Thursday, 16 October 2014

One week to go!

October 24th is approaching very, very quickly!  We are checking into the airport next Thurs night for a 1:45am departure early Friday morning!  It is hard to believe we are finally going!  This past week has been a whirlwind of activity preparing for out trip.

Thankfully, just about everything is in order. Air and hotels are booked.  We are just tidying up the little details now.  I have only one shift to go before I have my parental leave....Yay!!!  I like my co-workers but I love being home much more.  It is a wonderful privilege to have another leave of absence from work. 

Steph plans to be off for a total of five weeks...something he is looking forward to as well.  His work gives him two choices of leaves: five weeks of full pay or the trip length at no pay.  Definitely a no-brainer decision for us! 

We have booked apartment-type hotels as they are much more economical and convenient for such a large group.  In Vietnam, many of the hotels are very cheap but they charge a significant surcharge/person after two people or sometimes four persons. When you have seven in the family, the surcharges end up costing as much as the room itself.  We also like the idea of staying in a place where the kids have some space to move, where we have a full service kitchen,and where we have our own laundry facilities!

After our first ten 10 days in the city, we plan to travel up the coast a little ways to a beach town to relax while the paperwork is being processed.  It does not cost anymore to stay there, (less actually) and it will likely be a nice change.  We are both looking forward to a little R&R.  Who knows, though, if the our little Jadon is not well, we will stay in the big city to be closer to better healthcare.  One day at a time...

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Here we grow again!

After a long hiatus from blogging it is now time to put fingers to keyboard and start typing again.  After all, we have exciting news to share in the form of a little Vietnamese boy.  Yes, as many of you know, we are planning to adopt again!  I was called about our official adoption date yesterday...and it is three weeks away!

Wow!  Hard to believe. After months and months of paperwork and seemingly endless waiting we are in a mad race against time to pack, buy tickets, arrange hotels, get travel visas and get everything in order so we can travel.  Not to mention arranging our leaves of absence from work. It is very exciting to announce that I only have three shifts of work left until I am off for about six months or so.

We have encountered a little hiccup in the travel plans today.  Somehow a letter that the Citizenship Canada people should be receiving and then sending has not been received.  Tomorrow morning we have to make a call and pray they can speed that letter up.  If not, we may be delayed.  I was just about to buy the airline tickets when we found this out so I asked the agent to just hold them until tomorrow.  This definitely adds a little stress to the "blissful" time we are having.  (Thankfully you can't see my face right has been anything but peaceful around here today as I have been scrambling to cancel dental appts, schedule typhoid shots, arrange hotels, talk to travel agents about tickets and visas, arrange health coverage for our new son, you get the picture.)

In the midst of the chaos, my good friend Carolyn came over for a quick lunch and a fabulous sanity break.  I also had a super exciting call today from prospective adoptive parents, R&L.  They just got a referral of an adorable little Chinese boy today!  Praying for their blessing!

Anyway, as per usual, I have digressed.  I know you all want to see pics of our little one but we are respecting Vietnamese rules that say no online pic posting of children matched for adoption until the adoption is finalized.  What I can tell you all though, is that he is two years old, has had a difficult journey medically in his short life, and he has a sweet smile to melt our hearts. He was born with a complex heart problem, a life-threatening esophageal atresia/fistula, and an abnormally shaped  right ear.  That's the bad news... The good news is his heart is fixed now, and  his esophageal condition was fixed at a couple days old. 

With my medical background, I am well aware that any time a baby is born with multiple anomalies there is always a concern re: is this a syndrome?  He has been tested for one syndrome that we were particularly concerned about and the results for that condition were negative.  It is very possible we could be facing some added medical surprises when he arrives back home, but we feel very confident that we are to move ahead and adopt him.  Is he currently developmentally delayed?


The difficult thing to assess is whether this is due to having spent so much time sick in hospital prior to his heart repair, having lived in an orphanage while out of hospital, or whether this is due to a genetic issue.  The doctor who reviewed his file and videos here feels that he is doing pretty well considering what he has been through.  This specialist in internationally adopted children said to us, "I had something I was prepared to discuss with you but once I saw the videos I promptly decided not to say it. He may in fact just be a child with a few isolated problems."

Whatever the case, we love him anyway.  Kids are kids. Not syndromes. 

All our four children are thrilled to be welcoming another child into the family.  They can't wait to have a little baby brother.   The older three kids understand he may have more challenges than other children.  Their answer when I asked them if it bothered or concerned them was a resounding, "Who cares.  We want him anyway."

