Saturday, February 27, 2010

Twiggy Three got an Owie

Twiggy Three was on a 4 wheeled scooter at church and got swung into an open door. Ouch!!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I'm starting my twiggy updates with Twiggy Three since he has been at the forefront of our attention lately due to his hospital visit. More of that in a minute. The above photos are two of my favorites because they show him in at his utmost happiest. He can be quite goofy and loves to have the family laughing at him. He also loves, loves, loves to be tickled and wrestled with, hence the above photos where I was flipping him on my knees. I also love these photos because they remind me of his good days. He has given us a lot of difficult days over the years so the happy moments are cherished. Don't you just want to kiss that face?!

He is currently in kindergarten, gymnastics and Awana. I am attempting to teach him some piano, but he has a high frustration level so we keep lessons and practice time to brief spurts when he is interested. He excels in school and is loving learning to read. A couple of months ago his teacher did the kindergarten end of year tests with him and he scored nearly 100% on all of them. That's why he and I do a first grade curriculum in the mornings. He's a mama's boy until Daddy walks by with his tools, then it's "see ya later, mama" and off to do a man's job! He is very intrigued with how things work, and especially with changing battteries. It seems like every time I turn around he's got a screwdriver and is "checking" the batteries on something.

Now on to the hospital visit: A couple of weeks ago he woke up with extreme lethargy and was in and out of wakefulness, so off we went to ER. Discovered he had very low blood sugar and was admitted to be watched overnight. Since that time we have been monitoring his blood sugar levels and just had his follow up with his pediatrician yesterday. He and I also had an appointment with a Diabetes Educator this morning which encouraged me that I had been doing all the right things but gave me some additional resources to help us keep Twiggy Three's blood sugars at a good level. He does not have Diabetes, but his numbers are on the higher end. My main objective is to keep his carb intake consistent throughout his day so that his blood sugars stay the same. Highs and lows wear out cells over time and eventually can lead to diabetes. (I hope I said all this right...anyone out there who knows more than I do, please feel free to comment)

Monday, February 22, 2010

An Average Day at our House

Mr. Branch heads out early to get to his property management job by 7:00 a.m. Twiggy One gets picked up for 7th grade at private school at 7:30 while Twiggy Two does her daily reading homework then meets the neighborhood kids to ride bikes or scooters to the public school around the corner for 3rd grade. Twiggy Three and I hang out in the morning doing household chores as well as a 1st grade home school curriculum before he heads out to kindergarten at the public school at 12:20.

Before the school pickup at 3:15, I do one of two things: teach piano lessons or donate plasma. I have 11 piano students, most of whom are home schoolers so that I'm free after school for my twigs. Some may laugh at donating plasma, but it's a pretty good income for 2-3 hours of my time. While I'm in that area of town, I do whatever shopping I may need to do so my gas is not wasted.

After the school pick up, piano is practiced, homework done, and Awana verses practiced. If the weather is nice, all the neighborhood kids are out and lots of bike riding, trampolining, and basketball happens.

Evenings find us either at gymnastics for Twiggy Two and Three, my cleaning job that Twiggy One gets paid to help me with, or Awana at church (where I'm a leader). Sundays, all Twiggys participate in the children's choir at church and Mr. Branch picks his brother so they can sing in the adult choir. Every 4th Sunday, I teach the 3's class during the morning church hour. Once a month, Mr. Branch runs sound for the morning service. He occassionaly runs sound for other events like weddings, funerals, and the special programs.

Now for some personality tidbits... The best way to describe Mr. Branch is that he is a quiet servant. He is the good guy that everyone likes and that likes to help folks with whatever they need. He's an amazing deal finder! Just for example, he recently got a $200 store credit for turning in new, unexpired printer cartridges that were being excessed at work. Way too funny! He is a supportive husband and father, encouraging us all in our endeavors. His sense of humor is dry but very funny if you wait for it. One of my favorite things to do is to make him laugh. His belly laugh is priceless.

Hmmm...I thought it would be easy to talk about myself, but I'm finding it hard to describe myself. Maybe I should have family members do this post. Uh, on second thought, maybe not! What I think other people see is that I'm organized, frugal and resourceful, a hard worker, a fun teacher, and mission minded. My overall goal in life is to grow in my relationship with Christ and to share His love with anyone I can. My next goal is just to have fun. The Bible tells us that God intended us to have life abundantly. That means deep, meaningful relationships. So for me, meaningful means having lots of fun together. I love to laugh and be a kid. One of my friends call me her "fun" friend. I'm not sure what that says about her other friends (grin) but I like it. So, combining my frugalness with the desire to have fun means lots of resourcefullness goes on around here. We have a VERY old tent trailer that doesn't even fit all of us and an even older, 70's green boat. But, boy, do we have fun camping and tubing. Two of the three twiggys have never been to Disneyland, so when Disney began their "Give a Day, Get a Day" program, you better believe we were all over that. We all volunteered a day and received a free Disney ticket. So, between the free tickets and driving instead of flying, we're making a dream come true in May for not very much money. And yes, I coupon. It is such a rush to walk out of a store with free or nearly free stuff. I save our family so much but I also have lots of fun in the process. For a busy mom, a little bit of couponing fun goes a long way!

