I've ever seen.

Christmas Images

Before we start taking everything down, I thought I would post a few pics of Christmas at the house. Plus, I had forced amaryllis bulbs late this year and didn't think they would bloom in time for Christmas, but lo and behold, they bloomed on Christmas day.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Jesus

The stockings are hung and filled.

The carols have all been sung.

And all my boys are under one roof tonight and in bed.

This year is so different than last. In fact, Becky and I remember very little about last Christmas except for spending the afternoon in the NICU with Titus.

But this year is different. All of us went to the Christmas Eve CandleLighting Service - and Titus even preached a little during the sermon. And all of us will be here in the morning when Santa visits, gifts are opened, and fun is had.

So, to all of you, Merry Christmas! Have a wonderful day tomorrow celebrating our Saviour's birth.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I Am Second

Life can be crazy . . .
Life can be busy . . .
Life can be scary . . .

But, Life can be good.

When I reflect back on the past year, I don't think there is anyway I could have survived without knowing that I am second. There were days I only wanted to think about me, take care of me, satisfy me. And, honestly, there were days I did. But circumstances kept putting me back in my place and on my knees.

Let's face it, being second takes work. It's hard putting God first. My personal nature would much rather take that spot.

But, it is amazing how God has a way to put all things in perspective and make you realize that the best place for me to be is second. Second to a little baby in a manger, Second to Holy of Holies, Second to the Creator, Second to the "I AM".

Last night, Titus was a little fussy around 1am. And, I couldn't sleep, so I went in his room and scooped him up and settled down into his rocking chair. I wrapped him up in his blanket, and kissed his forehead. Titus reached his hand out and stroked my arm - knowing by touch it was his father. He then grabbed my finger and went to sleep . . . a peaceful, deep sleep. And I thought, that's being second. Submitting to the touch of his father, wrapping his tiny hands around his father's finger, and resting . . . knowing that it was the safest, warmest, happiest place he could be.

I need to do the same . . . submitting to the Father's embrace.

If you live in Dallas, I'm sure you have seen the bill boards with the words "I Am Second". A friend of ours has developed this incredible website - I encourage you to check it out.

And live your life striving for second.

In 2nd Place,

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thursday Update

Titus is doing great. Becky brought him home Tuesday afternoon - and fortunately, the roads had cleared of ice and she made it home with no problems. Lisa, our day nurse, was there immediately and took care of Titus so Becky could get some sleep - and stayed till Vanessa, our night nurse, got there.

Titus is back to his happy self - you would never know that he had surgery on Monday. He has a tiny scar behind his left ear that is not noticeable.

The main question is - "can he hear?", but we will not know that for 3 weeks until the turn on the device and he gets his receiver to where over his ear. As you can imagine, we can't wait for the day.

And, please pray for our two oldest, Aidan and Noah. They have spent the week in Colorado skiing and playing in the snow this last week and will be coming home tomorrow. We have missed them tremendously and are anxious to get them home. We pray they have a safe drive home tomorrow.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Out of Surgery

Well - surgery is over. They were running about 2 hours behind schedule today, so Titus didn't go back for surgery for awhile. Although he was pleasant and took a nap for awhile, he was starting to get hungry and fussy. Dr. Bauer told us they had no problems intubating him and prepping him for surgery, adn the surgery itself went beautifully. But, as has happened in the past, extubating Titus afterwards proved to be a bit of a challenge. Titus did his "bronchial clamp" making it difficult to extubate him. But after an hour, they were able to get extubate and move him to post-op recovery.

Due to the late hour, and the issues with extubating, they decided to keep Titus overnight in the hospital. Becky is staying the night with him and will bring him home tomorrow.

Titus has an incision just above his left ear and right now has a huge wad of gauze being held in place with a velcro head wrap. That will come off tomorrow. They have given him some painkiller tonight and they should keep him comfortable.

And, since life is never normal, we have an ice storm hitting Dallas tonight. Just as I was nearing home, the ice and sleet starting falling hard and the roads were getting slick. Now, I know for most people, a little bit of sleet is no big deal. But in Dallas, a little bit of sleet shuts the town down since no one (and I do mean NO ONE) knows how to drive in it.

Pray for Titus tonight - that he sleeps and rests peacefully.
Pray for Becky tonight - that she will get some rest during the night.
And pray that Titus can be released in the morning to come home - and the roads will be clear to drive home from Fort Worth.

Thanks for all the prayers today.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pre-Surgery Update

We are set for tomorrow. Surgery is scheduled at 1pm (CST). We check in at noon in Fort Worth, so we will leave the house around 10:30am. Becky took Titus for all his pre-op checkout last Friday, so we should be good to go once we arrive. The doctors have already planned for Titus to spend the night in the hospital - mainly since surgery is later in the day and his past history, but he's much healthier now than he has been in the past. It would be wonderful to bring him home tomorrow night, but whatever happens, we know he's in the best care.

Dr. Bauer (our ENT) is performing 4 cochlear implants tomorrow and for most kids this is considered day surgery. When you think about it, that's totally amazing that you can sand a spot into your skull, implant a device, go home the same day and a few weeks later, have everything activated that will enable you to hear. But to also think of the technology that will provide my child with the gift of hearing - well, it's mind-boggling.

Titus has had a good weekend and at this very minute, is playing on the floor - cheering the Cowboys on (and at this moment, the Cowboys are winning - let's hope that continues).

Someone asked us this past week if it's hard preparing for surgery. It's always hard, but as Becky told one of the nurses, we love Titus with "open arms". Handing him over and watching them take your child out of the room and into surgery is never easy - I don't think I will ever get use to it. But, it is an exercise in faith. Faith in knowing that God has a plan and this does not take God by surprise. Faith that the doctors and nurses know their job and are the best at what they do. And a peace knowing that we are surrounded by prayers each step of the way.

So, I'll close and provide an update tomorrow once surgery is complete.

God is good!

Tidings of Comfort and Joy,

Paul & Becky

Thursday, December 11, 2008

It Must Be Christmas: Lights, Santa, and Angels

Here are some recent pics of Titus.

Titus loves to play with this string of rope lights.

And, Titus and the boys got to meet Santa this week. Titus wasn't too excited, but the fact that Tucker did not run screaming from the building (as he has done in years past) was a huge step.

And, here's Titus with his new day-time nurse - Lisa. She comes twice a week and along with Vanessa are two of Titus' guardian angels. Our life is so blessed that these two ladies are part of our family.

Monday, December 8, 2008

All I Want for Christmas . . .

We found out this morning that Titus will have his Cochlear Implant surgery for his left ear on Monday, Dec. 15, 2008. Yep - a week from today!