Please pray for us and for our children as they adapt yet again.  I am especially concerned for our dear little Li Lin.  She is younger, understands less about what is going on, but knows enough to realize her "place as baby in the family" is being threatened.  When we first began the process over a year and a half ago she was always asking for a brother. When she first saw his pic a few weeks ago, reality set in and she did not like hearing anyone talk about him.  Thankfully she is now very excited and keeps finding toys around the house to give to "didi" (means little brother in mandarin).  We do know that she may struggle with me holding her little didi.  She has frequently said, "Daddy can hold didi, and you can hold me."

We will try to be as sensitive as we can to the needs of all of our children.  We know the orphanage setting will likely be hard on Logan and Rykauna.  Not to mention Steph and I.  We also know the orphanage children, including our little guy, are infested with scabies.  Please pray we can avoid passing this around the family.  Any suggestions to avoid getting it would be welcome.  I am thinking of trying tea tree oil?! 

As I close I should mention, our little boy will be called Jadon (pronounced Jaydon).  It is a biblical name that I have seen two different meanings for: "God has heard" and  "thankful".  As my dad puts it, "God has heard and we are thankful!"

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Learning to see from a blind man...

A few weeks ago, I was waiting at a stoplight and a man with a seeing-eye German Sheppard dog crossed the busy intersection in front of me.  As he crossed the street, he felt around on the pole for "the  button" to trigger the walk symbol. The light changed and I had the privilege of watching him cross the street again.  I admired how he had such faith in his dog.  The traffic was heavy, but he did not appear tentative at all.  Partway through the intersection I noticed a careless left-turning driver attempt to turn in front of them.  My stomach tightened.  But it did not need to.  The dog turned his upper body in front of the gentleman to stop him from walking and allow the inconsiderate driver to turn directly in front of the duo.

Afterwards, the dog continued to walk with his upper body just slightly turned inwards towards his owner.  He was a protector, and nothing was going to happen to his dear blind friend.   I couldn't help but think of how I had just seen a beautiful picture of how God protects us.  We sometimes fret and worry, but don't need to.  I need to be more like the blind man.  He put his life into the dog's hands and calmly walked into the busy street fully trusting the dog to protect him.  I need to fully rely on God's guidance and protection in my life.  I love how the dog stopped the man from danger then sheltered him the rest of the way across the street.  God warns us of danger and shelters not just across a street but for our whole life.  It makes me think of Psalm 91.

Psalm 91

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

I am very thankful for this opportunity "to improve my vison while watching this blind man."  He has no idea he helped improve my sight.
On another note, my children recently had their vision assessed at their optometrist.  Rykauna's glasses were falling apart so she needed a new pair.  We figured we may as well check her vision again before buying her a new pair.  

Logan was told he had the vision needed to be an air force pilot. 

Hudson's vision had improved to the point he really doesn't need to wear glasses unless he starts to have eye strain or headaches.  He was also told he could improve his vision by playing more video games... LOL!  The optometrist has a great sense of humour and qualified his statement by saying, "Only if your mom is okay with it."  

Li Lin's vision was okay, but one eye was better than the other.  The eye doctor wanted us to get glasses for her to try to train the lazy eye.  If this doesn't work he will have to "patch" the good eye.  After wearing the glasses for an hour of two, Li Lin will tell me her "eye is fixed".  She does not like wearing her "pretty glasses".  She frequently takes them off... so much so that they are MIA right now.  Hopefully we find them soon...or else the patch may find its way to our home.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

O. of O.

As I mentioned in my last post...which was, ahem, only a few days ago, I got a bit desperate to try and get over our flus and colds.  So I bought... a bottle of oil of oregano.  It tastes awful but it works.  Hey isn't that what Buckley's uses in their ads?

We had first heard about oil of oregano a few years ago from my brother-in-law.  His immediate family had been using it to prevent illness.  I have to admit we were a bit skeptical.  He told us an extended family member had seen dramatic improvements in respiratory health after following a regime of oil of oregano. This piqued my interest.
Here are some of the purported health benefits of the stuff:  potent antioxidant, antibacterial (against 41 different strains), antifungal and antiseptic.  It is been known to treat respiratory tract, GI, skin, and urinary tract disorders.  Several websites claim it can treat the super bug, MRSA.  Since antioxidants have been known to kill cancer cells, it has some websites even claiming that it may prevent and/or slow progression of some types of breast cancer.  Even the Mayo Clinic is weighing in on it, admitting that there seems to be some antibacterial properties but that more studies need to be done.