Well, it's time for lunch so I'll have to save writing about the Twiggys until a later post. Twiggy Three has a followup doctor appointment tomorrow after his stay in the hospital 2 weeks ago for low blood sugar. I'll let you know what the doctor says.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Who We Are

While we wait for our agency to review our application, I thought I'd share a bit of our story for those who don't know. Mr. Branch and I met at Multnomah Bible College in 1990 but didn't start dating until 1993. We were at the "just friends" stage for a long time until suddenly one day we weren't anymore. As soon as we began dating, I just knew that he was the one. It all made sense why we were such good friends. After graduation, he moved home to find a job and as soon as he did he proposed. (For those who need details, he changed the words to a choir song we had performed together and gave me a ring he had designed...wonderful memories!!!) Our wedding day was full of meaning and special moments. We both hold dear the first time we saw each other that day. Since pictures were before the ceremony, we had reserved time in the prayer chapel for some quiet time together. I'll never forget the look on his face when he saw me in my dress...

Being that Mr. Branch was already 28 and I was nearly 25 (oh, so old), we decided to start a family right away. Well, that was our plan anyway. God had a different one, however, and after 4 years of infertility and miscarriage we adopted Twiggy One from China. I had taught English there during college summer breaks so it was a natural decision. Three years later we returned to China to adopt Twiggy Two.

Between their adoptions I began struggling with severe endometriosis and had several surgeries locally that had little effect. We were told that there was little chance I would ever get pregnant again. In desperation, I visited a world renowned specialist who performed two successful surgeries. Six months later I was pregnant with Twiggy Three.

Our journey has had it's ups and downs, but through it all God has been faithful to be all that we need. His plan has been much better than ours and we trust Him for our future.

Next post: What we're up to these days...

Monday, February 15, 2010

All Twiggys Now Know

Happy Presidents Day!

Eleven years ago today, a message was left on our answering machine while we traveled that our adoption agency had a match for us. Much to our chagrin we had to wait until the next morning to find out details. We were delighted the next morning to hear that we would share our anniversary with Twiggy One's birthday. A little over a month later we held her in our arms. I can still remember how she felt... And how Twiggy Two felt... And how Twiggy Three felt...

... And now my arms are aching to hold Twiggy Four.

This morning as we began our holiday, we reviewed our Pastor's sermon yesterday on First Corinthians 13:7 where it talks about love always protecting. We talked about how special a family's love is for each other. Then we showed Twiggy Two and Three the video we have of our little guy and told them that we'd like to bring him into our family to love and protect. They were very receptive, even excited.

So, we'll get our application in the mail tomorrow and see where this all leads. We may be denied from the country as our family is considered a large family, but if this is God's will, He can make it happen.

**We are not allowed to post pictures or mention online which country our little guy is from. Sorry!**

Thursday, February 11, 2010

How We Got Here

As I said in my profile, Mr. Branch and I have often wished Twiggy Three had a brother to play with and do "boy" stuff. It concerns us just a tad bit that his favorite color is pink. That's what happens when the girls outnumber the boys in the house. LOL. But the time has not been right, nor did we think it ever would be. We both had pretty much dismissed the idea. Well, in January God put it on my heart again. As I pondered, I realized that this time, the time may be right. I requested some info on Waiting Children and quietly let God work in my heart. I did not mention this to Mr. Branch because I was praying that God would bring it to his heart without me. Well, one day we were at our bank getting a document notarized and the teller helping us was one that assisted us years ago with the girls' adoptions. I could see that she wanted to ask if we were adopting again so I casually put her mind at ease by telling her "no". Well, much to my surprise, Mr. Branch added, "Well, at least not yet!". My heart did a flip-flop! Did he just say that?! We hadn't talked about this in a looooooong time. Hmmm.... As we drove home, I had to fill him in on my "covert" actions...a DVD of Waiting Children was due in the mail any time. He just grinned. He knows me too well!!!

When we adopted the girls, we were open to minor correctable medical conditions, and actually were told that Twiggy One had a condition when her referral was sent to us. Shortly thereafter, we were advised that she was, in fact, completely healthy. And she was! We were glad for her sake, however, a bit disappointed that we didn't get to adopt a little one that may not be so "adoptable" due to special needs. The desire to adopt an older child has remained through the years.

Since we don't qualify for China due to income levels per household member, we had to look elsewhere. Twiggy One and I went on a mission trip to Southeast Asia in 2008, so it was quite natural to look there. As I scanned the Waiting Child list, I primarily was looking for a boy born in 2007. That would make all 4 twigs three years apart all the way down. Plus, a 3 or 4 year old seems like a good fit for where we are as a family. Twiggy Three will be 6 next week and we really don't want to start completely over again. I was also looking at birth dates. We have a thing for birthdays at our house... Twiggy One's is our anniversary, Twiggy Two's is Valentine's Day (who needs to go out on a date?!) and Twiggy Three was due on Twiggy Two's birthday but waiting 4 more days to be born on a very special great-grandpa's birthday. So, how do you match all that? Could there be a birthday that could fit in there somewhere? Well, sure enough, there was. At first I overlooked this little guy because his birthday didn't stand out to me. Shallow, I know! Some of the other birthdays would be a stretch, but we could make it work. However, once I requested more info on them, they had already found homes. I prayed that God would show us if there was a child we were supposed to look at or if we were supposed to consider this little guy. Well, one day it came to me. His birth month is the same month as my dad's and his birth date is the same as my mom's! So, there you have it. The perfect combination!! And his birth month fits neatly between the other three twigs.

Since that day, we have been praying and pondering if this is where God was leading us. We just sent family an email bringing them up to speed and asking the to pray with us. Is this from God or just a selfish, human desire? (Of course, I have to chuckle at the selfish part because who's going to be doing the caretaking??? That's the part that makes me swallow I ready to sacrifice myself again for another person? Do I have it in me?)

Most of the family has given us a hearty "yippee", so Mr. Branch and I just need a few moments of quiet (when we're awake enough to talk about it). Maybe we'll get the application mailed out this weekend...