Wednesday, December 15, 2010

When Life Hands You Lemons...

Make lemonaid! 

 I'm just not sure how to do that just yet.  :)  I finally took my hubby's advice on having a plantar fascia release.  I had been having problems for awhile, tried many conservative treatments, then decided to finally take the surgery route.  That was a couple of months ago, but now the pain is worse.  Not only is it still in the same area, but now I have pain in part of my foot that wasn't hurting and have paresthesia along the bottom of my foot.  So I had an MRI of my foot, and what do you know?  The radiologist apparently tells my husband that the surgery really screwed me up.  Uggh!!!  SO does anyone have any suggestions on how to make something good of this?  I don't blame my podiatrist.  He is a great doctor, and mistakes happen.  I also don't blame my hubby.  He thought this would help because it does on most people when conservative treatments fail, but my problem has been since birth.  I was born with club foot.  Now, I haven't had problems all through life.  I guess my prior gymnastics career, cheerleading, and gym work outs have caught up with me.  We'll see what another specialist says tomorrow.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Two Years Ago Today...

Two years ago today I got the most wonderful phone call from Grace that we had passed court and Maritu and Mamush were now officially part of our family!

Here's a picture of Mamush:

And Maritu:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Yes, It's been awhile.  I guess ADD keeps me from focusing on keeping this blog updated.  But I've decided to share some news.  Mamush had PE tubes placed in his ears in October.  For those of you that know how minor this is for most children, I feel you rolling your eyes, but this was huge for us because this was his second try at tubes.  You see, his ear canals are like a preemie's.  Our local ENT sent us to a friend of his in Houston, Newton Duncan, who deals with Down's children on a daily basis.  Apparently, they also have small canals.  We thought we were going for a consult for hearing aides, but after examining Mamush, Dr. Duncan said he has dealt with smaller ears!   And now he can hear!!!  Imagine the tears that streamed down my face in the recovery room when Mamush said, "That's too loud." 

But that's not all.  Mamush has also been seeing a new pediatric endocrinologist at UTMB in Galveston.  Unlike the resident at Texas Children's Hospital, Dr. Lee has listened to our concerns.  Mamush just had an MRI of this brain a few weeks ago, and Dr. Lee said that it showed he had a very small pituitary.  So now what?  He'll have a return visit in January, and Dr. Lee will begin working on getting growth hormone approved for him.  Surely Blue Cross will see his need.  He is no where near the bottom percentile on a growth chart, he hasn't grown a centimeter in 18 mo., and we have ruled out any other possible causes.  And let me tell you how much of a trooper he is!   The anesthesiologists were commenting on how well behaved he was, and saying that they wished every child was like him.  He has made me proud, and I'm sure his bio parents would be too.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Jingle Bell Ball

Here's my beauty:

But this is really how our family rolls...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Johnson Space Center

Today I got to ride the charter bus with my son's class to Johnson Space Center in Houston.  Was I thinking clearly when I agreed to chaparone third and fourth graders?  :) 

Monday, May 17, 2010

What did you say?

Don't you just love when children learn a language?  They are so stinkin' cute sometimes with the things they say.  This morning I was taking the sheets off of our bed, and Mamush says, "Momma, what's that all about?"  He had me rolling!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Doctor Dolittle

I am a lover of classics, and Doctor Dolittle is just one of them, so now you can see the connection between this pic and my title.  You see, Curran was on a break in between soccer games, so she wanted to go look at these animals.  Some people that are regulars at that park said these nutria are always here but never come up to you.  Well, my husband commented that Curran talks to the animals, and right at that moment, one crawled right up to her!  She fed and petted it!  Oh my! 

Needless to say, we did play all of our games today.  We won the first 2-0 against the Dallas Texans from Austin.  Then we dropped the second 0-2 against the Lonestars.  I was told it was heart-breaking!  Apparently, the first score came from a PK awarded from a yellow card against one of our girls.  Even the other team's parents said they didn't see a foul.  Then the second goal came when the opposing team held our goalie's jersey in the box.  I don't mind losing, but not like that!  I have to place blame on bad officiating!  You know it's just not you when the other team's parents agree.  But we came back with a 6-0 win for our third game which sealed a second place victory.  The best comment of the day was when a few of the Lonestar parents came up to our parents and asked why they hadn't heard of us before.  (I guess we are like Grandma's secret recipe-a well hidden secret!)