We first tried oil of oregano when we went to China.  We had been told that getting a GI bug when travelling to China was a given for foreigners.  We did not get sick. (The boys got motion sickness during the plane landing in Shanghai, but none of us got a bug.)  We were very thankful for the many prayers that were spoken on our behalf in this regard.

As a result of taking the oil of oregano for the China trip, I got a really cool health benefit.  My very resistant strain of plantar's warts went away!  I had been treating them myself with various and pricey over the counter remedies for a good long while with no success.  I had visited my GP and she had tried burning them a couple of times with no avail either.  She then sent me to a dermatologist who had been treating me with a stronger form of liquid nitrogen biweekly for a few months.  The dermatologist then had upped the visits to weekly but they still kept growing back.  Finally, just before we left for China the dermatologist gave me a script to go get a medication at the Cancer clinic which she wanted to inject into the warts.  She gave me explicit instructions to pick the med up, keep it cool, and bring it to her within a couple of hours due to the short half-life of the medication.  I left the office thinking I wasn't really comfortable having a chemotherapy agent injected into my feet for something as harmless as a wart.  After all, Steph loves me warts and all!  She reassured me that since the dose was so small there would be no effects like hair loss, etc. A couple of days later we left for China, life got really busy for a few weeks, and when I had time to start thinking about whether or not I wanted to take the chemo drug I realized that the warts were all gone!

So yeah, I became a closet believer in the stuff.  It seemed a bit wacky but I thought, if it works why not use it?!  This brings us to this past December where I have only been sicker once... in high school with a pneumonia that required hospitalization.  I knew that should be going to the doctor.  My cough sounded like I was a chain-smoker with TB.  I had no time to visit the doctor.  So... I bought the bottle.  Steph and I feel much better now.  So thanks, M, although we doubted you, and maybe even mocked your crazy idea, we  now know you were onto something!

***DISCLAIMER*** Please don't use this information as a substitute for visiting a medical professional.  If you decide to buy the oil of oregano drops please don't use for more than a couple of weeks at a time.   Take a least a couple of weeks off the stuff before starting again.  It can be too much for your gastrointestinal tract and kill off the good bacteria.  As with many supplements, it can be tough on the liver if taken too often or in dosages that are too high.  Research it from reliable sources if you want more information.

I feel like I have just posted an informercial with the disclaimer at the end.  I guess many years of working in the healthcare field has taught me to always cover myself.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

December in a nutshell...then a bit of January

As per usual I am behind on blogging.  I sometimes think about throwing in the towel on blogging, but since we have family and friends all over the world, it just seems like a good way to keep in touch.  Not to mention my husband has a colleague that reminds him when we are behind on updating our blog :)

So here goes.  Hang on for the ride.  I should mention, that in November our beautiful daughter Rykauna turned 14!  Hard to believe, but the numbers don't lie.  We are looking forward to what God has in store for our eldest.  It is fun watching her grow and mature.

December rolled in with a wicked flu for Steph and I.  Unfortunately we shared it with my mother-in-law as well.  I was a good ten days of feeling under the weather.  I was shocked to get so sick seeing as I got the flu shot.

On the 9th of December, I turned 38.  A birthday I have been sort of dreading for many years.  Most people dread the big 4-0 but not me.  My mom was diagnosed with cancer around the time of her 38th birthday and died a few months later.  I know that the type of cancer she had was not considered to be one with a genetic link, but...  Yeah, let's not go there. It is also difficult to realize/think about how young she truly was at the time of her transfer to heaven.  It also makes me realize what a privilege it is to grow old.  Many of us dread it, but it truly is a privilege not offered to all.

Two days after my monumental birthday, Logan turned 12.  Yup, our second born is one year away from being a teenager!  He is presently growing like a weed and threatening to catch up height-wise to Rykauna.   His reliability and willingness to help Steph and I with work around the house is such a blessing to us.  May God continually bless him too!

Mid December, Steph and I were given tickets to Les Miserables .  Our generous friends joined us for the event and a great time was had by all!  The story of grace is so strong in this musical...beautiful.