We found out late last month that insurance had approved the cochlear implant, but the surgeon did not have any availability in December. Our insurance at work is changing carriers in January, so we have been praying very hard that a time slot would open up in December. Last Friday, we met with hearing specialist to review the two different brands/styles of implants so we could choose which one to use when surgery is scheduled. We mentioned to the specialist that we were still waiting on surgery date and she mentioned she would discuss with the doctor on Monday morning to see if they could schedule a time in December. Well, the next thing we know, is that we received a call this morning. Surgery will be at Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth. They have told us that it's basically day surgery, but we will see if Titus will need to spend the night or will be able to come home that night.

As an FYI, the cochlear implant consists of two devices: a small receiver that is installed into his skull with a fine wire that wraps around his cochlea and an external receiver/decoder that takes the sounds and translates it. The external device is worn around his ear with a quarter-sized, magnetic attachment that attaches to the internal receiver (which also has a small magnet).

After the surgery, they will wait for 3 weeks before they turn it on and then they will fine-tune it over the next few months.

Needless to say, we are thrilled and are praying that the cochlear will work as designed and provide Titus with the gift of hearing. If all goes as planned, they will do his right ear in 2009. Please pray for Dr. Bauer and his staff as they perform the surgery and that Titus' remain healthy this week.

Titus is growing - he's up to 17lbs and he's truly filling out. His knees are getting chubby! And, if anything, the child can grow a head full of hair. He is already in desperate need of another haircut since his hair is getting in his eyes. He continues to show improvement in therapy. And, he is just the happiest baby to be around.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A is for Aidan, B is for Becky . . .

While having our traditional pancake breakfast on Saturday morning, Tucker and Cade started to show us how they are learning the alphabet.

Cade: "C is for Cade".
Tucker: "T is for Tucker"

I asked them what is mom. They both piped up "B is for Becky".

So, then I asked them "What is P?"

And Tucker spurts out "P is for Pee in the Potty!"

Noah adds "That's what Nana has been teaching them."

Great - with all the P names we have in the family: Paul, PeePaw, Poppy, PawPaw, Patti, you might think the P would stand for one of them. But no, now we know that P is for the potty.

Thanks Nana!

P.S. Titus if feeling much better. His fever stopped yesterday and his breathing continues to improve on the antibiotic. Thanks for the prayers.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Titus has a Virus

Titus has been running a fever for the last week with a lot of increased secretions. We've been to the doctor twice this week - and he put him on an antibiotic on Monday, but now that the fever is continuing, the doctor believes it may be more viral - so we just have to wait it out.

Poor little guy - you can tell he just doesn't feel well, but even with a fever, he's not very cranky. We have increased his breathing treatments to every 3 hours (we were down to twice a day) and started CPT (which we haven't had to do in months). It helps him tremendously on his breathing and loosens all the gunk so we can suction it out, but it's the fever that comes and goes that tires him out.

So, he stayed home yesterday with Meemaw while the rest of us did the Turkey Trot, and then he celebrated his first Thanksgiving at home with the family. We kept flashing back to last year when he was in the hospital at Thanksgiving (and Christmas and New Years). It is so much better having him home.

And, we received his approval from insurance for his cochlear implants for his left ear. They will only do one ear at a time. Since our insurance is changing in January, we are praying he will be healthy soon so we can schedule the cochlear implant in December.

Please pray for these things:
  • Titus' fever will go away
  • His breathing will improve and his lungs will be clear
  • His cochlear implant surgery will be scheduled in December.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Give Thanks

DiscipleNow weekend (or D-Now if your hip) was a blast. We had a good group of 6th grade girls and great leader (Halley from Lake Charles, LA). It is amazing how well behaved they can be when they know the consequence for not behaving is picking up dog poo in the back yard.

Over the weekend, I became the Bible Answer Man for several of their questions. On Saturday morning at breakfast, I was asked if Thanksgiving was a Christian holiday. This led to an interesting discussion (ok - some may say historical dissertation on my part) about the background and significance of the first thanksgiving.

But after all was said, I asked the girls why they say "thank you".

And the responses I got were interesting. All of them said "to be polite".

So, I probed a little deeper - and the secondary response I got was "to be respectful".

Then I asked them what the meaning of the words were. When you say thanks, are you showing gratitude and thankfulness because someone has provided something for you or is it the automatic response that comes out of our mouth because when we were young our parents would hover over us and say "What do you say? . . . What do you say? . . . WHAT DO YOU SAY!!!!" until you squeaked out those 2 words.

Somewhere along the training of the action, we have forgotten to train the moral reason behind the words. And frankly, I was a little surprised that even in 6th grade, these good girls knew the right words, but had not stopped to think about the meaning behind them.

As we enter into a week of thanksgiving, my prayer is my words relay the intent of my heart. I have so much to be grateful for, so much to be thankful for, and just . . . so much.

One last thought about the weekend. It never fails in a gathering like this, there is always one who just speaks a little louder than others, has just a little more knowledge than others, has an opinion more expressed than others and by the end of the weekend, you feel as if your head my explode if you hear one more word. We had one like that. But as the weekend we progressed, we learned she does not come regularly to church and her family chooses not to believe.

But Sunday morning during the worship service, God touched her heart, and at the end of the service, she accepted Christ. And again, I am amazed and grateful of how God works. He still touches the hearts of 6th grade girls who may feel like they already know it all. I pray that her new life in Christ will be wonderful and full of knowledge and thankfulness of the One who made her.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Disciple Now Weekend

As if last weekend was not busy enough with Titus' birthday and 2 Polar Express Parties, this weekend we are hosting 6 6th grade girls for Disciple Now on Friday and Saturday night.

Now, since we are a house full of boys, I'm not sure how it's going to be having a house full of girls all weekend long. As I once said, with boys you get noise, with girls you get drama. I'm sure it will be a drama-packed weekend! But I'm also sure it will be fun.

Please pray for the girls this weekend and their leader Haley. I'm sure God has incredible things in store for them.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Happy Birthday Titus

It's here! Titus is one year old today.

The last year has been a whirlwind. We have gone places we never dreamed we would have gone. Our emotions have been all over the map. Early on, someone told us the first year is the hardest - and it's been hard. But, there has also been an underlying sense of peace that can only be explained as the "peace that passes understanding".

There were days early on that we weren't sure if Titus would see the next day, much less make it to his first birthday.

But, here we are! Right now, Titus is suppose to be taking a nap, but I hear him playing in his bed. He's just jabbering away - and it's such a joyful noise.

