Thursday, December 18, 2014

Biopsy Results

We have not received a full report yet because Sam's lead Dr is having another Pathologist examine the results, but we do know that our dear little son's liver has sustained scarring and that he will have to begin treatment in January in an attempt to stop or at least slow down the damage. 

There is only one FDA approved treatment for kids his age, but there are also some decent clinical trials. We are very appreciate that his Drs are taking their time and thoroughly evaluating which treatment would be best. They are all, unfortunately, harsh treatments with harsh side-effects (some are chemo-like) and are NOT guaranteed to work, but at least we have some options.

Sometimes I just want so badly to wake up and find this was all a bad dream. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014


John's employer sent Sam a balloon & bear bouquet. I LOVE these pictures of our happy boy! He is crazy for balloons! 

With big brother, Mark

With Nathan & Mark

Friday, December 5, 2014

Hospital Visit

Sam had a liver biopsy this week. It went well! We are so thankful for all the wonderful staff at the children's hospital! 

Before procedure

All done, resting in the PICU (where we stayed overnight)

Awake in PICU and feeling pretty good

After spending the day and night in PICU, I got new perspective on how much we have to be thankful for. My heart is heavy for all the struggling children and fearful, exhausted families we left behind there. 

Now, we wait on biopsy results. The overall impression we got was that things looked pretty good (yes!) but we really will have to wait on the results.

Sam is home and feeling spunky. You'd never know he had been at the hospital except for his bandages. We are THANKFUL! 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Soccer At The Beach

We were excited to go on a mini family-get-a-way to Wimington for a soccer tourney. I LOVE the beach but it was a bit weird to be there with the palm trees, wearing my winter coat! Brrrr! It was cold! 

But, we had FUN! We visited a wonderful, kid-friendly aquarium and the older boys also toured the S.S. North Carolina with John. There was time for us to loll around our hotel room and watch movies together too. So nice. 

Luke's team played very well and came in second for their age group!  Whoot! Whoot!  

Here they are. Aren't they cuties?! Love those boys! 

This is how Sam spent a lot of his time on the green. 

He is loving stuffed animals right now. So, so cute! 

Monday, November 10, 2014


Yes, we are trying to process horrible news. God is helping us. It's messy though. I mean, seriously, I have questions and things I am so NOT OK with right now! I think God is totally OK with our messiness & I am so very thankful for that. 

Besides that though, we are LIVING! 

If you don't know Nathan, you are missing out. He is hilarious! This is what he decided to do today. It's nice out but NOT that nice. I love his zany sense of humor! 

We also had some Fall fun with dressing up, candy and pumpkins and several photo bombing incidents. I thought this one by Juneau was so funny! 

Another photo bomb by cute-dimpled-Luke! 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Sam's Health Update

We've been concerned about Sam's health for awhile now, maybe eight months, and have been doing labs every four weeks to monitor his liver. It all came to a head this week at the children's hospital when we met with his specialists. 

He will be admitted for a liver biopsy in the next week or two and then will begin six months of treatment/therapy with a chemo med. We will have to give him multiple injections at home every week that will very possibly make him feel awfully sick. Oh my, it hurts even to type that. My son. My sweet little son.

To be fair, we expected the biopsy would be scheduled. We were prepared for that, but we thought the therapy might not happen, that the biopsy results would look OK and that we could put that off. I mean, he is only four. But, his doctors are amazing, and very, very thorough and care about him, so we trust their decision that he should begin the meds too. 

So, we are trying to process it all. Our kids know what is going on, of course. We talk about everything. They asked, "Is Sam going to die?" We told them, "Not any time soon." That is what they wanted to know, the bottom line, so now they are fine. We are going to face it all together as a family with our ever faithful God.

So, I am relating to this God I know, and that I love, and that I trust, and that I also BEGGED not to let this happen to my son. Tough stuff! I have been down this road before though and I know I can process and be angry and have a big, big fit (and I will) and that God is plenty big enough to handle that. I also know I will continue on trusting Him. Implicitly. My only other choice is to not trust Him and that is not even an option for me. Not at all. 

