Saturday, March 24, 2012

I Can Play Toys!!

In the last couple of weeks Hyrum spends his whole day playing.  I mean really playing.  When we got him he had no idea what to do with a car, block or ball. We tried to teach him to race the cars across the floor but couldn't get why. He wouldn't throw a ball or play catch. He had no idea how to play pretend. He now goes to the play room and gets out the cars and will play with 20 at a time.  He puts the Lego guys in them and pushes them around the house.  He can't do this alone though so he has to have a playmate.  During the day it's always Bria.  He needs her so that while he is playing cars he has someone to pretend with.  They love to play dinner!! I think I feed the doll 5 times a day.

Hyrum is also obsessed with food. For the first couple of months I allowed him to eat whenever he wanted but I soon discovered that all he would do is snack and not eat his meals anymore. I decided that I would limit when he ate.  He seemed to do fine with that.  I was talking with a friend that has done international adoption many times and I was reminded that he still needed to be eating whenever he wanted so that he learned food was always available. He will come to me many times and ask "cracker, Mama Yea?" I will say yes and he says "Mama, Yea?" I tell him yes once again and he pumps his hand and gets excited and runs to the pantry.  I finally told him to just eat when he wanted to. 

The other day he came to me with crumbs on his face and I could tell he had been in the pantry. I had put the food up higher so that he couldn't get to it hoping he would make better food choices if he was limited. I asked him who gave it to him and he said he did.  So then I asked him to show me.  I walked in the pantry and he was climbing up on a bucket of rice to reach the higher shelf. He was so cute with his big smile reaching into the chip bag. He is getting so smart.

Hyrum pulled the bucket from under the shelf all on his own.

Bria had to join in the fun.

She climbed up on her own and when she discovered what she got she was very happy.

Hyrum was so proud of the fence he made.

New Chicks

We got new chicks. We have had chickens for about 6 years now. We have laying hens and have done meat chickens as well. This year our chickens slowed down in production so much that we gave them away while we were in China so the kids didn't have to worry about it and we wouldn't have to take care of them in the ice and snow. This would have been the winter to have good layers. It was so warm that the production would have stayed up. We ordered chicks off of the internet and they were shipped via US Postal Service. It is so weird to get chicken in a box. You really can get anything on the internet.

We ordered the chicks on a Friday and scheduled for them to be delivered on the next Friday. Wednesday morning we got a call from the post office.  Our chick were in.  We hadn't done anything to get ready for them.  The kids washed out the feeders and pulled out the playpen we keep chicks in while I went to the post office.  I dropped the chicks off with strict instructions not to hold them.  At this stage the chicks are most likely 24 hours old. I headed off to IFA and got food and sawdust. I spent the whole morning getting baby chicks settled into their new home.

The kids have had fun holding them.  They still like to feed them and get water but after the first cleaning of the mess no one wants that job again.  Cleaning has to be done often because they are in the kitchen and the smell can get bad if it goes too long.  The kitchen is not the ideal but the chicks have to be kept at 95 degrees for the first few weeks so going outside in our set up is not an option.  I know, it's pretty gross. Doreen would never do that (my sister).

 This years batch is the biggest we've had so we will expand the coupe and run to accommodate 25 chickens.  Hopefully we will get 18-20 eggs a day out of this.  It's amazing how many eggs we can consume.  I need 24 just to make scrambled eggs for breakfast. It would be nice to have extra to sell to the neighbors.  We are considering getting more.  We have also thought about doing meat chickens again this year but have made no progress there so we will just see what the spring and summer bring.

25 chicks show up in a 12"x12" box

Hannah with a baby chick.

Hyrum was very brave but still won't hold them even when he asks.

The chicks in their temporary home.

Creed usually sits at the end of the table but refuses to sit there next to the chickens. The kids are loving the opportunity to sit at the end of the table. :)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Second Cast

Monday we went back to Shriners to get another cast for Bria. We had to be there by 7:30am.  That means we picked the kids up out of bed, put them in the car and left by 6:50am. Hyrum was so excited to go. He has no idea what it really means for Bria and she wasn't quite as excited but had no problem. We went right in and they cut her cast off.  We were able to wash her up and get the dead skin off in hopes that she won't itch. She didn't want to get out of the water even though it was just a wash cloth and a faucet.  She loves water and can't go near it for now.

