Wednesday, December 31, 2008

He Loves Us

We left my Grandma's house at 9PM Monday night. We had planned to leave around 5 or so, but the electrical job Ray was doing at a friends house took much longer than expected.

The drive home is 6 hours, so by leaving at 9 our ETA for getting home was going to be 3AM. Our hope by driving home at night was to a) get home a day earlier so Ray could work on Tuesday, and b) drive while the kids (Calvin specifically) were sleeping.

We stopped to refuel in Willits, the halfway point in our journey. Ray's eye was bothering him, so I offered to drive for a while. I don't like driving at night. It is scary, and hard to see. I was driving the speed limit and nothing more. Annoying to others, I know, but as my dad says "better safe than sorry."

The highway is mostly one lane in each direction with spots where it goes to two lanes for passing. On the way out of town there was a car driving pretty close behind me, obviously eager to get by. I was glad to finally get to a two lane stretch to let the car get around me. It was not the last we would see of it though.

After the railroad tracks and the passing lane section the road goes back to one lane and winds up a hill. By now Ray had settled in and, though he was not asleep, he had his eyes closed to rest the one that was bugging him.

As we crested the hill and started to pick up some speed on the other side Raymond sat up suddenly, pointed ahead of us and started yelling "Watch Out! Watch Out! Watch Out!" In a moment my mind flipped through the possibilities: deer, bolder, ice... Then I saw the brake lights of the car ahead of us. I saw some smoke or exhaust around it, and realized it must be stopping. The headlights seemed oddly placed and as I screamed and veered into the south bound lane to avoid the car I deduced it must have piled on top of another car.

Thank goodness no one was coming in the opposite lane. We swerved around the wreck and realized the car was sliding on it's roof. It had flipped over. No other cars were involved. We were safe. But what about the passengers in the wrecked vehicle?

Raymond was yelling to pull over. He handed me the cell phone, and immediately got out of the car and ran to the wreck to help. We were the only witnesses out in the middle of now-where. The wreck was on a curvy down hill stretch of road, and the wrecked vehicle was smack in the middle of the only north-bound lane.

Frantically I tried to turn on the cell phone to dial 911. I am not a cell phone owner myself, and with all the adrenalin I had pumping through me at that moment I could not remember how to turn it on. Luckily Ray has two cell phones (for two different jobs) and the second was already turned on. I called 911.

As the phone rang I debated whether to get out of the car and leave the kids, who were NOT asleep after the crazy driving and screaming. Calvin was crying hysterically, so I got out in order to hear the operator.

"911, what's your emergency?" The operator was amazing. I am so thankful for this service. I have never dialed 911 before, and boy, that woman knew all the questions to ask. I frantically told her about the wreck, that the car was upside-down in the middle of the road. I ran up toward the wreckage and saw a young woman walking around the car, talking on her cell. Ray called to me that she seemed alright and that there was no one else in the car. I relayed the info. The operator asked to talk to the girl, so I handed her the phone and told her it was 911. She said okay, and hung up her phone. She had been talking to her mom. She got on with the operator and told her she thought she okay, but would be needing a tow truck. Before she could say much more we lost reception. On this stretch of the 101 we were very 'lucky' to have had reception at all.

Our next concern after making sure the driver was not in need of medical attention was to make sure no other drivers hit the vehicle. Before our trip I had decided on a whim to put a flashlight in the car that also has a red strobe light in it. I dug out the flashlight and gave it to Ray. Ray stood up by the wreckage with the strobe going, waving his arms and the light as cars came over the hill. Our car was down hill from the wreck, and I had our headlights, interior lights, and emergency flashing lights going to alert drivers coming from the other direction.

At one point while we waited for the Highway Patrol to arrive a truck driver stopped and gave us a couple flares. This helped immensely. A guy with a flashlight waving is one thing, but when a driver sees flares, well that really got them to slow down.

A nurse on her way home from her job stopped to help at one point, but didn't stay. The boys were both crying. It was cold, and I was on high alert. My fear was that the car would be hit again. It was in a really bad spot. The girl in the crash didn't share our concern for the severity of the situation. She was walking around the car, talking on the phone to family, making light hearted statements. I think she was really nervous, and she seemed young.

It was probably at least a half hour later that the Highway patrol finally arrived. Again, I am so thankful for those who serve the public. Once they were there, I felt so much safer. The kids were not amused by the flashing lights though, and I was ready to get out of there! We had to stick around for Ray to give a statement. When he was done, he came back to the car and got in the driver seat. There was no way I was driving after all that!