To my youngest son. You have taught this old man new lessons in love and fatherhood. You have taught me to appreciate the little things in life. You have inspired me with your courage, your strength, your will power, your tolerance for pain. You have taught me to trust others who care for you in areas I could not, and to place you in the hands of God when all I want to do is hold on. You are a hero to so many. And one day, you will know all the people you have blessed.

For those of you in the area on Saturday, November 15 between 4pm and 6pm, please stop by for a piece of cake and join us for a prayer of thanksgiving at 5. You can email for directions. We are looking forward to seeing you and thanking you for all you have done for us this past year.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Becky's Surprise: Part 2

Becky was working the Neath the Wreath show in Plano this weekend with our friends at The Hollywood Ranch. And, the 4 older boys went camping with their Nana and Aunt A, so Titus and I decided to paint the kitchen.

This wasn't too big of surprise since we have had 4 paint swatches painted on the wall in the kitchen for the last 2 weeks, but everyone decided they liked the green. I liked the green, but thought it might be a little too light, so "I" decided to go a shade "darker."

I honestly feel the guys in the paint department at Lowes should issue certain warnings with some paint colors before choices are made since paint is not a returnable item. Warnings such as

"Did your wife pick out this color?"

"Does your wife know how bright this color is?"

"Are you painting an entire room this bright or just using it as an accent?"

"Are you sure you don't want to try a sample first?"

And last of all
"What's your back-up plan?"

But thinking that I knew what I was doing, I barged head purchasing two gallons of "Gilded Pesto" green. As I started the first coat, I thought, "Gee, that's a little bright", but knowing that paint always dries darker, I forged on and painted the kitchen with the first coat.

Becky came in that night and raved about it - she LOVED it - (ever the supporting wife).

The next morning, prior to leaving for work, she walked in and said "What do you think about the color?" I could tell by the tone that the expressed LOVE from the night before had changed to FEAR.

I went to the kitchen and after my eyes adjusted to the eye-popping, neon-blaring green, came to the same conclusion that Becky did. It's really hard to describe, but overnight, this green had invovled into an incredible-hulk shade of pulsating green. There was nothing "gilded pesto" about it. I told Becky something must be done or people or going to laugh. Of course, I could always blame it on the children since they are the ones who really liked the green.

So, Titus and I went back to Lowes. Fortunately, another paint guy was there - one older, more mature, and full of advice. We went with "Olive Grove" this time. And, after 12 hours and 2 coats of Olive Grove, we now have a green kitchen. Becky came in last night and again declared "I LOVE IT". And then she said "it's a little more apple green than olive" . . . (sigh.)

As I told her this morning, next time I have a whole day and 2 gallons of paint, we can do it again. If anything, we are definitely ready for Christmas!

Next - is the downstairs bath. Becky has picked out Regal Plum. Please Lord, don't let it be bright!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Life with Boys

You would think with 5 boys we would have learned most of the things you need to know about raising boys . . . but there's always something new.

Cade (who is the taller 4 year old) needed to go tinkle. And this is how the conversation went.

Cade: Mom, I need to go pee.

Mom: Make sure you sit down!

Cade: I wanna stand!

Mom: No, it will go everywhere - sit down.

Cade: No MOM! It won't go everywhere.

So, Cade stands.

And it goes everywhere.

Mom: Here's the rag - clean it up.

And Cade precedes to dip the rag in the toilet (that he hasn't flushed yet) and clean up his mess.

(sigh) . . . boys!

Monday, November 3, 2008

You're Invited!

In just a few days, Titus will be celebrating his first birthday on November 14. What an incredible year it has been - one that we never would have imagined and yet, looking back, it has been a journey that we are thankful for.

To celebrate, we would like to invite you to stop by on Saturday, Nov 15 between 4-6 pm for a piece of cake and to let us express how much we appreciate all the prayers, all the help, all the love you have shown our family this past year. So to our family, friends, neighbors, doctors/nurses/therapists, co-workers, and prayer warriors, you are all included/invited/welcomed to stop by and celebrate. At 5pm, we will have a prayer of thanksgiving and blessing.

Now, I know some of you are thinking we aren't serious, but we are. We know these emails have been forwarded out, printed out, and passed out to hundreds of people we do not know or have never met, but we would love to meet you and share with your our thanks on this special day. So, if you are in Frisco, Texas on Saturday, Nov 14, please stop by. I'll send our address and directions when you RSVP (via email). And please - no gifts - you all have already blessed us and provided us with so much.

Titus is doing great. There has been an awakening of sorts in the last few months. He has made great strides in therapy and although we still have a very long way to go, it's encouraging to know he is showing promise. He is really beginning to "play" with toys, provide us with cues that let us know to continue and he lets us know when he is enjoying an activity. He has become quite mobile on the floor, pushing himself around and rolling over occasionally. When you have him in a sitting position on your lap, he is leaning forward (or doing crunches as I call it). When he leans forward, he gets a kiss on forehead, and then he laughs, arches his back to go back down, and then does it again. He does this numerous times until he's worn out.

As mentioned on the blog, his surgery for his cleft palate is scheduled for January 15, 2009 unless there is a cancellation sooner. But, looking back, Titus has not had any major setbacks/illnesses/hospitalizations since April. This in itself is amazing.

Titus has a night nurse that comes and sits with him 3 nights a week. Although his sleeping has improved and he is sleeping through the night, it gives Becky and I a break to shut the door and sleep uninterrupted knowing that Vanessa is in there taking care of him. Vanessa loves him dearly and Titus knows when she is there. He melts into her arms and goes fast asleep. We tell her she can put him in the crib, but we think the two of the enjoy their time together. Last week, I was finishing up feeding Titus when Vanessa arrived. As she walked into the room, he turned to her, smiled, and he just knew she was there.

During the week we have two aides that come during the day to assist - Becky's mom and Melissa. They take Titus to therapy, assist around the house, wash the dishes/clothes, and love on Titus. Again, what a blessing they are to us. Starting this week, we will also have several hours of nursing visits start to assist in watching over him. This provides Becky time to continue homeschooling the boys.

I have so much more to share, but it's late and I'll save it for the party.

The Weekend

Have you ever had one of those weekends that was non-stop? That's how the last 72 hours have felt.

Becky worked First Monday Trade Days in Canton, Tx over the weekend. For those of you in Texas, you know what First Mondays are all about. But for those of you outside of Texas, think of one giant flea market, arts & craft show, pet store, & swap meet all in one place. This thing is BIG. Since Becky was gone, that left me with all the boys for the weekend.
But that was not until after the boys dressed up and went trick-or-treating on Friday night. The older 4 rummaged through their closets to come up with their costumes and Titus was all warm and snuggly in his puppy costume. The boys had passed out their "Scare Away Hunger" flyers the week before, so they were excited to see how many canned foods they would be able to collect. "Scare Away Hunger" is a canned food drive that our church participates on to stock our local food pantry. As a result, our church along with 2 other local churches collected 5,500 cans of food over the weekend. And when you think about, giving a couple cans of food to help someone who needs it is a lot more beneficial than giving my kids (or me) more candy!