We had the same doctor as we had for the first cast, overseeing an intern. The doctor shaped the plaster cast on the foot then she turned wrapping over to the intern.  I stood there and watched this guy getting more and more frustrated at his inability to wrap a cast. the doctor had to intervene a few times and tell him things like "leave some room at the top so it doesn't rub her raw". He had no idea what she was talking about.  I think I will avoid using that intern as a doctor.  I would rather have someone with a natural ability not someone leaning from trial and error. The doctor's patience really impressed me. She was frustrated but didn't really let him see it.

After the cast was wrapped it was clear that Bria's pants we have been using for the previous two weeks would no longer work. I figured at least I could put her leggings on with a skirt or dress and still be ok.  I tried to get her leggings on and they wouldn't even go over her toes.  It was no use, pants and leggings were out. That night I had to stay up and make her a skirt long enough to cover her while she sat with her legs wide apart. So at 10:00pm I started and by 10:45pm, which was about 15 minutes longer than I should have taken, I was done. It really turned out cute and works perfectly. I wanted to make her more but found a box of clothes that I had saved from Malia and there were a lot of skirts with shorts attached and dresses that will work great.  Bria now has a new wardrobe. Anyone needing to do casting be aware that pants will not work with the cast and buy clothes accordingly.  Wider shorts like gym shorts are OK for the boys. They get over the cast just fine.

Right after check-in.

Hyrum loves this toy. It has magnets on the lizards and you can move them from the bottom.

The tool that is used for cutting the cast off is very loud and scary. Bria had not seen this before. I  put her on the  table  and they pulled out the saw before we knew what was going on. 

Bria started shrieking. I couldn't get her to calm down. 

She was pretty traumatized. There was no pain involved but like the dentist,
the  noises are enough to put you over the top. 

I don't remember the title Jilliam holds but she is the one in charge of keeping the kids happy and content.
She does a great job. She brought an IPad in and put on a show. Bria immediately stopped crying with that.

First, they wrap the whole leg with gauze. Based on where the raw spots are from the first cast they put extra gauze in some places. They then wet the plaster wrap and wrap it around her foot and half way up her calf. 

The doctor continually molds and massages the foot into position while the plaster sets.
They have to wait a few minutes before wrapping the other type of cast or the skin will burn.
Both the plaster and other material are heat set so if both are hot at the same time the heat gets trapped
and burns the skin.

The intern then wrapped the other cast material while the doctor kept Bria's leg in position.

This is a rendering of the casting process.

Our beautiful Bria with an ever brightening smile. She chose the green cast and loves her new skirt.

Bria has been walking on it now for 5 days and this cast is not holding up as well. The shape is different enough that she can't walk on the bottom of the cast so she walks on the toe. I hope this will last for another week and two days. We were told we could get fake Crocs to put over the cast but I just haven't gotten them yet. I guess I better make that a priority.

Discovering Art

Today we took some time to have fun.  We went down to Thanksgiving Point and toured Holdman Studios.  It was so cool! We got to watch as they made a bowl and then toured the whole shop. The kids sat and watched intently. I was happy to see that all but one of the kids sat still without being asked and no one touched a thing. A  glass shop is not the safest place to take 11 kids from the ages of 3 to 18. There were platters all over the walls and even a Christmas tree made of glass.  We were then taken to the back room where they make stained glass.  We were blown away at what they have going. If any of you live in the area or come to Salt Lake to visit this is a must see. Sorry I don't have pictures but you can see some of their stuff if you search eBay.  I loved that they also sell seconds for just $60 compared to the $350 a plate.

Holdman Studios also does classes.  They have a Friday night class that goes 5 weeks and they teach you how to do stained glass and let you make a project.  It sounds like a great date night idea. We can also pay $25 and make a glass flower. The kids were so excited about it.  I think Ressa and I were the most enthusiastic about learning how to do these things but Doug suggested that we take the stained glass class together. I would love to do that and have a piece in our home.

Since we are on the topic of art. I was able to take some time to sew. Malia just had her birthday and and she wanted a dress. I decided it would be easier to make something than to search and find a good dress to play in.  I got the idea off of the internet and Malia really liked it so I made it. I was pretty proud of myself because I had to make the pattern and it fits. Doug said it looks like a Mumu. I didn't think of that until after he said it so now I'm not as excited about the dress. Oh well, it did give me the bug again so I bought some fabric so that when I have a few minutes I can make something.  I still have to make a car seat canopy for a friend.  When that is done I will start creating.  I think I deserve the break.

She's a beautiful girl but a bit nervous about getting her picture taken.
I wish I was better at photography. It's amazing what some people can do.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Banana Bread Recipe

Here is my great banana bread recipe. I got this out of a bread cookbook about 10 years ago.  I have loved this book but haven't made very many things out of it. It is considered my luxury cookbook. The author traveled the world in search of good bread recipes. He came up with a 735 page cookbook.