Here's  a better pic that one of our parents took of the Nutria:

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Little Curran wants to play!  Soccer that is!  My husband made a trip to Houston for Curran's Director's Cup State Championship games, but as soon as he pulled into the park, he got a message that the games were cancelled due to field conditions.  So, it was another two hour trip home, not to mention the price of gas!  Yikes!  That was okay with me though because we both were able to attend Cullen's dance recital...  My how she's grown!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Eugenics and Modern Racism

  Please visit .  Click on the link and watch the trailer for this documentary.  I believe You Tube also has a couple of trailers too.  (This is especially important to the African community.)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Sometimes I just want to oull my hair out in frustration.  What is going on in the world when we can justify our agency's unethical actions just so we can have a child?  Are we that selfish?  Do the ends justify the means?  Ever?  Do you think that by bullying another person to keep quiet is going to change reality?  One day, the truth WILL come out.  Then, what will your answer be on why you chose to stay silent?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Paboos for Africa

Today Sheridan is 4 years old.  I thought she'd be past the "terrible two" stage by now.  Boy, was I wrong!  But she never ceases to amaze me with the things she comes up with.  We have been preparing Sher for taking away her paboos for awhile now on her 4th birthday.  We tell her that she is a big girl at the magical age of 4, so she told us this morning as she handed her paboos (6 of them) to us that she wanted us to send them to Africa so all  the babies will have something to make them not cry until they have a family. 

She did cry for them tonight when we put her to sleep, but we reminded her that she wanted them sent to Africa.  She really is a big girl!  :)

Friday, April 30, 2010

No More Shots!

This cartoon made me think of our public school system. In Vidor, I was told that I couldn't register my children for school until they had all their shots. I explained that we are on a catch-up schedule as this person already knew they were from another country, but the special education teacher said there were no exceptions. Well, she obviously hasn't read the TEA manual, so I didn't bother arguing. I guess I'll educate the educators when the time comes...

Good news is that Maritu got her last vaccination today. She is officially caught up! This reminds me to tell you to ask your pediatrician to do a catch-up vaccination schedule. There really isn't something official, but just ask that doctor how they'd like to receive 6-8 shots at a time! Not I! So, I can't do that to my children either. Besides, there really is no concensus on what causes autism, so why take the chance? I just asked that they get no more than two at a time. I think the only drawback is that I've felt like our family needs their own room at our doctor's office...

Next, it's Mamush's turn...

Monday, April 26, 2010


Well, now we are officially back into soccer season.  Curran's team is trying to petition for a place in the Super II division.  We have been a Division II team, but we combined with our rivals, the Jasper Twisters, and I have to brag that we have a great group of girls!  We are kicking girl's butts in Division I in tournaments, so there shouldn't be a problem, but we have been told that it depends on how we place in the Director's Cup.  Right now, we qualified for State through our district games, so all I can say is, "Go Xtreme!"

As for Mamush, the last we were told is that the doctors are going to watch his growth for 6 months to a year before deciding on starting treatment.  We were going to have genetic testing done, but we have to wait until we get our insurance straightened out.  What a mess!  Well, Obama's plan that no child would be denied due to pre-existing conditions hasn't taken effect....So much for that....

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What I love about Spring

Sorry for the silence.  I sometimes want a little silence in my life, but now the days are growing longer and the temperature is increasing which inspires me to talk again.  So here's a few pictures of why I love Spring:

Sher peeks around the trellis.

Maritu is showing off Mommy's first blooms.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Test Time

We are here at Texas Children's Hospital for Mush's growth hormone stimulation test, and of course the first thing he asks for this morning is food. He did not like that I ignored his request. But as he soon saw, food was going to be the least of his problems. I say that because he got stuck twice for his IV line. The first one blew immediately, but so far the second one is holding up. We are half way through.

UPDATE: What's worse than getting stuck again? Answer: Mom leaving you with the big, bad nurse that stuck you! :) I had to pee, so I had no choice but to ask the nurse to hold Mamush. He was a real trooper throughout the test. First, he was given clonidine which made him drowsy. Then he had an iv of arginine and his blood was drawn every 30 minutes. The nurse had to flush his tubing with saline several times which made him scream, and if you have ever experienced that, it hurts! The nurse, however, was able to make all of the draws except for the last one. That darned iv line just plugged up tight, but it's over now. SO now we just wait for the results and see what we need to do next. Hopefully we won't have to wait another 3 months for the results. (I think he has to have an MRI of the brain to make sure he doesn't have a tumor on his pituitary gland that could be causing the problems.)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

More Sticks

As if Mamush hasn't had enough "owies", we received a letter in the mail from Texas Children's Center stating that Mamush's labs require further testing.  You think?!!?  We only had those labs drawn in November...!  Good thing he is young because if we were in a race to begin growth hormone treatment before puberty, we'd  be in trouble.  So, Mamush now has to undergo a growth hormone stimulation test next month.  After fasting for 12 hours, he will have an IV placed in his arm.  The staff will then draw an initial growth hormone level.  After that, he will receive periodic IVs of arginine and something else (I can't remember.) which is supposed to stimulate the pituitary gland into producing growth hormone.  They draw blood samples over a 6 hour period.  I guess I have to be thankful that Mamush is the one undergoing this test because Maritu would have a fit if she couldn't eat for 18 hours!  She likes her food!  I just hope I don't have to wait another 3 months for those results. 