The kids got out of school on the 19th of December and on the evening of the 21st we were hit with the  longest power outage I can honestly remember ever experiencing.  Around  7:30pm we heard on the news that due to freezing rain causing damage to wires and transformers, power outages were likely to occur.  One hour later our house was plunged into blackness.  We dug around for flashlights and candles, moved our meat and a few other perishables from the fridge to the porch, and found some more blankets to pile on the beds.  We had  been told the power could be out  for as long as 72 hours so we were not surprised to find the floors cold in the morning.  Church services had to be cancelled due to the lack of electricity, and the treacherous road conditions.  Actually the walk to the car was probably the most dangerous.  Our entire yard, and our cars, were covered in an inch of ice.  Many trees were creaking eerily and groaning under the  added weight of the ice on all the branches.  Many tree branches were falling to the ground, large limbs were snapping off and several trees either fell over or snapped in two.  Our neighbourhood looked like a frozen tornado whirled through it.  Thankfully my mother-in-law's apartment, which is at the back of our house, has a gas fireplace.  She was able to turn it on as it has a remote battery starter and we were able to stay warm in her little space.  The rest of the house was very chilly.  By Sunday night it was down to 11C.  We bundled the kids even warmer in heavy pyjamas, socks and sweaters and bunked down for a second night sans heat.  The next morning, the 23rd, I was scheduled to work day shift.  I can honestly say I have never looked forward to working like I did that day.  I knew I was heading to a hospital that, although running on back-up power, was warm!  After over 36 hours of being semi-chilled most of the time I got to work and started to sweat profusely.  The hospital was quite warm and the swing in temps was proving to be a lot for my not-so- temperature- adaptable system.  I changed into fresh scrubs and set to work.  I ended my shift with a nice long hot shower before heading home again.  Steph ended up spending most of the day at the mall then at some friends of ours' place (who had power) doing laundry in view of our next day departure to the north.  Thankfully, five minutes after I arrived home Monday night, the power was restored.  The house temp was 8.3C and we had decided that we would stay over at our friends' home if the power did not return.  I was able to put on my winter coat and finish up the packing while our furnace worked overtime to try to reheat the place.

On Christmas Eve we traveled up to Northern Ontario  with all our presents, a cousin and her dog for a very traditional white Christmas.  We spent our time surrounded by friends and family and the children were able to make some great memories.  On Christmas Day, fifty-five of my relatives gathered at my cousin's lakefront home.  An area of the lake had been cleared off and made into a good ol' fashioned ice rink, fit with hay bales and a fire for warming up around.  Li Lin just loved skating... so much so that after nearly three hours she had to be talked into coming back into the house.

On Boxing Day, Steph, my brother, my brother's father-in-law, my neice, and our two youngest, headed out for an afternoon of ice fishing.
Some kind strangers power -augered some holes for them to fish through, but Hudson wanted to try the hand auger.  He showed some amazing determination as he hand- augered through about twenty inches of thick ice.  After nearly a half-hour of hard work he hit water! Li Lin just loved being out in the snow again.  I stayed home with my sister-in-law and the rest of the kids... in the warmth! :)
Hudson hamming it up!
On the 27th we spent a lovely lunch at my Aunt and Uncle's place.  The kids had fun swimming in their hot tub before we went back to my brother's to enjoy a visit with another cousin's family.  At supper time we met at the local college, where a group of nearly one hundred relatives gathered for a pizza supper and a time of visiting and enjoying the gym facilities. Lots of fun was had by all... not to mention how great it was to catch up with some relatives I had not seen in a while.

On the 28th, my parents had to head back home.  It was nice spending time with them and my two little siblings.  In the late morning we then bundled up and headed to the local ski hill.  We met up with more cousins at the hill and enjoyed a great day of downhill skiing.  It was both Hudson and Li Lin's first time on skis.  They both caught on well and loved it.  I had forgotten my ski jacket, and since my skiing skills are such that I am not a strong skier, I hung out in the chalet with my cousin while my bro and hubby taught Hudson and Li Lin how to ski.  Later on in the day, I took Li Lin to the bunny hill, and let her ski without anyone holding on to her.  I ran along down the gently sloping hill beside her ready to dive in front of her if she started to ski out of control.  She was so proud of herself!

On the 29th we went to church, left immediately after (with a lovely bag lunch made by an aunt and cousin) and started the long drive south.  Along the way home we had a lovely supper and visit with one of the families we went to China with.  It was such a pleasure to meet up with them again.  Next, we dropped Rykauna off at a three-day, church youth New Year's event, and continued on home.