So, we're preparing for battle around here. Battle for our son's health, battle to keep life as joy-filled and normal as possible, battle for our hearts to stay close to our Comforter and Strength. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Messes or Miracles?

I read this wonderful quote on FB today. It was a kind of a warning to not miss out on the miracles surrounding you because you are focused on the mess. What good advice for me! I love it and perhaps will put in on a wall somewhere in our home. 

It is very easy to become discouraged as I daily trip over the shoes, soccer gear, pets, toys, dirty laundry piles, swim goggles, dishes, construction zone (our addition project), school supplies for both the home schoolers and public schoolers in our family and more, knowing that I will not be able to conquer/fix it all since it will just keep on growing. 

If the mess is all I let myself see, I will be missing out on such pure, dear treasure. I live in the middle of so many miracles! John and I have been happily married for 19 years now, despite having been born and raised in different countries. I mean, what were the chances of us even meeting one another? Mark is our miracle baby. Luke and Nathan are our beloved treasures from Ghana. The story of how our little Sam came to us from Ukraine is incredible. Really, we are crazy, crazy blessed! 

So, I will still try to clean up, but I will keep my eyes & heart wide open and remember. 

I adore this saying that I found on Pinterest.

So, thank You God for blessing me with a home full of love, and energy and life. So it's very messy...and loud! So what?! I am blessed!  

Friday, October 17, 2014

Big Mac & Nathan's First-Ever Presentation

Nathan did his first-ever presentation at a public speaking class he goes to. Big Mac, his bunny, came along as the best prop ever. Nate did a good job and Mac surprised us by loving all the attention. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Fair

Every year I work with the kids on their fair projects and it is such a lot of work (and often very frustrating!!!!!) that I always wonder if it is even worth all the effort. But then we all go to the Fair and see their work on display and all their ribbons and we all enjoy it so much. So, I guess I'm convinced to try again next year too. 

Our littlest, Sam, won the purple rosette for his age group with a Christmas tree he made from a pot from Goodwill and some painted egg cups. 

All of us ribboned, even John and I. Fun! 

Luke and Nathan got to be in a play.

We went to a Colton Dixon concert (I was impressed.) and Sam got hilariously happy and kept trying to plant big kisses on his unwilling brother's face. So funny! 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Candy Making, Fall and More Vet Visits

 It's Fall and it's beautiful and we are playing soccer, and doing school, and making candy to enter at the Fair ( and 100 other things, despite our efforts to slow life down.) Luke made Peanut butter candy and Mark made Honey Butterscotch. It is so good, which is kinda dangerous...must get it out of our house ASAP! 

Sam has been doing so well going to pre-school that we have increased his hours, so now he goes three mornings a week. I am very thankful for amazing teachers and therapists. 

Our poor sick kitty, Jewel,  tested negative for ALL the tests our amazing vet did. Ugh! We put her on a broad spectrum anti-biotic as a last try and it is not working too well. :(  I think we are just going to take it one day at a time with her and make sure she enjoys her days as best she can. 

I am sick too. Every time the boys get a "bug" I seem to get it as well but worse and for longer, and antibiotics and steroids are often needed. This is a long term problem for me and the allergy shots I've been doing the last two years have helped but have not completely solved it all. I have also become allergic to gluten and soy. Weird! I am getting more opportunities for patience & trusting in God day by day, I'll tell you that. I long to be Wonder Woman who can do it all, but am learning to be content with life as it is. 

And now, for some darling pictures of my treasures...

I couldn't choose my favorite of these two. I love them both. The way my boys love each other means so very much to me, I can't think of the right words. 

Here's one more of those two, having a cuddle at a soccer game. 

I found this on Pinterst the other day and loved it. I think I need it on my wall. 