Here's a few pics

Aidan and Noah went as Mad Scientist - Noah as pre-experiment, Aidan as post-experiment.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Seventeen Weeks

Tonight we completed our Growing Kids God's Way class. As many of you know, we have facilitated classes for the last 9 years and are key couples in the Dallas area for Growing Families. We were incredibly blessed (again) with a great class of committed, eager-to-learn, and teachable parents for the last 17 weeks.

As always, Becky and I learn more from leading the class and are convicted in the many areas we need to work on in our parenting with our kids. And, as leaders, we were so challenged by this class to really take our discusions to a deeper level - to not just train an action, but to reach the heart of our child.

As I closed the class out tonight, I reminded them that as parents we can not lead our children any further than we ourselves are willing to go. I can train my children in first-time obedience, but more importantly, they need to see me, their earthly father, practice submission and obedience to his Heavenly Father. And that, is much easier said than done. But I want my boys to see that living a life out loud for God is not a "some time" thing, but a daily thing. I want my boys to know that our training on "good, better, best" is not something we do so that they will be "good" kids, but we do it so others will see God living in us.

So, to Brett & Brennan, Shane & Malissa, Hillary and Chris, Jennifer & Jakob, Amy & Mike, and Dan & Marci, thanks for your commitment. We love you guys!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Cade Turns 4

For the last 2 months, Cade has told everyone he turns 4 in October. This past Monday, it finally happened. It's hard to believe my big boy is 4. He celebrated all weekend long - and closed out the celebration with dinner at On The Border!

To our precious Cader-Tot. You have blossomed more than we could have ever imagined. We remember the fear and uncertainty we felt from reading your medical reports - not knowing if there would be long-term developmental delays or obstacles that could be overcome, and yet we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you were to be a Daily boy! What a joy it has been to see you go from a timid, scared, and very tired toddler to being a happy, funny, cautious, and talkative boy (and yes - Cade can talk your ear off once he is comfortable with you or if your a teenage girl). We love you dearly.
And, to your birth mom, we are ever thankful she chose the gift of life for you and a gift of a son to us. And, we honor yout foster parents who loved you more than you can know for those 19 months you lived in Korea. You are so loved.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cleft Palate Update

We met this week with Dr. Genecov, our cranio-facial surgeon, to discuss repairing Titus' cleft palate. He was incredibly pleased with Titus development and how his jaw is looking, and has scheduled surgery for Jan 15 unless a cancellation happens sooner. Dr. Genecov didn't really go into the details about the surgery, but stated the cleft palate repair could really help his breathing, but there's a chance it could not. Plus, after the surgery, we will really begin working on oral feeds.

Our prayers are that the surgery will not only successfully repair his palate, but that it will improve his breathing.

Also, since we are entering the cold and flu season, we are being very careful with where we are taking Titus. Except for some minor colds, he has really been in good health for the last few months and we need to maintain that prior to surgery. So, if you only see one of us at church, chances are one of us is staying home with Titus just to assure we aren't exposing him to anything unnecessary.

Sorry I haven't posted much over the last few weeks - our offices have moved and internet connectivity has been spotty in the new building. But we have had busy week celebrating Cade's 4th birthday and I have pics to post along with a report on that.

And, be on the alert for Titus' upcoming birthday party. I can't believe my little guy is turning 1 in 2 weeks.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Titus and Baby Food

We are working on getting more food into Titus and exposing him to new tastes and sensations. His favorite new thing is the small mesh back that we put fruit in and then he chews on it. He LOVES grapes.

Today, we experimented with some baby food - and although he was not thrilled with the spoon, he was enjoying the new taste.

We also have found some new toys for Titus. Titus seems to be seeing peripherally - especially things that are above him. He tracks them with his eyes and is reaching for them.

Here's a few pics from today's play time and eat time.

Free Breakfast?

"Ikea has free breakfast on Saturday till 10:30" Becky says. "Let's take the boys".

Free - that sounds good. And, it's Saturday morning in Frisco - every body else will be at soccer games, football games, basketball games. I've been to IKEA at 10am on Saturday and no one was there.

"Sure, that will be fun - and I need to buy that table anyway."
And who really reads the ads in the paper to see that IKEA was giving away free breakfast, I thought.

So, you can imagine our surprise as we pulled into the parking lot with 5 starving children and two hungry parents to find that all of Frisco had showed up for the free breakfast, and the HUGE sale on pots and pans. I haven't seen a crowd like that since opening day at IKEA.

We looked at each other, looked at the line snaked around the entire second floor, and I said "Krispy Kreme is just around the corner".

At least the first donut at Krispy Kreme was free!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Becky's Surprise

As I mentioned earlier, Becky was away for the weekend. And, as I mentioned earlier, we sold our bed and bought a new king-size bed that was delivered last week.

So, knowing that Becky was going to be gone, I had planned to paint our bedroom and add some accessories over the weekend and surprise her when she came back. I've done this before (painting rooms while she's gone) but generally have given her a little hint so she wouldn't be too surprised. We've had paint chips taped to the wall for a week now and had picked a color that we both liked.

Friday night after Titus was asleep (9pm), Aidan and I started painting. Actually, Aidan watched Pirates of the Caribbean 2 while I painted, but he helped the next day. By the time I finished the first coat it was 2am. Those of you who know me know that for me to stay awake past 10pm is a miracle, but I drank a 16oz Monster energy drink at 8pm that night - so I was wired and ready to go. After I finished painting at 2am, I was still wide awake, so I started to watch Iron Man in the media room.

By 3am, I was starting to get sleepy. And that's when Titus' alarms started going off . . . every 15 minutes . . . for the next 3 hours. By that point, I was too tired to realize that the problem was with the machine and not his oxygen level. Needless to say, I was a little tired on Saturday, but Aidan was a great help in putting on a 2nd coat of paint. And, you can't even find the little bit of paint that I spilled on the carpet.

When Becky came in, she was feeling so sick that all she really noticed was the lamp. She really didn't notice the paint until several hours later. But, she loves her new room. Now, if we can just train Quita to stay off the bed we'll be doing good. And, next time she's gone, I'll be ready to paint the kitchen.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Now, It's 4 out of 7

Well, Becky has what Tucker had - and she feels miserable.