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Meet Jane Kurtz

Jane Kurtz, the daughter of missionary parents, grew up in Ethiopia.  She is a talented author that writes children's stories based on her life in Ethiopia.  She is also on the board of Ethiopia Reads which is a non-profit organization designed to bring Ethiopian children books.  And today, I had the privilege of meeting her in Houston and having her sign some of her works I had purchased!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Athlete of the Decade

Here's to you Bekele of Ethiopia for this outstanding accomplishment!

Friday, February 5, 2010

What Did I Say?

I did say I would return to the Social Security office armed with their documents on Monday, but the laugh is on me because apparently there is another social security document that contains their policy.  So, while the Child Immigration Act of 2000 states that I won't need to obtain a US passport or Certificate of Citizenship, this SS document says otherwise if I want the kid's citizenship to be changed in their system.  I will be applying for the US Passport because it is the cheapest, but I also strongly urge everyone to obtain a COC because that is the "ultimate" proof of the children's citizenship status! 

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Will The 3rd Time Be The Charm?

Thursday, I had my 8 year-old son and husband at home with a GI illness (so that's 2 sick children ), so what did I do?   I left!  :)  I thought I'd have the kid's social security cards changed.  We needed to change their names, birth dates, and citizenship status since we readopted them a couple of months ago.  (Oh and the new birth certificates took 8 weeks.)  So, I drove to the nearest SS office only to find that it "cappeared" as my 3 year-old would say.  Luckily, my hubby remembered that he saw a new SS building on the far side of town.  So once again I drove off.  Next, you have to sign in via computer and get your computer-generated number.  When my number was finally called, I met the lady that would be helping me.  (I think I'm going to eventually help her!)  She asked me why I was there, so I pulled out all of my paperwork and stated that I needed to change my children's names, dates of birth, and citizenship status.   She exclaimed in a haughty manner, "My that's a lot!"  I wanted to reply, "Just do your job!"  I didn't though.  I kept my comments to myself while I kept reminding myself of the madness she must see on a daily basis.  Remind me to never work for the SSA if that's the attitude you adopt.  Well, she got out of doing all that work because my lawyer had given me copies of our court papers and not certified copies.  I still didn't want to go home to two sick kids, so I decided to make that drive to the court house.  I would eventually need certified copies anyway.  So, I hop in my car and head back in the opposite direction to a different county.  When I went in and asked for the papers, the lady helping me looked wide-eyed and said, "Your adoption isn't sealed?"  Heck, I don't know.  Wasn't she the one looking at the records?   What was I going to do if the records were sealed and I needed these papers?  I guess the lady seeing the stress on my face said, "Don't worry.  We'll get it straightened out."  I did get those certified copies, and I headed once again clear in the opposite direction.  The wait at the SS office wasn't nearly as long, and I happened to get the same girl.  Oh lucky me!  She was more pleasant this go round, but this time she asked, "Why are you changing their birth dates?"  I was prepared!  I pulled out my Ipod and showed her our Christmas picture and asked her if she thought my son looked like he was 3.  I sensed the shock on her face.  She called in another person, and I felt I had to educate them about another country.  Don't take this the wrong way.  I actually enjoyed this part.  However, I still didn't get the stuff changed.  Ugggh!  They claimed I needed a Certificate of Citizenship       or a US Passport.  Bull!  I stated that the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 states otherwise, and they claimed they looked it up a couple of days ago.  I left defeated and second guessing what I knew, but just wait until Monday!!!  I looked up the Act, as well as the  Social Security policies .  They were wrong, and I will go in Monday armed with copies of those documents.  I mean, they can't possibly know everything.  Foreign adoptions are still very few and far between....

Monday, January 18, 2010

Long, Awaited Mamush Update

I've been trying forever to get my husband to make another post.  The first reason is because I love the way he words things, and the second reason is because he knows all the medical words and explanations.  I didn't want to sound stupid, especially if some medical professional is reading this blog.  And guess what!??!  I finally get to share it today!  Enjoy!


