If you have visited here before, you can probably see that I have changed the name of the blog again. I started blogging at 4URuthie to tell the story of our journey to adopt our 1st daughter. I changed it to Mountains for Maggie when we were praying for God to move mountains on behalf of our 2nd daughter. Well now it is no longer just Ruthie’s or Maggie’s stories. It is now our family's story, and the stories of those we share life with, as we Conquer Mountains together. Both ConqueringMountains.net and 4URuthie.blogspot will lead here.

About Me

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I am a pastor's wife, mother of 4 kids (2 adopted and 3 with special needs), physical therapist, and photography junky. This is where it all comes together for me. Feel free to join along as I process life out loud.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Our Bluebonnet Adventure

I don't usually shoot pictures in the bluebonnets.  I have never offered sessions there nor cared to.  I am not a bad Texan, I promise.  I even love the color blue.  I just have some internal conflict with doing what everyone else is doing.  I know, I need counseling.

Anyway, I decided to take Maggie for pictures in the bluebonnets and I actually got a little excited about it.  A photographer friend found a cute little patch with a red barn in the background.  I decided to go a little non-traditional (fighting my fear of conformity) and took a bandana teepee a friend made in order to play off the barn.

So I got the girls ready and we headed out.  Luckily I realized that I forgot my camera while I was still in the neighborhood, but that should have been my first sign that it might not go as planned.

About 5 minutes down the road, this happens.

I texted the pic to Trent and he replied, "Wake her up now or she will be mad when she wakes up."  I decided he was wrong and she needed her sleep.  He also suggested that I take snacks but I decided that too was ridiculous since I fed her before we left and we were getting dinner afterwards.

You see where this is going.

Yep she woke up mad as hell.  So there I was trying to set things up with a crying baby on my hip and no snacks to distract her from her present anger.   So I shot these instead with Maggie screaming on my hip.

We tried again.

Not what I had planned but still pretty hilarious.

I couldn't arrange the teepee the way I wanted and now looking at it, I am not sure it was that great of an idea.  I believe Ruthie agreed based on her expression here.

I finally handed her a flower clip and she calmed down.  Not happy, but calm.  We ditched the mismatched teepee and things started to improve.

This one may be my favorite.

Yes Maggie I see your clip.  Remember, I handed it to you when you were throwing your fit?

This child has more expressions than anyone I have ever met.

I mean seriously, how can that be the same kid?

It is, she's mine, and I am crazy about her.  I am still not crazy about bluebonnets, but I sure like what I see sitting in them.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Dear Maggie- You

Dear Maggie-

*You are here! I know that has been true for 2 1/2 weeks now, but I still have to stop for a moment every day and remind myself that it is really true.  I can't believe you are actually here.

*You have the greatest smile ever and you know just when to use it.  I will tell you "no" for something and you will lower your head in sadness then look right up at me with the cutest smile and dimples anyone has ever seen.  I then forget completely what I was getting onto you for.

*You already know more english words in 2 weeks than I know Chinese words after the 7-8 weeks I have spent there.  Your first word was "more".

*You learned to take multiple steps midweek and now you are walking on any flat surface with confidence.  You freeze and put your arms up to be picked up if you approach an incline though.

*You love to mimic.  It is the cutest thing.  You mimic us washing our faces, talking on the phone, talking, singing, and more.

*I discovered today that you have a crooked pinky toe and I love it.

*You are the velcro baby.  You want to be held any time you can see me.  When your brothers and sister come home, you get all distracted by them and that is when I get things done.

*You love your bath time with your sister and she loves it just as much.

I love you sweet girl so very much.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Heart Update and Explanation

Several of you have asked about Maggie's heart and I promise I haven't been avoiding you.  I just wanted to wait until she had her visit here in the states first.

Well we were supposed to go today (Friday) but yesterday she woke up a little ashen and being new at this, I called the cardiologist to see when I should be concerned.  He said to go ahead and take her to the Texas Children's ER and he would have the cardiac team there do the work up that day.  It must have been God's will because the cardiologist on call was a China adoptive parent from the same province!  She was great and did the full work up that had been scheduled for Friday.

So here are the facts:

1.  Maggie has a single working right ventricle.  Her left one is tiny and there is a big hole between them.  If that were it, she would not have lived longer than a few days.

2. She also has Pulmonary Stenosis.  This sounds bad but it is actually a blessing. This protected her lungs from the overpressure of the single ventricular pump.

3. Maggie looks good and is stable.  Her oxygen sats are hanging out in the 80s which is not ideal but not critical.

4. Being an adoptive parent, the cardiologist encouraged us to take the next few weeks and settle in then return to our regular cardiologist for a plan.  One option is for her to have a Glen procedure this spring but that may not be necessary since she is doing pretty good.  The second procedure, the Fontan, would definitely need to be done but not until she is 4 and her heart is a little bigger.  Texas Children's has a Single Ventricle Team and they are going to meet and review her unique case.  They don't see kids like Maggie with single ventricles who have not had surgery but look this good.  She really shouldn't be alive.