Noah, Cade and Titus spent the weekend with Nana - and they have all broken out with hives/bumps all over and they are scratching themselves silly/

But, Aidan and Titus are doing ok.

And, I . . . well, i feel itchy since the boys got home.

Friday, October 3, 2008

2 Out of 5

Monday night, Tucker complained of his back hurting. He kept saying "my back hurts". And then he threw up in the kitchen, then in his bed, then in the kitchen again, then on the counter. But the next time, he threw up in the toilet. So we shipped him off to Nana's house so he wouldn't get anyone sick.

Last night, Aidan complains he doesn't feel good. I ask him "Does your back hurt?" He didn't think this was funny.

Then Tucker starts whining he doesn't feel good and then he has diarrhea (lovely).

So Aidan is sleeping next to our bed and Tucker is sleeping at the foot of our bed. And this is how our night went.

Aidan: "I'm gonna throw up."
Mom & Dad: "Run!"
Tucker: "I gotta go POO!"
Mom & Dad: "Run!"
Aidan: "Tucker, go to the other bathroom!"
Tucker: "I gotta go POOOOOOOOOOOOO!"
Mom & Dad: "RUN!!!!"
Titus (monitor): BEEP, BEEP, BEEP

And this cycle repeated itself every 15 minutes between 10 and midnight. But after midnight, everyone slept till 6am.

And, then at 6am this morning, I woke to "I'm gonna throw up!" And, the day began.

"This the day the Lord has made, let us REJOICE and be GLAD in it".
Psalm 118:24

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Turning Over

At therapy, we have been working with Titus turning over. We practice and practice and practice with him. Well, last night, his monitors went off, Becky went in, and he had turned over in his bed all by himself (he wasn't too happy about it). But it is great to see his progress. He's becoming quite the scooter on the floor. He's learning to kick his feet and push himself along.

Please continue to pray for his cough/drainage. He's had a lot more drainage over the last few days and we are suctioning several times a day. But at his doctor's appt yesterday, his lungs are clear (PTL). He even had "snot bubbles" in his nose yesterday - which is real common for most babies, but when you have such a large cleft palate, it's very rare when Titus' nose actually runs. And, due to the drainage, we've been up a lot over the last few nights. And, our night nurse, Clarice, was unable to come this week since she has a cold. As a result, Becky and I are running on low energy (actually, I've moved from coffee to Monster energy drinks to keep me awake at work!)

And, the funny thing is, Becky and I bought a new bed last week (which is to be delivered today). We decided to sell our old queen-size bedroom set on Craigslist - and found a great buyer immediately. Unfortunately, he came and picked up the bed on Monday. We tried to sleep on an air mattress the first night, which was a comedy of errors - so one of us has been sleeping on the air mattress and one of us on the sofa which I know is adding to the extra fatigue. But we are SO excited to sleep on a new king-size mattress tonight!

Thanks for your prayers - I'll post new pics soon.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Quick Update

First of all, I've been swamped at work last week, so there were no times for updates. I apologize for that - but more about that later.

It's been a busy few weeks for the family. Titus is doing good - although he still has a wet cough. The pulmonologist checked him out this week and his lungs are clear, so it's basically just drainage. It could be allergies during this change of season. Fortunately, we have the suction machine and are quite adept at using it. Now, Titus doesn't like it very much, but it does clean him out. We do watch him carefully though since we don't want this to go down into his chest.

Titus is growing, but has not put on much weight. We have bumped up the amount of formula so we will see how he does with that. He does seem to show a renewed interest in the bottle. Some of that could be due to his teething, but he is even wrapping his hands around the bottle helping to hold it in, or pull it out.

Titus has gotten some new toys - and he's loving those, but his favorite toy is still my electric toothbrush. He loves the vibration and he definately shows his discontent when you turn it off or take it away from him.

Cade got his hearing aid last week for his right ear. He LOVES it - and goes around telling everyone and showing everyone. He is so excited about it that now Tucker wants one. We keep telling Tucker he doesn't need one, but I won't be surprised if I get home and Tucker has made one and will be walking around with play dough in his ear. BTW, if you see Cade, ask him about his upcoming birthday. He is so excited to turn 4 in October.

I haven't mentioned my work lately, but just a quick update on my status. The division I work for was sold to a private UK-based company in July. It has been extremely busy over the last few months as we have been learning the new company while keeping the business running. But, since the new company only bought a portion of the company and not the entire corporation, we have been incredibly busy creating a payroll system, HR system, benefits, etc. It's very much the analogy of building the car while you are driving it down the road. Or, as my VP states, we are ducks on the water - sitting calmly on the surface, but kicking/swimming like crazy under the surface. The great thing is my job is secure, the new company is great, and although very tiring, I'm having the most fun I've had in years learning new things.

I'll close for now, but just wanted to give a quick update - look for more over the next few weeks. We can't believe Titus is almost a year old.

Friday, September 12, 2008

God Made Me Fast

Ever since the Olympics, Tucker loves to race people on the sidewalk. His big brothers are incredibly accomodating for their little brother. So, they all get in position, Tucker says "ready, set, go" and takes off. And, of course, they let him win.

After racing the other day, Tucker comes up to me and says, "God made me fast. But Poor Noah, God made him slow". We fell out of the chair laughing.

But it reminded me of the comment in the 80's movie "Chariots of Fire". Now, I must admit, I'm the only person I know who fell asleep watching the movie, but there is an incredible line in the movie spoken by the character Eric Liddell - a committed Christian and missionary.

"God made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure".

We all know the feeling of passion, completion, and joy we experience when we are doing the one thing we love most. It really doesn't matter what the talent or act is, but we are all blessed with gifts from God to utilize for His worship. And when we do, we can experience and feel the pleasure of God.

And I have to reflect, am I experiencing the pleasure and presence of God in my own life.

Last night, Becky and I were watching a movie (not Chariots of Fire - but I still fell asleep anyway). Titus was playing in his crib and determined to not fall asleep, so Becky finally got up and brought him in with us to watch the movie. He finally settled down, snuggled in the arms of his mother.

I leaned over him and gave him an eskimo kiss (rubbed noses). This is something I've done with Titus since he was born. Titus was almost asleep, but as my face neared his and my nose touched his, he began to smile. And, as we rubbed noses, he cooed with glee. Becky looked at me and sayed "He knows it's you - He loves when you do that".

And, what a beautiful picture of joy of a son in the presence of his father. And, I thought this morning as I was walking, when God draws near to me, do I smile? Do I feel his presence? Do I enjoy the pleasure of God's company? When God hid Moses in the cleft of the rock and passed by - did Moses feel pressured for being in a tight spot - or did he marvel and pleasure that he was in the presence of God.