This recipe came from the islands of Hawaii. There was a women in a restaurant that is well known for this banana bread.  There are some tricks to making this so take note. We condensed the instructions to fit in our family book so I will give you the condensed version.

Banana Bread
6 T 
Butter at room temperature
1/3 cp
Eggs, room temperature
1 ½ cp
Mashed bananas
1 ½ cp
All purpose flour
1 tsp
Baking soda
½ tsp
Baking powder
¼ tsp
Each: salt, and vanilla extract
1 cp
Coarsely broken macadamia nuts
½ cp
Shredded coconut

Mini chocolate chips

Mix butter and sugar until smooth add eggs one at a time. Mix in vanilla. Combine all the dry ingredients and mix. With spoon mix wet and dry ingredients just until wet. Do not over stir. Very gently add in coconut, chocolate chips and nuts. Grease or line with buttered wax paper 1 medium (8x4) loaf pan. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. 

Mash your bananas by hand. Leave some small lumps. When you stir in dry ingredients follow instructions carefully.  If you over stir the bread will become tough.  There is a fine line when it comes to how smashed the bananas are and the stirring. The only time I use the mixer is for the butter, sugar and eggs. We added the chocolate chips to this recipe. If you don't want them leave it out. We have found that you get a better mix of bread and chocolate if you use mini chips but the regular ones work too. We just add chocolate chips until it looks right but I think it's about 1/2 cup per loaf. I also add more coconut. In our experimenting we found making more than 6 loaves at a time you lose some control of the mixing process so we have limited ourselves to that. You will need a very large bowl if you make it in this quantity. Be careful not to overcook the bread it will cause it to dry out some and it's just not as good.

This recipe is easier than I make it sound. You just need to follow the tips and you will get a great loaf of bread.  I have had many people tell me it tastes like a Mounds candy bar.

Have fun!

Afterthought: Frozen bananas are a little tricky to separate once frozen but it can be done.  Don't expect them to look pretty.  When they thaw out they become mush anyway. If you line bananas up vertically you can take a knife and pry them apart. Do this on a cutting board with a butter knife. Don't let them sit out and thaw then refreeze, they are just not appetizing later. For most families I recommend using quart or gallon bags with only one layer. Quart is the perfect size for one large blender of banana milk with one banana to spare if you like your smoothie more banana flavor. We pack in gallon bags and use the whole thing in one meal.  I pack two rows on top of each other in the gallon bags then we pry them apart.  Prying apart frozen bananas is easier when fully frozen. The less contact the bananas make with each other the easier it is.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Casting Has Started

It never seems like we have much out of the ordinary happening at our house.  I talked with Ressa on Wednesday and she asked what was new.  I said nothing?.?. Well I was wrong. I couldn't figure out why I would have forgotten to tell her about Bria, then I realized I just take it all in stride because there is so much coming at me at once.  That is just my life and it makes every day a new adventure.

Bria had another appointment at Shriner's on Monday. I didn't know what to expect because we have had to take each appointment one at a time.  We would discover something new or have another question about her foot so we couldn't start casting until all questions were cleared up. I figured we would just go for a consultation and hopefully get a solid direction to go in to fix her club foot.  We came out of our appointment an hour later with a full cast on her foot and leg.  Shriner's is so amazing!

The cast slowly moves her foot, ankle and knee into the proper position.  The original prognosis was 6 months of casts and at least 2 years of braces.  The doctor believes that 2 months may do it.  Bria will go in every two weeks to change out the cast and reposition her foot. Once that is complete we will see how her ankle moves and hopefully the braces will be all that is needed.  Bria's ankle is pretty stiff and she has a hard time lifting her foot straight up but they said that sometimes that will heal as everything gets moved into the right position. Once the casting is done we will know more. I walked out of Shriner's thinking this is the easiest special need we could have chosen for a child.  I still feel that way.

I am so glad that it looks like a two month process.  I would hate to see her have to go through the summer in a cast.  She can't play in the sand and we have a very large sand box that all the kids love. She can't swim or even get wet.  How will we do baths? The sponge, of course. It's a good thing she is young and doesn't get stinky.  Love those Asian genes.  They really don't sweat. I can't wait to see her run in the grass and dig in the sand with the other kids.  She loves the outdoors and will go outside whenever she can get someone to go with her. It will be such a fun summer.  I am going to take full advantage of the sunshine and get my kids out as often as possible. Hyrum and Bria have never had freedom in the outdoors and they are going to get all they can for the first time in their lives.