Long term?  We really don't know.  Right now people with single ventricles are living into their 20s and 30s and then either having a stroke or suffering from liver damage.  These kids had surgery a long time ago and the procedure has improved since then so feasibly the outcomes should be better for Maggie.  Mortality rate from surgery is less than 5%.

Trent said that when the lady was doing the ultrasound, she looked surprised when Trent told her that we knew already about her condition.  The lady didn't have a frame of reference for someone who would voluntarily take this on.  We are praying that she saw a glimpse of Jesus yesterday and that others will see Jesus through Maggie's life and story too.  He has a plan for her and we are blessed to be a part of it.

Thanks for praying for our girl.  We are so in love with this newest blessing.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

We Are Home

WE ARE HOME!!!!  After a long day of traveling and a near missed connection, we are finally home!  Let me tell you that I have the greatest friends and church family on the planet.

They threw one heck of a party at the Houston Airport.

Okay but I have to back track for just a second.  I was sitting in the Tokyo airport and this good friend walked up to me in the AA lounge.  I about fell out of my seat.  It was the greatest surprise ever.  Turns out he was on the same flight from Tokyo to Dallas!  He checked on us several times and really watched out to make sure we were surviving the long flight.

Okay so back to that part in the airport.  Here are a few more pictures of Maggie meeting some of our closest friends and her brothers of course. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

On Hong Kong, Vomit, and Fancy Parties in Hotel Lobbies

We made it to Hong Kong but not without a little adventure along the way.   Maggie was doing great up until about an hour-and-a-half out when she decided to vomit all over me, herself, and my pillow from car sickness.  I had to think fast as I was observing my sister starting to dry heave herself so I removed Maggie’s clothes, my shirt, and wrapped them all in the pillowcase.  Luckily I had a thin tank top on underneath my shirt, but don’t be fooled, it was just one very small step up from a bra.  

So we passed through customs with Maggie in a diaper and me looking like something they picked up off the street.  It got more interesting when we entered the very fancy airport hotel where there was a dinner party with guests in fancy dresses all in the lobby.  Seriously, people, if it was ever okay to use the term, “white trash,” this is that moment.  We finally checked in, washed our items in the sink, bathed everyone and are now settling in for the night.  

I am terrified for what tomorrow holds.  We have a 4-5 hour flight to Tokyo, a 4-hour layover, a too many hours to count (12-15??) flight to Dallas, a 2-hour layover, and then a flight to Houston.  

Please pray it is well-slept and vomit-free. 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Shamian Island

Today we went to Shamian Island.   It is my favorite place in Guangzhou.  Maggie slept through most of it and woke up just in time to be fitted for a few (or more) pairs of squeaky shoes.

Consulate appointment tomorrow!

Medical Appointment and A Little Shopping

Today was our first full day in Guangzhou.  Just being at the China Hotel brings back so many memories of my time here 4 years ago with Ruthie.  I have thought of my old travel group many times and have frequent flashbacks of my time here before.

You will have to forgive my poor picture quality.  These were all taken with my cell phone because there just isn't much room or energy to carry my big 'ole camera when I am trying to keep up with the girls.

Maggie had her medical appointment today.  The doctor asked me 3 times if she had surgery yet like when I answered no the first 2 times I didn't understand.  She would look at Maggie's paperwork and then look at Maggie back and forth several times and then asked for a 2nd copy of her paperwork.   She explained that Maggie's paperwork looked very serious but her presentation was much better.  Yes we know that, thank you.

Maggie charmed all of the doctors and nurses.  She doesn't meet a stranger and is a complete flirt.  Yesterday someone gave her a balloon in the mall and today a nurse brought out a toy and gave it to her.

Her coloring really does look good unless she is crying, having just eaten, or is tired.  She has trouble drinking and breathing.  The first 2 days I just thought she didn't want the cup but now I am discovering that I need to keep offering it frequently.  She is not a finish 8 oz in one sitting kind of girl but rather suck on it off and on over 2 hours.

My sister decided that China might not be so bad after all when she discovered wine in a vending machine.  

After Maggie's nap, we went on a short shopping trip with Ann.  My sister wanted pearls and a pearl ring.  I picked out a few clothing items for the kids that were super cheap. 

A Few More things about Maggie:

* She hates to go to sleep at night.  Because of her heart, crying it out really isn't an option but when I pick her up she wants to play.  You can pray she starts to settle in for naps and bedtime better.

* She loves to take off her left shoe.  It is the craziest thing. She just keeps removing the left one. 

* She is letting me wear her more and that is really sweet time. 

* The head butting has decreased significantly since I started teaching her sign language.  She can already sign that she wants to eat and wants more.  That has really helped with her frustration.

* She only weighs 18 lbs.  We thought she was going to be several pounds bigger but I think they were weighing her with several layers on.  She is the same size Ruthie was when we got her but Ruthie was a year older. 

* I think she may have a milk allergy.  I am struggling with what to give her because her formula seems to upset her stomach and produce some seriously nasty diapers.  Pray for insight there as to what to feed her to make sure she is getting enough nutrition.   The child cannot live on Pedialyte, cereal, and french fries. :)

Thanks everyone for your support and prayers.  I am ready to get home!

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