Just like Titus, I want to revel in the presence of my Father.

God made me ____________ (Fill in the blank) and when I _____________, I feel His pleasure.

Monday, September 8, 2008

4 Years and 3 Sons Ago

4 Years and 3 sons ago, we were anxiously awaiting a referral of a Korean baby boy from our adoption agency. I had been laid off from my job that summer and God provided an incredible contract job opportunity in downtown Dallas that summer. The contract job not only paid our living expenses, but also paid for all our adoption costs - it was an incredible blessing to us of God's provision.

On the last day of the contract job, the people I worked with had gone out to dinner to thank me for the work. While sitting on the balcony of the Iron Cactus eating chips and salsa, my cell phone rang.

"We got a referral" were the first words I heard.

The world stopped at that moment as I heard Becky tell me the details about a little 6 week old baby boy who had been born at 34 weeks and weighed 4 1/2 pounds. He was perfect in every detail - and we knew before we ever saw a picture of him that he was our son. I went back to the office to retrieve all the referral paperwork and then catch the train home.

I must have read the referral paperwork a dozen times on the train. My heart broke for the birth mother as I read the circumstances, but yet, knew she had made the right decision. And we rejoiced that she choose life - not only for this baby but this life was to be our son. A new life for us after years of waiting, years of loss, years of infertility.

So, today, 4 years and 3 sons later, I look back and remember the day we found out about Tucker Paul Jin.

To my precious Tucker Toes - you are forever mine. We love you dearly.

Quick Update on Eye Evaluation - UPDATED

UPDATE - Becky and Titus were released in the afternoon and got home around 8:30pm last night. Titus is doing good - and was so glad to be home. When I laid him in his crib, he laughed and cooed - stretched his arms out and felt the sides of his crib - and he just smiled. He knew he was home.

The glaucoma specialist checked Titus' eye pressure this morning after they put him under anesthetic - and his pressures were good - well within the normal ranges. So, they did not have to do further surgery and can check him again in 6 months. That's a huge answer to prayer.

BUT, his dry cough has now become more of a wet cough and they suctioned some secretions (i.e. gunk) out of his lungs and throat. They feel he may have a little virus. So, they have not released him from the hospital yet. In fact, Becky and Titus are still sitting in the post-op room waiting on a pediatric pulmonologist to come by and check him out.

We have gone through this before with Titus and are very aware of how to manage him and his secretions when he gets a cold - but being in Houston with doctors that don't see him all the time don't know that. Please pray that the pulmonologist will come soon and they will be released to come home.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Trip to Houston

Becky and Titus left for Houston on Sunday. Titus will have an evaluation-under-anesthetic with the pediatriac glaucoma specialist. Our last check up 3 months ago indicated his eye pressures were within range and we are praying that will be the same this time.

Becky has a good friend driving down with her, and then will have to be at Hermann Children's Hospital at 5:30am Monday morning so they can prep Titus for the procedure which should be around 7:30am. If his pressures are high, they will immediately do surgery to relieve the pressure. If his pressures are normal, then they will bring him back out of the operating room and release him to go home as soon as he comes out of the anesthetic. We would appreciate your prayers this morning as he goes through the exam. I'll update later today when we know the results.

Titus has had a dry, hacking cough this week. Becky and I both came down with a cold upon our return from Indianna and we have tried to keep Titus from getting it. He's not draining, but just has the dry cough.

And, I forgot to mention in previous posts, but Titus has cut not just one, but two teeth last week. As soon as we got to Family Camp last week, someone else noticed (aren't we ever observant) and 2 days later, the another one broke through. They are both on bottom . And, just like Titus, he's not showing any of the normal signs babies do when they teeth - no fever, no fussiness, no drooling - but he is chewing on his fingers (but he does that anyway).

And, one more thing - Titus is doing great in therapy. He not only plays with his feet now, but is starting to roll from side-to-side. He's not rolled over yet, but it's so cute to see him on the floor, just laughing and playing with his feet and then rocking his body side-to-side. If you lay next to him, he reaches over and grabs you. His brothers are so precious playing on the floor with him.

Family Camp

It's hard to believe we've been home from Family Camp almost a week. This is our 3rd year to drive to Twin Lakes Camp in Indianna to attend Family Camp with our friends in the Growing Families International Parenting ministry. We had a wonderful time with our dear friends from around the country. The boys loved fishing, canoeing, swimming and playing with their friends. Since Aidan is going into 6th grade, this was the first year he got to stay up late with the other youth for special games at night.
And, we had to continue our grand tradition of doing a silly song for the talent show on the last evening. This year, our friends from Lake Jackson joined us in our choreographed version of Tony Chestnut. (Now, if I can just get the tune out of my head, I think I'll survive - but as soon as it begins to ebb away, Cade breaks out in song at the top of his lungs).

Of course, Becky and I stayed up way too late each night talking with friends and playing games, but it was so worth it.

And, we were so blessed with the incredible schedule they put together to take care of us. Several of the ladies are nurses, so they all took turns caring for Titus in the afternoon so that we could play with the other boys. I'm not sure who was more blessed - Titus or these precious women. But, much thanks to Anne Marie, Karen, Carla, & Carol for watching over Titus those days. I do believe Titus has them wrapped around his little finger.

Joey and Carla L. - thanks for planning this every year. It truly is the highlight of the year for our family.

Gary and Anne Marie E. - thanks for the encouragement, the prayers, and the incredible message on Sunday morning.

And to all the other families, we love you guys. You are truly garden friends. We look forward to seeing more of you through the next year - you know our door is always open. And, I promise to give you directions to get here that will avoid all hidden toll road charges.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Titus Meets Titus

We are home from Family Camp. What a great vacation for all. I'll post more about Family Camp later this week, but wanted to show you one of the highlights of our trip.

Titus met Titus.

Several years ago, Becky and I met an amazing young man. We were so impressed with his family and his servant's heart. Now, at 17, Titus K is an incredibly role-model for my boys. Every time we are around his family, they challenge us to "raise-the-bar" on our parenting by the example they have set.

When Becky and I were searching for names last year, we loved the name Titus since it was Biblical, unique, and . . . well, basically because of Titus K.

So, Titus met Titus.

Titus K. - Thanks for living your faith out-loud. God has incredibly things in store for you.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Hearing Aids

Titus received his hearing aids yesterday. This will probably bring his hearing up from profoundly deaf to severely deaf, but will stimulate his hearing for the time leading up to the cochlear implants. Titus can tell a difference - he is really looking around for the noise and was even imitating some sounds yesterday. What a thrill it is to see this. Now, keeping them in will be a challenge - we do have both of them tethered together on string that clips to his clothing, but the aid has to make a good seal in his ear - and if not, they squeal.