I spent the 31st and 1st nights working night shift :(    My father-in-law arrived on the 31st and joined Steph and the kids for a New Year's Eve get-together at a friend's place.

On the second of January, the kids were thrilled with the news that as part of their Christmas present, Grandpapa had purchased all of us tickets to the  Disney, musical, Aladdin.  Needless to say, the kids loved it!  (The big kids enjoyed it too!)

Over the next few days, we spent some time doing much needed housework and little handyman jobs that have been sitting around.  Rykauna and I were blessed to hear a challenging, thought-provoking missionary report by a friend working in Zambia.

We are now back to some semblance of routine.  After battling two rebounds of the flu (or else three different bugs) Steph and I finally seem to be in the clear.  My mother-in-law is still battling the third round of illness.  Hopefully she will be in the clear soon too.  It seemed we were really struggling to get over these colds so... I broke down and bought it.

Bought what?  Stay tuned for the next post.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

A twist on trick or treating... and a royally good time

October 31st has in recent years not been a day I look forward to.  I guess I have a hard time getting excited about a day that probably brings God more sorrow than any other day of the year.  I understand that for many people it is an innocent time of costumes and candy...I do not judge anyone for feeling it is a great day. For me personally, it is a day I am happy when it is over for another year. 

Before the evening's events, the kids went to my mother-in-laws for their annual trick-or-treating. 
This year, Grandmaman surprised the kids by arriving at the door dressed up as an old lady in a showercap, cane, low-lying spectacles, and a housecoat.  Li Lin was even a bit scared of the get-up! Lin Lin was clinging to big bro, Logan. Then, in a weak, faltering, voice Grandmaman beckoned them to come in and sit around her and her fireplace as she read to them a costume story with an absolutely surpising and hilarious ending. They enjoyed their large treat bags and then the older two kids stayed home with Dad while the younger two left with me.

After an open offer from a friend on Facebook, Hudson, Li Lin and I joined her, her children and another family for a visit to a local Christian nursing home.  We all brought along goodies, and with the kids dressed up in costumes (as well as two dogs in costume) we went from room to room and offered up fruit kebobs, baked treats, and chocolates to the residents.

My friend's motto she teaches her kids is that "it is more blessed to give than to receive".  Seeing the look of pure joy on the seniors' faces definitely bore that out.  The older people just loved seeing the children dressed up and loved petting the friendly dogs.  It was a fun way to go door to door without having to contend with a stash of candy later (Li Lin's teeth can't handle much candy) and much more rewarding.  Giving is way more fun than getting! We were definitely blessed by my friend's desire to do this for others.

Today, we planned an afternoon of visiting the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.  We took along a couple of friends including a couple visiting from China.  It was especially fun for the kids to pet and feed goats, watch livestock being groomed for showing, check out prize-winning vegetables- including a 960lb pumpkin, and watch some cows in  competition.  We also watched some more unique shows like "Goats on the go" and a rabbit jumping show.

The rabbit show was, well, entertaining in a not so good way.  Steph and I were splitting our sides watching these rabbits absolutely bomb their jumps, try to "go on strike", and basically mess up constantly. Not to mention, every rabbit did the very same "trick".  It was one of those rare  moments when I was happy our Chinese guests spoke no English.  At least they did not have to try to make up some compliment of thanks for the rabbit show.  I would have felt sorry for them if they felt they had to comment in a positive way about the show.  One positive comment could have been, "Well, I was thrilled it only lasted thirty minutes!"  It was a bit embarrassing for us to take them to see a show that was so pathetic.  I am sure they were thinking, is this what Canadian's find entertaining?!?

I guess the answer was "yes" because Steph and I had been howling with laughter.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Fall happenings

Well remiss would be an appropriate word to describe my blogging this fall.  Yes, I fell off the bandwagon.  I guess when we get busy, blogging just goes out the window.  That's my excuse anyways:)

The kids have also been busy.  Here's the rundown.


Our eldest has done such an amazing job settling into her new high school.  On top of rocking her semester she has taken on a very big challenge this year.  Mandarin.  It is a one night a week course that lasts the whole school year through and will ultimately give her a ninth credit this year if she continues in it.  It was listed as a beginner Mandarin credit course.  Since it is offered in the board just north of us, she had to wait to join once all local students were given the chance to join the course.  This meant she joined two weeks later than everyone else.  On top of that, all the other kids except for two others, all speak fluent Mandarin!  These kids in Rykauna's class are not taking the Mandarin course for native speakers because they do not read/write Mandarin.

