Sunday, January 26, 2014

Let the Birthdays Begin

We have a rash of birthdays this time of year.  Every large family seems to have at least a couple times of year where the birthdays are back to back.  It's debatable whether our family is "large" or not; depends who you're talking to.   But our first birthday of 2014 is Maggie's.  Maggie turned eleven years old this week which is utterly  INCONCEIVABLE  to those of us who were there when it happened  (Were you there when it happened?  How does that make you feel?).  If I started in on all the thoughts and memories, well, this post would run into next week or so.  And my heart can't take it anyway.   
I began talking with the kids on Maggie's birthday and they asked to see Maggie's slideshow from when we first met her.  So we watched that one, and then of course each of the kids (well at least each of the kids who have a slideshow) wanted to see theirs.  And then I was such a weepy mess my head hurt so we had to stop.  And no, I don't have slideshows for all of my kids yet.  And I don't have baby albums, nor have I finished Maggie's 100 Wishes quilt yet.  But most of their laundry is clean and somewhere in the house, and as far as I remember they did all eat dinner tonight so lighten up people.  I am still waiting for my Amazon order of four more hands, two extra lives, and a clone.  

Let's start with our beautiful Magdalene Ruth Limaio:

For the few who may not know, we met Maggie in November of 2003 when she was ten months old.  We were in Hunan province of China.  God only knew what it was all starting.  

Our first view of Maggie:

And my first hour with her:

Okay, that's all I can take.  Moving right along...

Maggie requested to go ice skating for her birthday.  So we sent her skating with all the people who are able to skate (and I use that term loosely) so she went with Eden, Canaan, Candice and Hannah.   A few shots:

With great appreciation to Hannah and Canaan and Candice for taking them because I sucked at skating even when I grew up in Canada and my dad made skating rinks in the back yard every year.  Go figure.  

Then back home for one of Maggie's favorite meals and cake:

 Maggie holding up the traditional eleven digits.

Maggie requested snickerdoodle cookies for her birthday this year.  So I made the cookies and I also found a recipe on Pinterest for a snickerdoodle cake.  So I made the cake and we decorated with the cookies.  She did want to try piping it herself.  

I was not real impressed with the recipe for the cake, but the frosting was incredible.  

Maggie and Si have a bond unlike any others.  They've been buds from the start.  

Besides the ice skating, she also got a horses book from us.  She loves horses.  She also got some of her favorite treats from her brothers and sisters, and a couple of great outfits from Candice and Canaan, plus a promised trip to the mall with Hannah.  

So two days later, we have Micaiah's birthday.   For those of you who have been following, you know the significance of this day.  He turned 16 today.  Had he still been in the Ukraine, he would have been stuck there for the rest of his life with no ability or chance to escape.  He would have stayed in the rural mental institute he was living in until he reached the age of 35, where he would have been transferred to another institute to live out his days.  

However, he never would have made it to that 35.  It gives us chills to realize that he very literally would likely have not made it to this 16th birthday.  He was in renal failure, even though we did not know it.  It is the blessing and mercy of God to him that he even made it home on the plane.  And a little over a week after he came home, in the beginning of last December, he was sent to the ER of the local children's hospital and has been there ever since. 

We would never have believed he would still be there on his birthday.  We did not even think he would be there for Christmas.  But be that as it may, we went out to see him today for his birthday.

Since our finances are very tight from all the additional expenses of bringing he and his brother home, and all the medical expenses, and all the many needs of raising all of these children, we were scratching our heads as to what on earth we could give him for his birthday.  He received loads of donated presents at the hospital at Christmas.  I was even embarrassed to give him the few things we had for him since he had so much more piled up everywhere in his room.  So what could we possibly give him for his birthday?

Once again, my husband comes to the rescue with a great idea.  As we've shared, Micaiah loves to listen to music on his tablet.  But he does not really dig the ear buds he has to wear to listen to it.  So we got him a nice pair of padded earphones.  We also brought him a couple dozen cupcakes from Sam's.

I hoped he would like them, but I was really quite gratified to see the delight on his face when he opened them.

Happy boy!

Now, backing up a little to an unhappy part.  

When we arrived at the hospital today, they told us he was upset.  He was being moved to a new room two doors down, so we initially assumed he might be upset about that.  I came into the room and came up behind him and he was crying.  He hadn't seen us come in, and I put my arms around him.  Then the nurse started to explain that when he was being moved, they heard a little crack when transporting him, and he was very upset about his leg.

The facts:  Micaiah cannot feel from the waist down.  
He has had several breaks and fractures in his legs and feet over the years.  His legs are quite misshapen because of this.
Can paraplegics feel pain when their legs break?  We don't know.  But he was quite upset.
I looked at his leg.  This leg was already bent due to a previous fracture, however, it seemed to be much more out of shape, at a different angle, and I could pick up his leg and move places that didn't move earlier.  So basically, I think we arrived just as his leg had broken.

He said he felt pain, but he should not have felt pain even if it had broken, but he may have felt a great degree of fear realizing what had happened.  No, I am not sure of any of this. Why would this cause him fear?  There is just so much speculation.  Maybe because if he had a fracture at the institute that he would have been bedridden for several weeks afterwards.  We do not know for sure and still do not.  We requested an x-ray, and at the time we left he still had not had one done.  I will reserve my opinion about that until I see what happens. 

I will say that after I mothered him accordingly, he moved on to other things.  I requested a pain reliever for him.  Whether he was actually in pain or not, a pain reliever certainly could not do any harm.  We are still waiting to hear the results of the x-ray.  In the mean time, you can see his leg in this photo:

I am positive it was not at this great of an angle before.  If it's not one thing...

