Friday, August 23, 2013

Birthday Planning

Birthdays around here are a big deal as it is, but when it's the FIRST birthday, that's cause for celebration!  Viktorya will be 11 soon, so it's not her first birthday, but it's her first with us!

I've been trying to decide what to get her.  When I asked her, she only asked for a baby.  Of course, the girls have about 10 babies, so I'm not sure they need any more babies piled in my old baby cradle.

I keep asking myself what she would enjoy, but isn't thinking to ask for.  This week, I figured it out!  My mom has been coming up every Monday this month to help get the week off to a good start, playing with the littles while I get the bigs started on school work.  This week, she stopped by a local (to her) pizza restaurant and bought kids' personal pizzas that have all the ingredients packaged, ready for the kids to put together.  They even came in little pizza boxes.  Since then, Viktorya has been putting the Melissa & Doug birthday cake in the pizza box, and calling it a pizza.  The kids have been taking orders in their Italian restaurant and making deliveries.

I searched on Etsy, and found a shop that sells patterns for felt food.  Sweet Emma Jean had the best looking pizza, with lots of yummy-looking toppings, and promises of very clear and detailed directions.  I purchased a set of patterns, and they are all easy to follow.  Now I can get a head start on Christmas with all these patterns, but this pizza set is coming soon for Miss V's 11th Birthday!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Words that Matter

A few days ago, we invited our social worker into our home, and she was able to meet Viktorya and Denny.  (She's Viktorya now, in case you're wondering.  She made the name change from Viki to Viktorya last week.  It's also easier for her to say, since Viki comes out 'ih-ti' and Viktorya comes out 'ih-torya'.)

We had a great visit, we just sat and talked about the kids, about our adjustment, the ups, the downs, the  thousands of twenty-something trips to the pediatrician, cardiologist, endocrinologist, ophthalmologist, labs for bloodwork, and beginning evaluations for therapy, and referrals for genetics.

She toured the kids' rooms, interacted with Denny, tried to interact with Viktorya, and 2.5 hours later, was heading home.  Today, our post-placement report came, and it reads differently than our life feels.  I mean, everything in the report is accurate, it's just different.  In the end, the words that matter most, out of the three pages detailing each child, are the words, "It is this agency's assessment that this is an excellent placement for (Viktorya/Denny)."  

Those are the words that matter.  On the tough days, it's easy to forget to stop and thank God for blessing our family with these two kids.  But every day, they are a blessing.  In the middle of a kicking, screaming tantrum, I'm reminded that I do the same thing.  Maybe not physically, but emotionally, spiritually, I can throw just as big a tantrum as Viktorya.  On the days when Denny acts as if he doesn't have any idea that we've ever used sign language, or that he mastered "eat" weeks ago, and I gently put my hand over his to help him, I see how patient God is with me.  

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Our New Normal: In the Kitchen

One of the biggest adjustments our family has made over the past four months (aside from getting to know two new people, their likes and dislikes, personalities, and wants/needs) has been in the kitchen.  I seriously feel like I've lived the majority of the last several months in that one room, either preparing food or cleaning up from preparing food, feeding kids, or washing dishes.

For one, we knew Viki was coming to us with a relatively new diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes, though the survival that was the first two weeks (one week in Bulgaria, followed by one week at home, until the appointment with the endocrinologist) was COMPLETELY different than the detailed plan we have now.  I explained to the endocrinologist the day we walked in that I will work any plan I have, but I need a plan.

I got a plan, that's for sure!  I have a kitchen cabinet dedicated to her supplies of lancets, glucose test strips, needles, ketone test strips, a spare blood meter, spare insulin pens, and a shelf in the refrigerator with her supplies of insulin.  I have a 3" notebook FULL of sick day protocol, ketone protocol, snacks that have certain amounts of carbs, suppliers' information ranging from medical bracelets to cooler pouches for insulin, and so on.  I can rattle off her baseline, carb:insulin ratio, and insulin sensitivity factor.

Now that we're four months in, I know how much extra insulin she needs for a piece of cake (above her standard carb dose) and which dinners will have her lower than her overnight goal, so to plan on her having a snack in bed.

On top of learning the ropes of diabetes management, Sadie was having tummy trouble before I left to pick up the kids, and we weren't able to figure out the source.  Once we were home and getting settled, it was time to schedule her to meet with a GI specialist, to test for less common causes.  All the blood work was done, and we were still without answers.  Her symptoms look like celiac, but they aren't.

She was put on a low-FODMAP diet, which eliminates lactose, fructose, fructans, galactans, and sugar alcohols.  My first thought was, "What CAN she eat?!"  As it turns out, a lot.  It's essentially a paleo diet, just a stricter one than we had been following.  And it's hard, because fixing pb&j for the kids just isn't an option anymore.  I'm now grilling chicken for lunch, as a base, then adding sides according to which child has which restriction.

My most commonly used statement with Sadie is, "The doctor says you can't have that."  And she's okay with the doctor saying she can't have something.  Grocery shopping is a new adventure, and our recipes have been adapted to work with our new restrictions.  And Sadie was able to enjoy lactose-free chocolate ice cream, so that made up for many "the doctor says no" answers about food.

Denny has gone from not being able to even drink from a bottle, to getting smoothies packed with yummy goodness, and now he's moved on to solid foods, even chewing now, instead of just swallowing it down.  He can pack away three adult portions of oatmeal at breakfast, then act ravenous by snack time.  Just this week, he picked up bite-size pieces of food from his tray and fed himself!  Woohoo!!!

All five kids are growing like weeds, so my grocery budget is through the roof.  We're approaching the $800 mark, and there's not a coupon to help us, unless you have coupons for meat and veggies, and in that case, gimme!

If you have any yummy paleo recipes, please pass them along!  We're always looking to try new recipes, so we don't risk eating the same 10 meals again and again!