Key in the ignition. Turn. Silence. "You've got to be kidding!" Dumb, I know, but in the frantic first moments of being at the scene it seemed to make sense to turn the car off. All the lights had drained our battery. The Highway Patrol man directing south bound traffic must have seen us slapping our foreheads in disgust, because he came over and asked if we needed help. Ray told him our battery had died, and he said no problem, someone would help us out.

We waited another ten minutes as we watched the tow truck driver skillfully flip the car upright. That's something I'd never seen. Soon the sheriff zipped down the hill to our car and gave us a jump. He thanked us for helping out the girl, who we never did learn a name. Off we went.

As we drove away, wide eyed as you can imagine, I told Ray that if he had not seen that car wrecking, we would have hit it. I did not see the crash as soon as he did. And when I did see it, I did not at first comprehend in the dark what was happening. I know, beyond a doubt that I would have reacted to late.

As we had talked here and there during the ordeal Ray had told me how he thought he had seen the rear lights of the car flip flop, but now he said to me, "Kim, I don't think I actually saw that crash with my eyes."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"I had my eyes closed."

Whoa. He loves us, doesn't He.

Be safe tonight, everyone.
Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas 2008 and Rotavirus Craziness

Christmas this year was wonderful. We spent Monday 22nd with Raymond's family who live in town. We had a wonderful dinner, a couple gifts for the kids, and just a good time hanging out with Ray's folks, Aunt Renee and Uncle Russ, Uncle Ryan and Kassie.

On Wednesday we left town to drive down to see my Grandma and Grandpa. Grandpa is in the hospital this Christmas. He is 92 (or is it 93, now?), and not doing really great with his health just lately. Grandma is just as well as ever, but feeling sad about her sweetie not being home. Grandma Phyllis is and amazing, and trusting in the Lord to accomplish His perfect will in her life and in Grandpa's as well.

Also, we were blessed to meet my aunt Laurie's husband Tim for the first time. (Welcome to the family, Tim!) My mom and dad are also here, as was my sister, Kelly.

It has been such a relief to spend this Christmas with my side of the family. I love Ray's family, but have been so home sick for mine. My Grandpa and Grandma and Aunt had not even met Calvin before our visit. We live in a geographically isolated area of California. There are highways in and out, but they are crazy twisty roads that are frequently closed due to mud slides in the winter. It is really hard for us to make the trek from Humboldt to Nevada counties. I wish we could do it more often.

While Christmas has been amazing, and I love being with family, our entire Christmas this year has been punctuated by one thing: Rotavirus. Or as my dad prefers to call it: Roto-Rooter.

I was the first to get it about a week before Christmas while my folks were up visiting. Knocked me out! I am so glad they were in town to help with the kids. (Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!)

Next Charlie got it. He is still dealing with puke and, you know, "loose stools" or "monumental blow-outs," however you prefer to think of it. Poor guy.

Next it was my dad, then my aunt and uncle, now my Grandma. We are praying Grandpa is spared. For whatever reason Ray, my mom, and Calvin have seemed to resist the virus.

Oh, my other Uncle Tim also came down with a stomach bug, but he was here before my folks, so I think this thing has a long incubation, and it is extremely contagious.

After a week, I finally feel back to normal. My dad is doing better. Charlie seemed to be doing better, but had a major blow-out last night (the worst ever that we've seen from him), plus he puked. Grandma is in bed today gingerly sipping apple juice. We were hoping to go visit my other Grandma who lives in a nursing home, but we've started to feel like we are harbingers of disease, so we may end up passing up that opportunity:(

Pictures to come soon (of the good stuff, not the Rotavirus part).
Pray for us!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Can I just share my heart?

You know, if I owned a journal, this would probably not be going up here. But, I am fresh out of private places to write (aside from easily lost scraps of paper and post-it notes), so instead you all get to hear my heart.

I think it was last year at Christmas time as Ray and I perused the Reece's Rainbow Angel Tree gallery for a child to sponsor that we decided we would one day adopt a child with Down Syndrome from overseas. There is just no question. We know it is something we want to do.

Our feeling at the time was that we should wait until certain other things come to pass in our lives: finish having babies, buy a house, build a career, make more money.

When I think about it, the list is the same as it was before we got pregnant with Charlie. We had a bunch of criteria we felt we needed to meet before starting a family. Well, thank goodness for surprises or who knows how long we would have waited. I mean, who can say when all this will come to pass. Who can say if it will come. Really, how much money are a brilliant musician and his day-dreamy wife ever going to make? Somehow, I think not very much. We're fine with that most of the time. But I digress.