Yes, he is 16, but let's all just forget about that for a moment.  Let's look at the delight on the face of this little boy, and just leave it at that.  

We stayed for quite a while.  The play rooms on each floor are maintained by volunteers who lock them up on weekends.  Like weekends are not times that sick kids need to play.  Well, I will try to not be critical. We walked him to various floors in the hospital.  The have a really cool play area on the top floor, but it is outdoors and he was just too cold.  So we walked around other areas.  

Then we played with one of the remote control cars that he got from the hospital for Christmas.  I took some video at this point.  There is so much you can get from video that you can't get from photos.  I am trying to upload it to youtube but it is taking a really long time.  There is video of Levi there as well.  Levi and Micaiah continue to not communicate with each other.  I think there is some irony in all of that, but I won't elaborate.  Who knows/  And there's nothing we can do about it anyway.  I try not to make sense of too many things.  If I were suddenly plucked out of all I knew and set down in a foreign country where everything was different and nobody spoke my language and then I came across someone who did speak my language, I can assure you; I would speak to them!  But not these two.  I don't get it, but it's what it is right now.  

So he is doing very well.  He has been transferred to a new room because right now, he is stable and his needs are not extreme.  We will begin our training next Monday.  He probably needs this extra week as they continue to tweak his levels on his dialysis.  He was quite happy with us today, and his attitude and demeanor was honestly better than anything we had witnessed up until now.  

And it is morning now and my youtube video has finally uploaded.  I think some may find it interesting to see several of my kids interacting with him.  And for the Levi fans, he's in there to.  
Click Here for video

We also did not have any update on Micaiah as of about midnight last night.  We called and they still haven't xrayed.  (seriously?)  Will update more later.

So a few more photos that I found as I was updating.  Here is a great picture of Maggie and Silas:

Yes, Levi continues to do great. He takes care of his chickens every day and we are getting plenty of eggs!  We did not expect that!  

Each day he learns more and more about what it means to be part of a family.  He is eating great and growing.  He is still a very happy and cooperative kid.  Everyone loves Levi.

Well, some of it you have to take with a grain of salt.  Right now he still really enjoys pretending to have hair, no matter what he finds to make it, and he loves to wear Kiki's play shoes.  Maybe he thinks he is being a chicken, we don't know.  He likes a lot of strange things right now, but so what?  He will outgrow what he needs to, and we always have to keep in mind all that he has missed over the years.  I am delighted to give him the opportunity to work it all out.  

Meanwhile, according to the uploading of all my photos, I could show you scores of pictures of Ruby sleeping.  But I will share this one of her curled up sleeping with the Paterfamilia.  He is not a big cat guy, but he is a big animal guy.  She found a cozy spot, and I don't blame her!

This is why I don't get any work done.  I left the room for a moment and come back to find this.  

Ruby is bigger than this now, but I found this photo from when she first came home and can't resist sharing it.  Hey, at least she isn't sleeping.  She is a sweet little kitty and one of the few joys in our lives right now.  We are thankful for her.   

So, we have two more birthdays coming this week:  Hannah and Laz.  Will try to update more pictures next week.    In the meantime, we appreciate your prayers more than you could know.  This is a path I never expected or wanted to walk, and yet, here I am!  I want to finish well with what I have.  



  1. Happy Birthday, Micaiah! (Maybe sometime you can read my daughter, Pam's, birthday post this year . . . and last year (she included last year's birthday post at the bottom of this year's birthday post);

    I am so glad you're home this year, even if "home" is currently a hospital room. Better than your last 15 birthdays, I'm sure.

    I've been praying for you for over 3 years (and for your family, ever since they "found" you, and through all your long journey home, and this hospital stay), and will continue to do so. Like Pam, I know God has great plans for your life.

    Art and Alynn . . . the God we serve is far bigger than the challenges you're facing right now. He understands all the details, and will give you the strength you need to carry on from day to day (and even from second to second). I think of all of you often during the day, and pray for you.

    Thank you for stepping in for Micaiah and Levi (even though I didn't "know" him until you added him to your adoption). I don't want to even think about what might (and likely would) have happened to Micaiah if you hadn't been willing to take that leap of faith!

    Cleveland, TN

    P. S. Happy Birthday to Maggie, Hannah, and Laz, too!

  2. Very precious how the children interact with each another. You have a most special family. Is this not disturbing for other patients, their families and the nursing staff? Forgive me but running up and down hospital hallways and crashing toys into the walls seems very disrespectful. 

    1. Yes, actually I was very concerned about that. I asked the nurses if what they were doing was okay. Turns out there were not any patients in the area that they were playing. They only played in that hallway for about ten minutes, and that's what I videoed. The nursing staff actually spoils him a lot and encouraged the kids to go out in the hallway that night. I would think you would give me the benefit of the doubt that I would have considered this. Seems no matter how difficult things are, there is always someone that still wants to criticize and assume the worst of you.

  3. The Levi chicken thing is hilarious! I imagine he would take a lot of pride in having in having his job and obviously he enjoys it, but of all the things.... I think it's great, but funny.

  4. Seems like your kiddos had fun birthdays! I'm sorry to hear about Micaiah's leg. My brother is paraplegic and he can certainly feel pain in his legs if it is severe, so I wouldn't be surprised if Micaiah felt pain. It doesn't seem like his leg would benefit from casting a break but I'm glad you got pain meds for him.

  5. Oh, how I remember seeing that first photo of Maggie!!! What a beautiful young lady she's become. And how the time flies.