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We're Home

July 2008

We're home! Actually, we've been home for about 2 weeks and I have to apologize for being remiss on updating this site. It's been a wonderful whirlwind since we landed back in the good ol' US of A on June 27th. We were greeted at the Atlanta airport by my mom and her friend, Wil, after an amazingly painless 24-hour travel day. Shepherd, since he loves to be held, was in his element: planted firmly in one of our laps for the entire 24 hours. He ate, laughed, played and slept with just a fuss or two thrown in for good measure. We had wonderful seats on the long flight from Tokyo to Detroit: the last two seats together at the back corner of the plane... it was heavenly to be away from the crowd and the claustrophobia brought on by a typical trans-Pacific flight. The stewardess hooked us up with a tray of drinks behind our seats (actually, I think they were for everyone, but we like to believe they were just for us ;)) and between that and the free space we had between our seats and the bathrooms, we were quite content.

It was SO wonderful to be welcomed home by all of our little ones! Everyone had enjoyed their time with Aunt Angie and Uncle Bob and it showed. They were all suntanned (especially the ones who didn't inherit my painfully pale skin) and smiles when we pulled up in the driveway. After unloading ourselves and our baggage, we all packed back into the car to head to our favorite Mexican spot: Moe's. Everyone managed to put back more than their share and we contentedly hauled ourselves back to Angie's house for the night. Chris slept with Shepherd and I slept with Jude. We all slept fairly well which was no surprise considering our exhaustion from the long trip home. The next day we spent the morning enjoying some lazy time, I woke up at 10:00 and Chris slept until I woke him at 11:15. In the afternoon we packed it up and headed to Georgia Tech to take our lovely Victoria out for a very special dinner at our second most favorite Mexican spot: Taco Bell :) Too soon it was time to get on the road again and we said a quick goodbye to our girl and headed for home.

Once home, life quickly became fast-paced and hectic with appointments and arrangements for Shepherd's treatment. We had our first dr. appointment on July 2 and Shepherd was declared 'healthy' despite some fluid in his ears and a double ear infection. The next dose of bad news was that he was due for 6 shots and had to have blood drawn to check his immunity to HepB... but we were happy about the 'healthy' part of the doctor's exam! He weighed 20 pounds and measured 30 3/4 long. The doctor scheduled a visit for Shepherd with the ENT who will remove his ear tag and examine his ears to see if he needs to have tubes placed to get rid of the fluid that has been sitting in his ears, despite 3 rounds of antibiotics.

Shepherd helped us celebrate my birthday on the 3rd and our country's independence on the 4th. He certainly enjoyed the fireworks more than my birthday (even though he did give that cupcake a workout!). He couldn't contain his joy as he pointed and motioned towards our homemade fireworks display, which included sparklers and $30 worth of WalMart fireworks. Our local fireworks show was to start at 9:30 and with a crew like ours, that's WAY too late. So we opted for a pre bedtime show for the youngest four kiddos that included sparklers and some of the smaller fireworks, and then held a second round after dark for the big kids. Shepherd surprised us by not having any fear of the sounds or the lights like his big sister Isabelle, in fact, he held a sparkler all by himself! Biggest sis Victoria came in for the weekend of the 4th and as usual, made our time together as a family that much sweeter.

On July 7, Shepherd and I headed to Iowa City for the first of 6-7 castings that Shepherd will undergo to correct his bilateral clubfoot. It was a hectic trip there, as our flight was delayed due to weather and July 4th holiday travel, but the remainder of our time once in Iowa was surprisingly pleasant. Upon driving into Iowa City, I was filled with happy memories of our trip last summer when we stayed for the month of July during Jude's castings. Although I consider that time to be one of the most difficult times of my life, God reminded me of all the fun and joyful times we had during our stay. When we arrived at the hospital on Monday morning, I was so relieved to finally have Shepherd in the hands of the doctors I consider to be the very best in the world: Dr. Ponseti and Dr. Morcuende. Dr. Morcuende examined Shepherd and quickly determined that his feet would be easily corrected, possibly even faster than Jude's. He also remembered that I had emailed him when we had some concerns about Shepherd's hands, so he took some time to evaluate Shepherd's hands and how he uses them. Thankfully he said that Shepherd was a totally healthy little guy, with normal use of his hands. Such blessed news! Shepherd tolerated his first casting very well, although he was acutely aware that we were in a strange place with strange people. But Dr. Morcuende has a way about him (and the O*reos didn't hurt either!) and soon Shepherd was laying quietly on a pillow as his first cast was applied. We were done less than an hour after our appointment began and goodbyes were easy since we knew we would be returning the next Monday for cast #2.