Titus also had a follow-up visit with the pulmonologist yesterday about his sleep test. It appears that Titus is waking up multiple times in the night and not going into deep REM sleep for long periods of time. Since this could affect his growth/development, they are looking at a new breathing machine at night that will assist his sleep.

After that dr. visit, Titus had a follow-up appointment with the ENT for a genetic test - and as usual, they decided to do blood work instead of a cheek swab, so Becky will be taking Titus down to Children's Hospital for the blood work today. And, the doctor has a little concern about the back of Titus head (he's developed a little bit of a ridge) so we are going back to the neurosurgeon to make sure his skull is fusing correctly.

At the same time, Cade had a visit with the ENT. Cade lost his hearing in his right ear after he was born. Cade spent several weeks in the hospital in Korea with CMV when he was a few months old. We want to make sure his hearing is continuing to remain strong in his left ear and there is no more damage or continuing loss in his right ear. Cade did great on his sound test and they are going to look at a hearing aid for his one ear - along with doing a MRI to better define the reason for losing his hearing after he was born (The ENT is not convicned Cade had CMV).

There was a time if I had heard all that information in one day, I would have been overwhelmed. But, having 3 doctors visits (plus a therapy visit that I didn't mention) in one day, getting news about additional therapy, additional treatments, etc is just par for the course. As I was driving home last night after work, I realized what an incredible journey this is. It's not one we were expecting, but one that is teaching us so much about God's provision, God's plan, and faith. And the old gospel song came to me:

Why should I feel discouraged?
Why should the shadows come?
Why should my heart be lonely
And long for heaven and home?
When Jesus is my portion
My constant friend is He
His eye is on the Sparrow and I know he watches me.

"Let not your heart be troubled"
His tender word I hear
And resting on his goodness
I lose my doubts and fears.
Though by the path he leadeth
But one step I may see
His eye is on the Sparrow and I know he watches me.

I sing because I'm happy.
I sing because I'm free.
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

Monday, August 18, 2008

9 Months Old

Titus turned 9 months old last week. He weighed in at 14lbs and 1 oz at his 9 month check-up and he is doing incredibly well. He's been off oxygen during the day for a month. At night, his oxygen sats tend to sink after he goes into a deep sleep, so we keep him on oxygen as a precaution. Titus did have a sleep test this past week to see if there might be any underlying reason why this was happening, but as you might expect, he did wonderfully all night without oxygen for the test. We have not received the final results from the doctor though, so we will wait and see if they detected anything.

Now that we have Medicaid coverage, we have started back to therapy 4 times a week. Therapy wears him out (it's a 30 minute session), but he is a such a trooper. He is showing improvement and strength which is so encouraging. Developmentally, Titus is around 3 months; Socially, he's at a 5 months stage. Considering all of his needs and the fact he spent close to 3 1/2 months in the hospital after birth, we feel this is great. We can see the improvements and he is gaining in head control, arm strength, and showing that he is using his stomach muscles when he grasps his feet. We are also working strengthening his arm muscles. He's starting to push and pull with them his arms.

We have also received our Medically Dependent Children's Program approval which provides for nursing care throughout the week. We will have a nurse come 2 nights a week to stay with Titus through the night which allows for us to get a solid, uninterrupted night's sleep. Last Wednesday night was our first night with the night nurse. Her name is Clarice and she is from Cameroon and it looks like she and Titus have hit it off. She said Titus woke around 1am and started playing in his crib, so she picked up him and held him the rest of the night. I think he may get a little spoiled here. Becky is still working on our schedule for daytime nurse aid visits (of which we can have up to 30 hours during the week). This will be very helpful once home-school starts up full-time.

There are times the last 9 months seem to be a blur. Someone told us early on that the first year with a special needs child is the hardest. And, I can see how that can be as you adjust to all the changes. It truly changes so many areas of your life: your hopes and dreams, your vacation plans, your free time, your financial plans (I am now having to plan for Titus retirement along with my own). There are still moments of grief that sneak up on us and can be overwhelming. When I see most 9 months old can do and what Titus can't do, there are times I'm discouraged. But, I have had to learn that "all things work together for good" and to "choose you this day who you will serve". I can choose to succumb to the grief or I can choose to submit to God's plan - even when I don't fully understand. But any moment of grief we have melts away when Titus is in our arms. His smile when we rub noses thrills my soul. The way he snuggles in after he has been fed shows me his trust and contentment in his father. His laugh when his brothers play with him is the sweetest sound.

Please pray for these things over the next few weeks.
  • Our appointment with the pulmonologist as a follow-up to the sleep study.
  • Titus breathing at night will grow stronger.
  • Hearing aids and hearing aid therapy will start soon as we prepare for cochlear implants.
  • Our vacation over Labor Day to Family Camp. As a family, going to family camp is one of the highlights of our year. But, it's a long drive to Indianna and back, and the the time in the car, change in schedule, differents senses/smells for Titus, etc - are all overwhelming for him. Pray for his comfort and health on the trip.
  • Titus appointment in September with the glaucoma specialist. When we return from Family Camp, Titus has a follow-up appointment in Houston. 3 months ago, his levels were in the normal range. We pray they still are and no additional surgery will be necessary.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sleep Test

Titus is going in for a sleep test tonight. He's been off oxygen for a month now and during the day does great. But at nighttime, after he's been asleep for about an hour, his oxygen saturations level sink and we have been putting him on oxygen to get him back up. Generally during the night, he starts playing with his oxygen tube/canula and takes it back out - some nights he's fine, but other nights, his SATS go up and down. So, they are doing a sleep test to see if they can pinpoint the reasons why. Becky will be staying with him all night. Your prayers are appreciated.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Innocence or Trouble?

Tucker and Cade are just full of innocence. And then there are days that they are just filled with mischief. Just look at these pictures. Can you tell what type of day they are having?

Titus Update: MDCP

Over the last few months, we have been working on getting Titus approved for MDCP: Medically Dependent Children's Program. This is a state of Texas run program that will provide us a budget of dollars to be spent on nursing care, therapy, etc. It also approves Titus for Medicaid. We received the Medicaid approval several months ago, and have been going through the paperwork to finish the process. Our paperwork was completed several weeks back, but for Titus to be put at the top of the list for approval, he had to spend a day at a state-approved nursing home.

Yesterday, Becky and a friend, Marti, drove Titus to Gainesville, Tx (an hour north of here) to check in prior to 5pm and then drove back late last night.

