You’re still here!
Let’s see if I can sum up the last 2 months . . .
We have now been home from the Congo for 10 months. Our kids are both now speaking in sentences, with Palmer completely comprehensible. Addie speaks with enthusiasm, although we’re never quite sure about what.
Addie finished educational testing. She now qualifies for speech and occupational therapy and will get an IEP. They say that they are still a little baffled by her because she has mastered more advanced skills for which she doesn’t have the basics. (She can hop on one leg for over a minute, but she cannot stand on one leg. This sort of thing happens academically too.) She has completely caught up with her gross motor skills. If you had seen her try to run or climb stairs in the first month she was home, you realize how miraculous this is. We hope to make similar progress in other areas, but it’s beginning to look like Addie is always going to need some extra help.
Palmer finished out the school year with a top award from the school: The Triple A Achiever for the overall school — academics, attitude, and attendance. He won a huge giant green frog stuffed animal. He still is behind his classmates, but his teacher recognized that his effort to try to catch up was remarkable. The first day after school ended, he begged to continue to work on schoolwork. So we’re working through some online learning programs with both of them, and have enrolled them both in a summer academic enrichment camp. Today was their first day, and they loved it.
Part of me wrestles with how much the kids have to do and work at. Not only the last year of school, when they both skipped a grade, but the 6 and 8 years prior to that when no one introduced them to numbers, or read them bedtime stories, or made sure their toys weren’t tainted with lead. They didn’t get the benefit of learning the language they are being educated in until they got to America. There are a million snuggly, enriched, carefully crafted moments that our kids missed out on. They have to make up for lost time. They have told us so many stories that make me shudder — and they don’t even know that all kids didn’t grow up the way they did. So sometimes they struggle with sitting still, or recognizing social cues, or trusting us as parents. I’m thankful for all the people in their lives who give them the extra grace that they missed out on the first 6 and 8 years of their lives.
I’ve now received my third injection of Xolair. I still have the same yucky cough, but my fever is better. My cough almost went away in the last few weeks, and then I had a bad weekend and it’s back. They say I should start noticing a difference in how I feel after month 3. I’m still waiting for the $10,000 worth of treatment to kick in. Most of the time, I feel okay. Some of the time I feel plain awful, and I still get random infections. Case in point: on Addie’s 7th birthday, I woke up with a raging case of bacterial conjunctivitis. I’ve never seen anything like it. My eye was swollen shut and goopy, fever, nausea, vomiting. But a little girl only turns 7 once. (Well, actually that might not be the case for Addie, ahem.) Anyway, so I pretended to be well for an hour that evening because I didn’t have the energy to actually make any food, and we went to a dark Rainforest Café Restaurant and ordered the VOLCANO! for dessert. On the way back to the car, Addie asked me why my eye was gross. Because I like to do things really special for your birthday, Addie, like get a facially mutilating infection and appear in public. Isn’t that what every 7 year old girl wants for her birthday?
Addie and Palmer were presented for dedication in church at the end of April. While we’ve always recognized them as God’s children, we had to wait for a time for our kids to trust us enough to allow us to present them in front of the church. Given some of the things they have experienced in the past, this was pretty scary for them, but they did great! My parents flew out from Oregon, and my Aunt Nettie came down from Kentucky, making it all the more special.
Both kids played Upward soccer this spring and both did very well. Addie was quite good, in spite of the fact that she really only learned to run less than a year ago. Palmer excels at soccer, and now that he actually comprehends the rules of the game, he has been able to combine his skills with strategy and is a force to be reckoned with on the field.
Somewhere in the midst of all of this academic testing, award-winning, injection-receiving, relatives- having-in, soccer-playing, and infection-getting, I was promoted to the Director of our PA Program. I still have mixed emotions about this. On the one hand, what an honor! On the other hand, I’m drowning in work. We’ve had three and a half administrative faculty leave this year due to illness, retirement, family issues, etc. and I have a enormous task of taking on much of their jobs, delegating when I can, but most of it just has to be done by me. In the past fourish weeks, I have filmed a baccalaureate video, redesigned and edited the student handbook, coordinating a hooding ceremony, said good-bye to two employees, hired a new faculty member, helped coordinate our program’s first ever-indoor graduation because the outdoor one got rained out, took 11 students to an awesome conference in Atlanta about serving the poor through healthcare and debriefed them, written a magazine article, reworked our ACLS/PALS courses with a new team of instructors from out-of-state, conducted a two day orientation for new PA students who just started classes last week and managed the process of getting them started in a new Program, took part in alumni board meeting, negotiated a new position for our Program and the clinic for which I hope to be hiring soon, helped work on a neighborhood restoration project, staff a 12 week class exclusively with guest lecturers and an overseeing adjunct, continued to see patients in the clinic, negotiated several contracts for student software purchases, finished putting together and submitting a 116 page accreditation document with 28 supporting documents, and many other things that fill the spaces in between. And we are just getting started on the busiest time of year. Things are hard now, but they are going to be oh so good when we can catch up, adjust to the changes, and move forward with confidence that this is exactly what God had in mind. I know it seems a little crazy — to me too– but God has spoken to me about not wasting a vision, and how many examples scripture holds of God calling the weak and unsure so that only He would be glorified. I’m excited to see where God is leading. And slightly overwhelmed.
Ken just finished up his second year of Upward Sports. Last year, Ken worked 5 nights a week. This year, he worked 4. That’s in addition to working Saturdays and Sundays. Trying to balance that much work on the part of both of us has been exhausting. Ken and I almost never have a day off together, and barely have any evenings together. Those projects like: cleaning the basement, taking the kids to a museum as a family, sorting the junk mail, visiting friends who live out of town, or spending a day lounging in pajamas never happen. Add to the equation two new kids with some very unique needs, my illness and work challenges, and we are just . . . broken. It’s hard enough to do everything if both of us had “normal” jobs, but with nearly opposite schedules we needed a change. As God-honoring as both our jobs are, I don’t believe that God is honored when our fragile family is being stretched so thin. Yes, our kids are resilient, but haven’t they also had to deal with more then their fair share already? So Ken asked to take a salary cut and go part-time. And fortunately, the church said yes. It was a very painful — and costly — decision. Honestly, had it been me (the wife) going part-time, I don’t think it would have been as controversial, but I have benefits and salary that could absorb Ken going part-time. The opposite wasn’t true. We needed a new plan to make our family function more healthfully. So we’re tightening our belts and giving Ken working part-time a try.
So that’s the latest from our family, and a bit of an explanation of why we’ve been silent. I haven’t had a Saturday off since April, and my evenings have been packed as well, and I’m just starting a new semester. I hope that one day, things will slow down for us, but for now, we are continuing to trust in God’s guidance for our lives personally, and as a family.
Here are some photo highlights from the last 2 months . . .