Finally, after a lot of research and string-pulling, we saw the Pediatric Endocrinologist at Texas Children’s hospital. This was quite a battle, considering that every physician that has seen Mamush so far seems to think that he is “normal”. We found Dr. Morey Haymond who is chief of the division of Endocrinology at Texas Children’s Hospital (TCH) via an internet search and convinced our pediatrician to do the referral for us.

Today, we saw an Endocrinology fellow, followed by a whirlwind appearance by a guy named Dr. Jeha. His opinion was that Mamush is malnourished and that we can follow up in three months. Now, I know that I wasn’t the most dedicated student and didn’t make it to every lecture in medical school, but I must have missed a lot more than I thought I did, because this revelation didn’t make any sense to me at all.

Up to this point, we knew that Mamush was below the growth chart for weight. Also, when plotting his height, his dot fell in the middle of the weight chart (below on the same page), somewhere close to where his weight SHOULD be. He also has coloboma, which is a malformation of the eye that involves the pupil and the retina, making him functionally blind in his left eye; This condition is almost always associated with some type of genetic syndrome or growth abnormality. Luckily, his heart, brain and kidneys, the most frequently associated organs, all have turned out to be fine.

We had also brought along labs that I had done in my office under the advice of a friend who is a big-people Endocrinologist. Mamush’s insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) was unmeasurable. IGF-1 is produced in the liver and is responsible for normal growth. IGF-1 is only produced in the presence of human growth hormone (HGH), and therefore is a good measure of HGH levels. All of Mamush’s other labs have been normal so far including blood counts, liver functions, kidney functions and thyroid hormones.

Dr. Jeha mentioned more than once or twice during the visit that some of the same things that we would expect to see in children with HGH deficiencies are also found in children who are malnourished. He also asked several times how long Mamush had been in our home and seemed to imply that prior to his migration to the US, he somehow was deprived of nourishment. I tried to tell him that we knew that Mamush had been in the transitional home since he was less than a few months old and that there had never been any evidence that he was EVER malnourished. I even tried to translate it into big, important, pompous Doctor words so he could understand more easily. He also explained away the non-existent IGF-1 level by saying that hormone deficiency can be a result of severe malnourishment. (Did I mention that ALL of his other labs were normal? I wonder if this was a case of selective malnourishment that only involved this one hormone…..)

Now, there is a saying in medical school that if you hear hoofbeats in North America, you shouldn’t expect to see a herd of zebras. Also, I think my dad used to say something like: “Don’t pee on my leg and then try to tell me that it’s raining.” I guess if Dr. Jeha had been raised by my dad, he would have been less likely to assume that a non-existent IGF-1 level had NOTHING to do with a child that wasn’t growing.

I have to be fair to Dr. Jeha. Not that I want to, but because my wife tells me to be nice. He did concede that Mamush’s food intake had been adequate, and we had also mentioned that Mamush suffers from frequent (and rancid, in my opinion) diarrhea. Dr. J was concerned that his malnutrition might be as a result of malabsorption of nutrients from a gastrointestinal issue. He recommended that we get an appointment with Gastroenterology (GI) before we follow up. Also, our pediatrician’s records were HIDEOUS when it came to following height and weight over the past year. We agreed to see GI and keep height and weight records until the next visit. We also left with a lab order for more tests, including a repeat IGF-1 level to see if it had changed. (Dr. J obviously didn’t pay attention to the date on the current level that was drawn the previous week. I know, be nice.)

We left the Endo clinic and went to GI to see if I could flash my Dr’s Club card and get us a walk in appointment. No such luck. They were all out of town at a conference except one doctor who happened to know me…..he wouldn’t see us either. He said he was too busy, being the only Pediatric Gastroenterologist in the largest children’s hospital in the South. I think it was because he remembered me. Holly probably would agree.


We finally got to see the Gastroenterologist today. There was no fellow today, and the Gastroenterologist, Dr. Redel, arrived at her opinion faster than Dr. Jeha had at the previous visit. (I wish I could do that. It would make my days a whole lot shorter. Maybe I can take some classes from them.) The difference this time was that Dr. Redel didn’t see any zebras. She walked in the room, introduced herself, looked at Mamush and said, “That kid isn’t malnourished.” She then took the next several hours (it seemed like) to explain why she didn’t think we needed to be in the GI clinic at all. The labs this time showed a non-existent IGF-1 (again), a normal IGF-BP3 (a binding protein for IGF-1 that is also produced in the liver), marginally low prealbumin (an indicator of recent, short-term calorie intake) and a high total albumin (a protein that is a very good measure of nutrition status over the long-term). Dr. Redel said that a marginally low prealbumin is common and has no significance. She also said that Endocrinologists like to blame the GI tract for Endocrine problems and it’s not uncommon for them to get all worked up over a low prealbumin. She told us to go away. She did, however, order some more labs: a RAST panel for food allergies, a t-Transglutaminase (tTG), and a stool alpha-1-antitripsyn (both to look for celiac sprue, a gastrointestinal gluten sensitivity). All of these eventually came back normal.