Thing is, I feel pregnant. I feel pregnant with the idea that our family could expand by one. One messy haired, stout little boy with Down Syndrome and clever smile.

I'm nesting. Every move I make just lately is with the idea in mind that we will take the leap to adopt. I keep thinking about making space in our new house. How will we arrange. What kind of sleeping situation could we rig up in the boys room to make space for one more little fellow. Seriously, I'm like a little girl playing house.

Where is this coming from? I mean, where is the voice of reason? If you knew our current situation, you would probably agree with me: we are in no place to take such a huge financial leap of a cliff. Not to mention, we've got our hands full with two small boys. Are we ready to go from being evenly matched to out-numbered?

But I can't help but look at all the beautiful faces on the Reece's Rainbow web site and think: compared to an orphan, we are rich. Rich materially, emotionally, we have stability, we have love in Christ. We have everything we could ever need to affect a child's life for eternity.

I keep day dreaming of a herd of little boys paling around in the front yard. Three little boys having peanut butter and jelly at the kitchen table. Three boys pushing little wooden trains down the tracks in the living room. I keep day dreaming of bunk beds in the children's room, and three dirty little pairs of shoes by the front door.

In many ways (and I mean, everyday something new) I feel God confirming to me that it is his will for us to adopt. Heck, any Christian knows that God calls us to minister to the widow and the orphan. Beyond that, I feel in a very personal way that he is nudging me toward family expansion. (And, I don't mean pregnancy. I need a serious break from that!)

But in all honesty, I'm struggling.

I feel like Jacob wrestling with God. Can't he see my frustrations, my questions, my reasoning. The time can't possibly be right. Can it? I want it to be. Will be provide?

In some ways I feel like "Why would God place such an overwhelming desire in our hearts, but not provide the means? We are willing servants, God, but you've not provided a way to act."

In some ways I feel like He is releasing us to go forward, but I am too scared to take the first step without some sort of obvious deposit. I want God to prove His intentions. Where is my faith?!

I am inspired by the many people whom I've met through on-line who are taking the step to pursue adoption. Most of these folks sound like ordinary people like us. Not rich in possessions, but rich in faith, rich in Christ. It hurts my heart to feel like I am being left behind. I want to be there now.

In the mean time, I continue to pray. God is working in his own way in Raymond, too. Raymond is the reasonable one of the two of us. I'm the dreamer and the one who makes things infinitely more complicated than they need to be. But how can I remain collected when all these beautiful little boys and girls have no family, and my arms ache to hold them.

Maybe I can try a cardboard sign campaign to raise the money. It will read:

Well, Merry Christmas, All.
God bless you tonight.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's Confirmed!

We have a first word! "HAT"

Calvin is repeating a lot of sounds and words we are saying just lately, and "hat" seemed to be the first and most frequently used word. When he says it it comes out "aaaat" or "dat". He is also imitating these words: light, tree, and dad. He says mama, too. Actually, he does not imitate us saying mama. He says it of his own accord, but only when he is upset.

This little kid is blowing us away! I had no idea babies could learn words this early.

Charlie's first word was also "hat." Actually, it was his first sign and his first word. He was 15 months old. I guess these brothers think alike!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

IEP Update and We're Moving

It's been a few days. We've been enjoying a visit from Nana and Papa and not spending much time on the computer, I guess. I'll post some Nana and Papa pics soon.

First, the "We're Moving" part. You might remember that we recently moved into the perfect little house with a perfect little yard for the kids just a couple months ago. Well, everything was going great until winter hit. Once the rain started, the mold came. Crazy mold everywhere! Charlie is having allergies to the mold, and it is getting on our stuff. The house is so damp that the papers on our desk are no longer crisp. They are limp from so much moisture.

Well, just as we were connecting Charlie's poor health to the mold, and feeling more and more exasperated as we found mold on many of our things, we were offered the opportunity to rent a cottage from some very close friends of ours. In fact, it is the cottage Raymond and I lived in when we were first married. It has it's querks, but it does not have mold, and so, We're Moving!

We will be living in the middle cottage of a row of cottages, most rented by dear friends. We are very excited!

Now for the IEP part. Moving to the new cottage will put us in a different school district. We are moving January 15th, 7 days after Charlie turns 3. By law, Charlie must have an IEP by his 3rd birthday. It is all very technical.