So yeah, Rykauna is at a huge disadvantage.  But... she managed to comfortably pass last week's test!  Not bad for a girl who does not speak, read, or write mandarin.  The teacher was very impressed.  This course is going to stretch her brain more than any other class she takes this year!  We are pleased she is willing to work so hard at learning this language.  Having Rykauna studying Mandarin has been a great encouragement for Li Lin to learn mandarin too.  After all, what little sister does not want to be like her teenage big sister.


Middle school has gone extremely well for Logan.  He too has settled in well.  Logan has managed to have very little homework so he is a happy guy!  With all his free time, Logan is often a big help around the home.  He can bake, cook, clean... I  tell him that one day some woman will be so thrilled to have a hubby (like mine) that is so helpful around the home.  He still much prefers to shoot a ball around or play video games, but he capably, and willingly helps me often for which I am grateful.


Hudson has been running cross country for most of September and into the early part of October.  He has shown amazing dedication to the sport (that you couldn't pay me to join as a student). 

Yup.  Every single school day in Sept and early Oct he ran during his lunch recess to train for the meet.    He told me one day that he was the only grade three boy that was trying out for cross-country.  I asked him when he plays with his friends.   "During the other two recesses.  But, at lunch I run cross-country."

A couple of days before the race I was concerned he was coming down with a cold so I sent him to bed early one night to try to stave off the cold. He happily agreed to head to bed because, as he said, "Mom, I have to run.  I am representing all the grade three boys from my school." :)

I had told him that no matter how he did during the run, Steph and I were proud of his efforts and dedication.  As I was unable to attend the run, my in-laws thankfully took him to the run and watched him race.  When I saw Hudson later in the day, I told him we should text Steph and tell him about  his run.  This is what he texted Steph from my phone. "I am proud of myself. I came in 123."  

Out of about 300 grade three boy runners...very good indeed. On top of his swimming lessons, which he takes just after Li Lin, Hudson is in no danger of being under-active this fall.

Li Lin

Li Lin is loving kindergarten.  She evens admits to liking it now.  Other than coming home with new  pets  like snails and ladybugs (in hands or pockets) , all is going well on the school front. 

She adores one of the little boys in her much so, that I have had to teach her not to kiss him or hug him anymore. :) 

A couple of weeks ago she had a dental check-up.  I was not expecting the results I got.  She needs over $2800 worth in dental work on her teeth.  On top of that, she will need to be put out under general anesthesia for the multiple fillings, cappings, etc.  The dentist asked me if I feed her lots of candy.  I told him we did not as we were aware that cleft-affected children tend to have poor dentition and are cavity prone.  We have definitely upped our dedication to thorough flossing and brushing with her though, since this appointment. On the upside, our insurance company is covering over $2700 worth of the cost.  Thank God...especially since she is having the work done just before Christmas.  It might have been a very lean Christmas for the family had we had to pay the bulk of the cost.

Li Lin also started speech therapy again.  I am much happier with the speech therapy program she is in now.  It is specifically geared to kids with cleft-related speech difficulties.  I am hopeful that this one-on-one time with a therapist who only works with cleft kids will really improve her speech.  I understand 99% of what she says but adults her do not know her sometimes struggle at times to understand her.  Interestingly enough, other children have no problem communicating with her.

Her Mandarin studies this year are taking the form of Chinese family immersion once a week.  One of my dear Chinese friends from our church has offered to take her for a couple hours a week and have Li Lin "hang out in a Chinese family, eat dinner with them, and just live normal everyday Mandarin stuff like, book reading, cartoons, and talking.  The bilingual family only speaks Mandarin while she is there thus encouraging her to use her Mandarin (which she is reluctant to speak).  My friend has told me that she already can see a big difference in Li Lin's speaking in only a couple of weeks of visits.  Since she spoke fluent Mandarin at adoption, we know it is all there in her mind, we are just trying to pull it back out.  Thankfully, it seems to be working.  I like the fact that she is learning traditional Chinese family life at the same time.  She likes my friend and looks forward to seeing their pet rabbits once a week.

So that is about it on the kid front.  We had a busy Thanksgiving weekend with both family and friends.  Although we feel exhausted at times, we both feel very blessed and thankful to our Father in heaven for the many blessings He has given us.