Monday, September 8, 2014


Time for school! Phew! That is a lot of work for me as I am continuing to home school the three oldest boys, ages 12, 10, and 9. Sam is going to an Exceptional Preschool two mornings a week. I am honestly a reluctant home schooler but it still remains the best option we can find for most of our kids. 

So, we are starting school with fair entries. Most of the boys have 20 + entries including candy making, fine art, simple weaving, woodwork, you name it. I want them to be well rounded and try out different kinds of art, so we do this every year. They aren't crafty and don't love it but they do love winning prize $ and seeing their work on display at the fair.

We are also back to their extra curriculars....swim team, soccer, public speaking class, and PE. It's busy but mostly fun.

We've also been hiking...

...and taking naps after pre- school. It wears a guy out, you know! 

Also, dressing up as pirate/Vikings...

On a sadder note, I think our little grey and white cat that we rescued just a few years ago, may be dying. She has been ill for awhile and is at the vet again today. They suspect feline leukemia or renal failure. Poor Jewel! Every life matters and we are sad for her....waiting on a phone call to see what they think.

She has always had this funny shocked expression!  Quirky girl! 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Family Reunion

I am from Canada & so, living in the Southern USA, I don't get to see my family often. It was such a special time to have us all together at the SC beach for a week this Summer. We celebrated my Dad's 70th birthday, played in the pools and at the beach, went fishing, rode bikes and just enjoyed each other's company. 

Luke's New Shoes

Luke had to pick out a new pair of shoes yesterday. He is growing so fast! He couldn't believe it when he later noticed that his name was in them! Cool! :D

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Beach Trip

It's not supposed to be good blogger etiquette to post several times a day, but I am getting updates done while I can! 

So....the beach trip

It was FUN! All six of us met my parents & my sister & her family (all from Canada) at the beach in SC for a wonderful week to celebrate my Dad's 70 th. 

My love for 19 years & counting

My two youngest beach bums

Mark, Sam & cousin, Tirzah

My Mom & Dad

Summer Fun

More of our Summer...

John is doing such a good job on our home addition! Roof is nearly all shingled and siding comes next.

Mark & Luke got to go flying with a friend of John's.

The three big boys LOVE fishing so we made time for that too.

It was a wonderful Summer that went by so quickly! This is our last week off & we are trying to get all prepared for Sam to attend pre-school two mornings a week & for the other boys to continue with me at home school. Soccer has begun too....guess it's time for Fall!

Birthday Boy Turns Four

Sam turned four! Whoot Whoot! 

Birthday cake with big brothers

Visiting the train museum...Sam loves trains right now

We had a fun day celebrating Sam's fourth b day. We're so thankful we get to be his family!

Monday, August 4, 2014

More Summer News

Camping! We went camping up in the NC mountains. It was a wonderful, fun break for our family & Sam's first time camping. 

I had foot surgery. Here's how I currently look. I call this my "devil boot". Yeah, I don't like it! I am, however, excited to be able to wear shoes again & get back to hiking with my family.

We also met with a new specialist at the children's hospital regarding Sam. She said we will do his labs for two more months for a total of six consecutive months. If they! If they continue to look crummy, he will have a liver biopsy. (Ouch! Poor baby!) That will be used to determine if chemo is needed at that time. If we ever have to begin chemo at least we will know we took all precautions & did our best to avoid it. We are thankful for his doctors & the hospital staff. They make being there as cheerful and as good an experience as possible. 

Sam is feeling pretty good and is having a fun Summer. He is speaking more recognizable words every week & can run fast! :D He thinks his brothers are hilarious and hogs the screen when we Skype.

We are focusing on truly LIVING every day & trusting our kind God to fill in all of our gaps. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Our Summer...

...has been going great mostly! We've been busy with all the three big boys' swim practices and meets. They have had a good season and Mark & Luke are both considering swimming full time throughout the year. 

Luke's adorable relay team 

We have been gardening too. The boys each have a raised bed and have been enthusiastic about growing their own food. I love that they are so interested.