After leaving the GI office, I happened to say something about that I wish I could talk to Dr. Haymond. Holly said we should go look for him. This time, my Dr.’s Club card did us some good. We were directed to Dr. Haymond’s academic offices where everyone was more than helpful and soon we were talking with Dr. Haymond. We told him much of what had gone on so far. He looked at Mamush and whatever labs we had with us. He told us that he would look into it and that he would call us. We went home feeling like we might actually get some help this time.


Dr. Haymond called the house tonight?! It’s the day after Christmas and the man has nothing better to do than to call our house? He actually apologized for not being more prompt with his followup….WHATEVER! I wish I could get that kind of customer service at WalMart! He told me that he was very sure that Mamush had some type of dwarfism and that it was likely primarily and Endocrine problem. He had looked at the labs and was sure that the low HGH was responsible for the growth issues. We discussed some details about the labs, etc. that (I hope) I already knew. I just needed to hear it from him to put it all together. IGF-1 and IGF-BP3 are both produced in the liver when HGH is present. Hormones are very tricky to figure out when there is a deficiency. Since IGF-1 and IGF-BP3 are dependent on HGH for their production, one would assume that a deficiency of the first would always mean a deficiency of the other. This is not the case. The HGH has to bind to a receptor to exert its influence. There is also the possibility that the receptors can be defective or blocked by an antibody. What we are missing is an HGH level to match up with the deficient IGF-1. Either way, we know there is a deficiency of some type. If the HGH is normal, then it’s a receptor problem and what Mamush will need is IGF-1 replacement therapy. If the HGH is low, then he will need HGH replacement. Dr. Haymond also wants a “micro-array for gene deletion” lab done. This would be to look for genetic abnormalities responsible for all of these problems. He said we can try to get it done here, but recommends that we wait to get it done at TCH, because he only trusts their lab. We will also need to get an MRI of the brain, but Mamush will have to be asleep for that, so we will also do that at TCH.

So we finally got past all the zebra hunters and got an answer.

I think I’m going to write a book for medical professionals. The title is going to be: QUACK! No, Not You, It’s a Duck, You Idiot."

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Happy To Be Nappy

 Want to win this first edition, hardcover book ? Check out the blog  Happy Girl Hair and register by February 4th! 

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Feet On American Soil

One year ago today we were finally home.  We all made it together, and have been changed forever by our experiences. 

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Melkam Genna

One year ago we had our first taste of an Ethiopian Christmas...sheep and all!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Hospital Day

One year ago today we were taken to Hyungsung Children's Medical Center to get a chest x-ray for Maritu and sputum culture so we could obtain her visa .  Mamush also had to be tested.  After waiting for hours, we learned that the Embassy would not hear Maritu's case until we had 3 negative gastric washings.  It wasn't enough that she had a negative chest x-ray.  We really weren't sure now if that was even possible with the doctors on vacation for the Ethiopian Christmas. 

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Gotcha Day...

Not! One year ago we pulled into Hope's care center awaiting that picture perfect moment when we see the kids for the first time. I burst into tears from the anxiety. Okay. Reality check. It wasn't picture perfect but definitely memorable. We pull in and walk inside. We meet Tseday, Hope's nurse, who tells us the kids aren't there. She then hands us some prescription bottles. Ken looks at them and his eyes get big, and then he shows them to me. They are TB meds for Maritu! What the heck? We find out for the first time that she has been receiving treatment for a month. These next few days really seem like some plot from a soap opera. I didn't know what to say or do. We were already there, so I just thought I'd do what I do best...take pictures! Soon Tseday comes to us and says the kids were back, so I told Ken to turn on the video camera because it is a motherly moment. Oops! Someone forgot to tell Maritu. She took one look at us and started screaming! Not quite what I wanted to capture on camera, but it is something we can look back at and laugh.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Day We Arrived

or was it night? It was really hard to get adjusted to the new time. I remember being so excited to have survived the plane ride and land in a new country. What did the future hold? I have to laugh now and you must excuse my dry humor, but our first experience in Africa was scary. Our agency failed to have anyone at the airport to pick us up, and it was very late when we arrived. I guess I trusted my agency, so all of my contact phone numbers were packed, but how was I to call anyone anyhow with no phone? We finally got a taxi that was willing to take us to Bole Rock Guest House for $20. Little did we know that we could have walked, and we just got "took"! We were safe, and that's all that matters, right?