Brothers at last!

Starting to enjoy the baby pool

Bubbles + bathtub = happy boy

Our littlest puppy

Helping celebrate mommy's 40th birthday!

Watching fireworks in the yard

"These fireworks are the BEST!"
We headed over to the local mall for lunch with Lisa, my good friend from last summer. She brought her beautiful kiddos who managed to make Shepherd smile for the duration of our time together. It was fantastic to catch up with her and time passed too quickly and we had to head back to the Ronald McDonald House. We tidied our room, packed our bags and headed out for the airport, arriving in plenty of time for our flight out. Good thing too, because TSA decided Shepherd looked questionable and pulled us aside so they could swab his casts and his hands for who-knows-what. If I hadn't been so tired of lugging him, our bags and his newly applied plaster casts, I'd have found it amusing... needless to say, I didn't. The good news was that our flight was on time and that meant we would arrive home on time.

Since our return from Iowa we have managed to fill all our 'free' moments packing up for the big move. Yes, we're moving and we're moving ourselves. Our house sold while we were in China (Yea God!!) and our closing date is July 25th. We found an awesome house for our family on Saturday (a week ago) and now have a contract on it, the closing is set for the 28th! We are thrilled since we didn't think we were going to find a house that suited our family's unique demands, but God provided! And the motivation provided by our new house sure helps with the packing up of this old one ;)

So while we were busy before, we are even busier now! Thankfully Shepherd seems to have fallen right into the chaos and is loving it. He is happiest when there is a lot of commotion and our older kids are happy to oblige. He is sleeping well at night and eating well during the day. He takes 3-4 bottles a day and is learning to chew and swallow his food better all the time. He will try many foods but as he is forgetting what it feels like to be painfully hungry, he is turning away from more and more of what we offer. His favorites are crackers, O*reos, rice, carrots, chips, popcorn and banana. He'll also eat some baby food, but he looks more offended than happy when he eats it so we are trying to offer less of that and more table foods. He is learning to use a sippy cup, thanks to his big brother Jude who carries one around all day. Shepherd has learned to come along behind big bro to pick up what he leaves behind... we recently realized he was drinking all of Jude's juice. This is great news since he had turned his nose up at juice before, now we just need to teach him how to tip his cup back to get every last drop, just like Jude! He and Jude have already begun to form a brotherly relationship as Shepherd thinks Jude is hilarious. And Jude loves being the 'big boy' comedian. We can't wait to watch their relationship evolve.

Shepherd is making more and more sounds all the time, and he loves to imitate. At the dinner table he will start clapping his hands or screeching, hoping that someone will join in his game and start imitating him. He likes to say, "da" for dog (he loves Velvet) and has tried to say many words including 'sticker', 'bye bye', 'mama' and 'dada'. His favorite means of communication is the scream and he has quite a repertoire. Today he added the 'police siren' scream when he heard his brother's video game and imitated the sound. Oh, yeah!! Needless to say, we're hoping his speech picks up and the screaming subsides.

Once again God has chosen the perfect child for our family. As he settles into our home and finds his spot in our hearts, we are reminded of God's plan to bring this child into our lives at this time. When God first started us on this journey we balked and we questioned. But as we look into the precious face of this child, how grateful we are that He made His purposes clear: Shepherd was to be our son. We are blessed indeed!

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