Bria getting looked over before her last test to see if she had all the nerves and muscles.

The Doctor needed to mark her foot to see what was specifically in that spot.
Sporting her new pink cast.  She chose the color.

Bria and Emma dancing on the front porch in the beautiful sunshine. Bria is pivoting on her cast.  Amazing!

Posing for the camera.  Emma asks every day if she can go to dance class. 
Hyrum joined in on the fun.

Bananas, Bananas and more Bananas

I was at the store that can not be named (it's about as evil as Voldemort). No, I really just don't like their business practices so I try to stay away from them. I happened to need something and didn't have much time so the closest store had to do and there I stood.  In the entrance they had bananas for .30/pound. That is a great price so I decided to get some from bread and Banana milk.

Pierce and I loaded our cart with several bunches.  I thought I'd better get a few more because the kids will eat a lot if I bought them. So we loaded more bananas.  I began to wish they had boxes so I could have just gotten a box. My cart ended up more than half full of bananas.  It was just a little embarrassing.  I don't know why it bothered me.  I haven't had a problem being embarrassed when I buy 15 cases of strawberries, what's the difference? I figured I had taken my share and walked away knowing I would wish I had bought more.

On our way to get another item I found gold. Really, it was gold. Boxes upon boxes of bananas. Whoa! What could I do with all that? My mind really began to go.  How much freezer space did I have? Frozen bananas are very useful for smoothies, bread or muffins.  And let me tell you my banana bread recipe is the best EVER! I told Pierce to get another cart and we filled it with 4 more 40# boxes of bananas.  Of course, just like me I thought "I'm going to wish I bought more" but I exercised self control. How can you resist a $12 box with 40#'s of bananas.

I got home and the kids were a little shocked at all the bananas.  Once I told them of all the awesome things we could make they were ready to work. We peeled and stuffed gallon bags with bananas. After doing 4 boxes of bananas and a half a cart full we only had about 30 bags of bananas.  That translates to 30 times we can make smoothies or bread.  That just was not enough, knowing how much most of the kids love both, so I was off to the store that can not be named. We got 3 more boxes and I was ready to go.  I don't think I will wish I had gotten more. At least for a few months anyway. :)

Did you know that banana's turn your hands brown?

The gang peeling and packing bananas. The boys are conspicuously absent. Pierce was reading, Casey taking pictures and Marshall and Clayson, who knows where they were.  As soon as anyone showed their face they then had to peel bananas.  It only took us an hour to do the first batch of bananas.

Hyrum was a good helper.  He loved putting bananas in the bag.  At one point I looked over and he was breaking all the bananas into small pieces.  Not the best way to freeze bananas for our use.

Malia helped the whole time. She was also the one to decide if the fruit was good enough to freeze or if it was to be made into bread that evening.

Bria didn't stop for even a minute.  She started with me and ended with me.  We have a very good worker on our hands.

Hannah decided that she would rather make bread instead of doing bananas. She did a fantastic job!  The bread was excellent.

She is going to be a beautiful and competent mother one day. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Ever Improving

We are seeing constant growth in Bria and Hyrum.

Two weeks ago I was giving Hyrum and Bria a bath when I started wondering again if she would rather be in China.  I decided to ask her.

"Do you want to go to China ?"

Bria "Bria no China, Bria home.  Mama China"

Bria fully understood what she was saying.

Another day she was telling me "Mama find me. China, mama get me." We talked a little about her being in China and how she waited for us.

All the prayes I said that the children would be prepared and be accompanied by the angels were heard. The were prepared for us to come and Bria knows that we were looking for her.  I wonder if she knows how long we looked for her?

I wrote this back in January but forgot to post it.  We haven't had much more talk like this but Bria knows she is home even though she still struggles letting us in her heart.  It will come in time.

Hyrum is opening up so much.  He is very clingy at times and gives many hugs a day.  He will not go to bed without his Mama right next to him.  He cuddles up and holds tight to my arm as he falls asleep. He is free telling people that he loves them. This little boy accepts love and gives it freely.  What a miracle he is. We would have missed out on great blessings if we had chosen not to bring him home.  There were questions if we would. Both of our children are incredible blessings to us. We looked long and hard for them.  The battle was fierce in many ways but we won!  They are home and adjusting well.

If anyone wants info or help in finding out about adoption please don't hesitate to ask.  There are so many blessings that come from this incredible journey.  Great growth, love and joy. Not only do we recieve much but there are millions of children just like Hyrum, Bria, Casey, Niya, Marshall, Olivia and Emma that are longing for a mother and father to call their own.  I can't imagine not having any one of them.