As Becky stated honestly, this wasn't the happiest place to be. For many of the elderly that lived there, this is simply their last stop on this earth. The strong medicinal/antiseptic smell permeated the air, many were sitting listless in the lobby, but they loved seeing a baby in their midst.

After they checked in, Marti ran back out to the car to retrieve some of their stuff and she over heard this conversation on the front porch. As she described it, two elderly women were out on the porch. One looked at the other and stated "Hurry, come out here - look at this beautiful day." And the other replied "Yes, how beautiful - This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad".

What a reminder that no matter what state or place we are in, we should rejoice and be glad.

Now that Titus has Medicaid, he is able to return to therapy - which will eventually be 4 days a week. He has made great progress. Developmentally, he's at a 3 month stage; Socially, he's at a 5 month stage. He's improving his control on holding his head up and we are working on him rolling over. He has found his toes and will lift those up and grab his toes and play with them. As I've stated before, he is still the happiest, most content baby you have ever been around.

Thanks for all the prayers - and please continue to pray for his development and therapy.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Iron Sharpens Iron

As mentioned last week, we had 3 extra kids stay with us for the week. What an incredible time we had last week with 8 kids in the house. Now, I know what most of you are thinking - "you guys are CRAZY!" But, can I tell you how calm and peaceful a household can be when you have 8 well-trained kids. Conflicts were minimal, fun was had, lots of laughter was shared. It was like eating with the Waltons every night for dinner (and you can't imagine how quickly the kitchen was cleaned up after.) Now, I'm still finding Nerf darts all over the house from the incredible Nerf Gun War. We'll eventually get them off of all the high window ledges.

The kids wrapped up their music camp with their program on Friday night and then an encore performance on Sunday morning for children's church. They were awesome.

Becky is so ready to have a 14 year old girl after having Ashley last week. I did have to correct her and say "not just any 14 yr old girl, but one who has been raised with Biblical principles like Ashley".

So, Ashley, if your reading this and ever want to run away from home, you have a home with us. And, please bring Morgan and Leighton too.

Mike and Jodi K, the incredible parents of Ashley, Morgan, and Leighton came for the weekend with their other 2 kids - which just added to the fun. I think the 4 of us talked non-stop (which isn't really hard for Mike and Becky - but I do think Jodi and I will say our mouths might be tired from the talking).

As usual, Mike and Jodi encouraged us on our parenting. They are truly an "iron sharpens iron" couple in our lives and helped us see areas we need to work on.

And as usual, one of them makes a comment that just stops me in my tracks and makes me think. As we were talking late one night, Jodi stated "God can never take you farther than the last place you told him no."

I reflect back on my life and realize I have told God "NO" a lot. No - I can't do that; No - I can't forgive that person; No - I won't talk to that person; No - I won't confess that sin; No - I don't want what YOU have provided.

And then I look at the life of Jonah and realize I'm such a Jonah at times - running away, hiding, and believing I can escape God's plan. I still have to learn that God wants my obedience, not my defiance; God wants my submission, not my selfishness; God wants the best for me, not what I want for me; God wants my YES, not my NO.

Can you imagine how you could turn the world upside down if you just stopped saying NO? Can you imagine where God could take you if we said YES?


Yes, Lord . . . Yes!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Titus Gets a Haircut

Titus has been in dire need of a haircut. He's had a few trims over the last few months, but this week, he got a full haircut. He is just as curly-headed as his dad and brothers. Here's the before and after.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Paul and Becky + 8

You may have heard of the reality show - Jon and Kate +8. It's about the lives of family with 8 kids (most under the age of 6). Well, this week, it's Paul and Becky + 8.

We have 3 incredible kids staying with us this week as they all go to music camp at our church. Ashley, Morgan, and Leighton are dear friends of ours from Lake Jackson, TX and we picked them up on Saturday afternoon.

Now, we are use to the looks that we get when we go out to eat (mainly because of our matching outfits), but you should see the looks you get when you show up with 8 kids. People stare at you like the Von Trapp family has come to town. But, we don't care - we are having a blast.

I'll post more about it this week - and our camera is back from the repair shop so new pics are coming soon.

Paul & Becky
Aidan, Noah, Tucker, Cade, Titus, Ashley, Morgan, & Leighton

Monday, July 21, 2008

Titus: Untethered

Titus is oxygen free!

Last week, I went to check him before heading to bed and his oxygen sats (SATS) were at 100%. I then checked his face and noticed his canula was totally out of his nose - so we decided - let's see how long he can go. And, he went 5 hours.

So the next day, we tested again - and he went all day long.

He's gone a few night without oxygen but over the weekend, we noticed his SATS were sinking a bit at night and taking awhile to recover, so we've putting him back on oxygen at night. But during the day, he is untethered and oxygen free!!!

After 5 months of being on oxygen, having a cord trail behind you all over the house, switching over to the smaller portable tank when leaving the house, constantly checking to make sure his canula is in his nose, it's an incredible feeling to be able to pick up my child without having that hose around him. He even looks so different with out it.

I'll post pics this week (camera is in the shop but should be coming back soon).

Thank you so much for the prayers in this area - and please keep praying. He's making marked improvement in so many areas.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Conversation Between Tucker & Cade

Tucker: Dodo-bird

Cade: Am not

Tucker: Dodo-bird, dodo-bird


Mom: Cade, stop tattling on Tucker. Tell him to stop and ignore him.

Tucker: Dodo-bird

Cade: Please stop calling me that.

Tucker: Dodo-bird

Cade: PLEASE, stop calling me that.

Tucker: Dodo-bird, dodo-bird, DODO-BIRD!!

Cade: I ignorin you.

Tucker: MOM, CADE's IGNORING ME!! dodobird, dodobird, dodobird

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Happy Anniversary

Dearest Beck,
Happy Anniversary sweetheart. After 14 years, I'm still amazed you chose to marry me (even if I was SO much older). There is no one else on earth I would want to share this incredible life with. Who knew 14 years ago that life would take us where it has - and who would have dreamed that we would have 5 boys (and homeschool!)

From Windflower Way to Lake Crest to Old Orchard to Seaside Lane, you've always made our house a home.

From New York to San Francisco to Chicago to Charleston to Seagrove to Seoul to Sydney, you've always made travel an adventure.

From Aidan to Noah to Tucker to Cade to Titus, you've made parenting a joy.

From EDS to Novient to Primedia to Radiant to Alliance, you've always supported me in my career (the good and the bad).

From Hamburger Helper to New York Strips, you've kept me well-fed (a few years more so than others as the pics will attest).

Thank you for a wonderful-exciting-fun-filled-never-dull-always-changing life. I still love coming home to you!

All of me,