Soooo... We had his IEP meeting as planned last Thursday with the school district in which we currently reside. It was actually a very pleasant meeting. I brought home made oatmeal cookies (that Nana baked, but I got the credit;), and I brought pictures of Charlie for people to keep in their file folders. I think these two little extras helped to set the mood for a relaxed meeting.

This IEP was in many ways a warm up for the one we will have in January after we move to the new school district. We spent a lot of time discussing just how great Charlie is doing. Then, we set his IEP up to extend his Early Start services for another 45 days until we get the IEP with the new district in place.

There were no tears, no frustration. I felt so positive about Charlie and how much he has benefited from services, and how well he is doing in his development. Ray and I walked away feeling like "That wasn't bad at all." It was a good set-up for the big meeting next month. I will definitely be baking for that meeting as well!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It Snowed!

I don't have pictures, but I promise, it really did snow yesterday! All the surrounding hills are covered in white. It did not stick in town, but it sure was coming down. Big, wet, fast-falling flakes. It has been cold here! (Relatively, that is)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Reece's Rainbow Angel Tree

Angel Tree

Reece's Rainbow is a non-profit organization that works to advocate for orphans who have Down Syndrome. In our country children who are born with Down Syndrome are cherished. Dare I say coveted. There are waiting lists to adopt babies with Down Syndrome in the United States. Families who have children with Down Syndrome have many supports. There are entire books of laws to protect and advocate for people with disabilities, ensuring they are integrated into society in every way possible, from babyhood through adulthood.

Babies born with Down Syndrome in many other countries around the world are not so fortunate. They face discrimination and rejection from the start. Parents are encouraged to give their disabled child up for adoption. It is just what people do. In some counties when a child with Down Syndrome turns 4 years old, they are removed from the orphanage and sent to mental institutions, never to be available for adoption again. Living in the baby-homes (orphanages), the children lack the important services that could help them to reach their full potential. Most importantly, they lack the love and care of a family. We all need a family.

Reece's Rainbow exists to promote the adoption of children with Down Syndrome from overseas. I've met a few families on-line who have been helped by this amazing organization, and now have their beautiful sons and daughters home with them.

The Cornish Family adopted Emma and Micah
The Balsis Family recently brought home their daughter Nika
The Powell's are waiting on their sweet baby Reese

Every Christmas Reece's Rainbow hosts The Angel Tree Project to raise money and awareness for all the beautiful children available for adoption. When you donate more than $35 to sponsor a child by the 15th of this month (Just 4 days away! Hurry!), you will receive a Christmas ornament with the picture of your child on it. Each of our boys will be getting one of these precious ornaments in their Christmas stocking.

We chose to sponsor "Avery" and "Nikita." Who will you choose to bless this Christmas?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas Tree Hunting

On Saturday our family went to Horse Mountain with Uncle Russ and Auntie Renee, and Uncle Ryan and his girlfriend Cassie and her family. We went to go hunt down a Christmas tree! We chose a cute little silver tip fur that we have situated on top of the entertainment center armoire.

Here we are with our tree.

We had a picnic by the road-side in a sunny spot.

Okay, I don't know what I think about these sunglasses. Looks pretty wiley.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Being a kid

There's just nothing like being a kid. Experiencing everything fresh and taking things for face value. Here is a fun story from my childhood:

One of the highlights of visiting my Grandma in Santa Cruz was that she kept a jar of peanut butter that had the stripes of jam mixed in. My sister and I always looked forward to a lunch with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich made with this special concoction.

Like many kids, I left a pile of bread crusts on my plate when I finished my sandwich. I'm just not a crust eater. They are tough and dry and don't taste as nice. Well, in an attempt to get me to finish all my food, Grandma told me that the crust is where all the good vitamins were. And... it didn't work. I believed her all right, but at my young age I could care less about vitamins (what ever they were!).

A few short years later, when I was a teenager and started to care about things like vitamin intake and healthy eating, guess what I started to do... Eat my bread crusts! After all, they are a jackpot of nutrition, right? I did this until about my fourth year of college (which was still my freshman year, but that is another story), when I sat at the table eating a sandwich and began to think about vitamins and bread and how-in-the-heck-can-there-possibly-be-more-vitamins-in-the-crust? Ha! I'd been dooped! It was just one of those things I was told as a child and simply believed.

And if you are wondering, I do not currently partake of the crust of my sandwich, even though Ray chides me for missing out on important nutrition. I know better, now. ;-)
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