Sam Update

Sam's labs, which we have been doing every 4 weeks, have continued to show a slow decline. :(  We are going back to the children's hospital at the end of July to do more tests and to see a third specialist. I've heard she is very good so I'm preparing a list of questions to ask her. We have been told to prepare for chemo & transplant but I have no idea what the time line is. Hopefully years!!!! Perhaps the Drs don't know either, but I'm hoping for more info so we can try to process and care for our precious son the best way we know how. We are trying to support his overall health with meds for weight gain, probiotics etc. He is feeling good overall and is a happy, sweet heart. He loves his family, Veggie Tales, chocolate, fruit, playing outside and at the pool. He is a wonderful kiddo and we are begging our amazing God to heal him, all the while knowing He may or may not. That is hard stuff to understand but we KNOW our God loves Sam deeply and we are trusting Him and trying not to live in fear. I think we are succeeding most of the time. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

More Lab Results

We are on a schedule of labs for Sam every four weeks right now. The results come in two parts and the most recent ones have been good news so far! Yes! We should hear about the rest soon & are feeling optimistic that chemo is not in his near future (& we hope NEVER!) We are so thankful for everyone's care & prayer! 

Otherwise, we are having a pretty happy Summer. The big boys are all on swim team so we are at the pool a lot. Sam was very cautious with water last Summer but he loves it this year. It's so much fun to watch him play happily at the local water park. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Good News

We are so thankful to share that we got good news today! There will be no harsh treatments for Sam for now. We will just continue to have his labs done every 4 weeks to monitor. The Drs want to avoid treatment for all long as safely possible and we agree. 

Thank You God!  

Now....back to concentrating on having a great Summer with lots of little boy fun! 

Saturday, June 7, 2014


We're still waiting on test results.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Oh My Heart!

Hello dear friends & family that read my blog. Thank you just for being there & for loving our family.

 Our story has been mostly up hill lately but I have decided to share it with you. 

Our dear little Sam had a rough start in life. Children are not always cared for well in orphanages. In spite of his past, he is a sweet, gentle (usually...he does have three brothers!) and charming three year old. He loves to create art, listen to music, play in the sand box and ride around on his Daddy's shoulders.

Sam also has a serious liver condition. Doctors thought it would not even be an issue for him (no symptoms, no meds needed) for several decades but we do routine blood tests every 6 months just to make sure. 

The last labs came back looking bad. Our hearts became like heavy awkward lumps that sunk down into our stomachs. Chemo-like meds. Transplant. Fear.

But God.....

 Seriously, we either trust Him or we don't. He gave us this little boy and He loves him more than we can imagine. We believe that even when our hearts are frozen with anxiety. We cling to that, to Him. 

So, we are re-doing all blood tests again next week. we want to make sure the bad results were not just an anomaly. We pray for healing. We trust. We also try to live every day, really live!  Like, go strawberry picking, play at the pool, bike ride. We don't want to let fear steal anything good from us and our boys. 

So, we hope and we pray for healing, for better results, for more time before we have to begin the harsh treatments. 

And we LIVE! 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Finally Back!

I am a severely non-skilled techie so my husband has saved me from the computer problems that were keeping me from blogging. 

So....the last three months...

Well, it snowed! A lot! Which isn't a big deal in some parts of the world, but is exciting here. 

Nathan and I worked on keeping Big Mac's fur tangle free (we are failing!) and gave him lots of snuggles. He is a very sweet bunny and isn't this picture CUTE!?

We, meaning John, are continuing the work on our home addition. Looking good! 

This sweet, tiny cat showed up. We didn't feed her at first, in hopes she was just visiting from a neighbor's barn, but when she appeared to be starving, we gave in. She has been named "Brook" and is as pretty as she is friendly. We're taking her to the vet next week and are seeking a loving indoor home for her. PLEASE contact me if you're interested. 

Sam impressed us with his artistry and understanding of symmetry when we discovered him with this get-up via crayola markers. Ha!