Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Happenings at the Maxwell house

Since I started my last blog post with something along the lines of, "wow, it's been forever since I've blogged!" I'll refrain from also beginning this post the same way.

The truth is, a lot of life has been happening here at the Maxwell house. We are in the midst of a really exciting season, but also a really full, tiring one.

I've shared our exciting news on facebook and instagram already, but for those of you who don't follow me there you may not know, the end of July we received some really amazing news! Ivan was evaluated for a surgery we had been praying would be an option for him for years. We were finally able to get him an appointment at Gillette's Children's hospital and to our amazement they approved him to have the Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy. Every specialist we'd seen in ND, told us he would never be a candidate for it and that we were just wasting our time trying to get him evaluated. We could not be more excited for what this surgery may mean for our boy. If the SDR is successful, Ivan will no longer have to live with painful spasticity in his legs.

In August Ivan had a brain and spinal MRI done locally and sent to Gillette just to make sure that everything looked good to move forward with the surgery. The results held no red flags so then we just waited to hear back with a surgery date.

Last week we finally received the anticipated call. We were hoping to have the surgery done Sometime in October, but the earliest dates they had available would put us in the hospital over Christmas. Ryan and I both agreed that would be way too hard and not fair for Ivan or the other kids so we decided on the first available date in the New Year which is, January 11th.

So now that we have a date we are busy getting things settled with our insurance, figuring out child care, and working to pay off medical bills and save for the extended amount of time that I will be in St. Paul with Ivan and Vienna.

We are looking forward to December when I will again cut back on my evening and weekend work hours and we can enjoy plenty of family time before the exciting changes that the New year will bring.

We appreciate all of your prayers for our family during this exciting, but exhausting season we are in. God has been so faithful to us. He has filled our home with an absurd amount of joy and laughter and He sustains us through the long days when our human strength fails us. We are anticipating and praying that this surgery will be nothing short of a miracle for our special boy. It's so obvious that God has a remarkable plan for his future.

Ivan has begun 1st grade and is loving his new school. Gresham is really enjoying preschool!! He is learning so much and loves spelling and writing his name. He is such a kind sweet boy! Lover of animals and protector of his baby sister.

Gresh and Landon are still best buds and inseparable. With Landon's crazy imagination and strong will, and Gresham's fearlessness and endless energy, you can imagine the mischief they get into together :) 

This baby girl is growing a little too fast and is already crawling every where, chasing her big sibs around, pulling up to stand, and her new favorite, climbing stairs!

She loves eating, especially if she can eat what the bigs are eating.

This girl just amazes me everyday! It is so hard to believe that she is the same little baby we brought home a year ago. She is so close to taking steps on her own.
She was just fitted for some Sure Step SMO's which will give her better support in her ankles and feet.
Watch our world!! This girl is unstoppable!!

Look mom no hands!

Sometimes I just can't believe that one life can hold so much joy. We are so blessed by these little crazies! I'm also really glad we invested in a big table years ago :)

Trying on her new backpack. She will begin preschool soon!! I'm not sure how I'll handle my first morning at home without this little love, but she's ready to go!

This little one loves to play. She actually hits and keys and makes her own music!

These two are already best friends.  They share a room, clothes, toys, and a whole lot of giggles together!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Finding Splendor in the Noise

I know it's been forever since I've sat down and blogged.

It's not that I haven't meant to, it's just that every opportunity I've had the chance, I've instead chosen to sleep, collapse on the couch with a bowl of cereal and netflix, sit and stare at an empty wall, etc.

It hasn't been that the words to this post haven't been floating around in my head, it's just the clarity of mind I've needed to actually put together a post that makes any semblance of sense to any one else, isn't usually available after bedtime.

Things have been so amazingly good.

Like really, really, really GOOD.

It seems like Vienna has always been with us. She is such a laid back baby and is usually content just watching the action that's always going on around her. She smiles, coos, and giggles at her siblings. She never complains about Emma constantly wiping her face, giving her slobbery open mouth kisses, or even sitting on her when she's in her bouncer (we're working on putting a stop to the last one). She is SO loved and adored!!

Now that Summer is officially upon us and school is out, we are trying to find our new routines. I'm trying to figure out how to manage therapies, appointments, house work, and phone calls while at the same time ENJOYING my 5 greatest blessings.

It's so easy to just want to "get through" our busy days.

I've really been trying to challenge myself to seek out and create meaningful moments in the chaos of this crazy Summer.

When your sanity seems to be hanging in the balance, it's so tempting to want to wish away the hard season of caring for multiple littles.

I live in a small house that is always echoing with the audacious laughter of preschool boys. It's completely normal to hear the pounding of little feet running on creaky wood floors and a wheelchair being raced around the kitchen/dining room loop while the child in the wheelchair screams with half delight and half terror that at any moment he'll crash into a wall.

There is usually at least one child screaming or crying at any given point of my day.

I spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to get kids to put away their toys, wear socks in their shoes, and drink out of any cup that isn't the beloved "pink kitty cup" (which is actually a bear, but I've learned to choose my battles ;)

I'm stressed out from fighting Medicaid and a school system that might not have my child's best interest in mind.

It's hard... 

Sometimes I feel like I need a room with padded white walls to just go and have a moment of silence to decompress. Heck, I would settle for an uninterrupted trip to the bathroom...

It's crazy... like... all. the. time.

It's easy to let the stress, the never ending to do list, the medical bills, the fear of the future, and just the constant noise, get to you.

One day when I was still big and pregnant with Vienna, I was taking a quick (the only kind when you have little ones) shower, trying not to let the fact that Emma was unraveling a whole roll of toilet paper and the boys were having world war 3 outside the locked door, bother me, but it wasn't working. I was overwhelmed with worry of what having 5 kids would mean for us and felt like I would never have a normal life ever again.

It's just too loud and crazy God... I feel like it's too much... I can't hear You anymore and I can't do this without You.

That's when God spoke directly to my heart... Life will always be loud Natalie. You have to learn to praise me in the noise before you can ever hear me in the quiet.

I can't explain it, but that epiphany (or whatever you want to call it) was a game changer for me.

Since then I've tried to not be constantly trying to change my circumstances. I'm trying to remind myself I don't need to quiet the noise, and instead I've been seeking God's still small voice in the chaos.

I've learned that even if everything feels like it's falling apart and is going crazy around you, you can still find peace and joy in the refuge of Christ.

We've probably all heard the saying, "Don't miss the forest for the trees". This saying is meant to encourage you to not lose sight of the bigger picture, but I've been thinking of it backwards lately.

I believe that when we follow God's will for our lives, a lot of times, He'll lead us into some really huge, scary forests, they may even seem pretty dark and lonely at times.

I'm realizing that the crazy forest I find myself in, is made up of some really beautiful trees.

 I cherish the moments when my heart stops to take a deep breath, when my sleep deprived eyes focus for a moment and I can see the beauty that God is making with our crazy mess; the trees that are sprouting redemption and beauty everyday!

"They will be called Oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor."

Now for a long overdue update on our crew...

Ivan graduated from Kindergarten last week. It was an emotional day for this mama and his teachers as he will be going to a different school next year and leaving behind the school I grew to love and trust. He was so loved there! At every one of the meetings we had to discuss him, every one went around the table and said what a "joy" he is. How he lights up every room he enters, genuinely loves others, and works so hard to learn new things. I cried tears of joy after every visit to his school because I am so humbled to be this kiddos mama. To know that if we wouldn't of adopted him 2 1/2 years ago he likely would not be alive today and here he is inspiring others and spreading the joy God has given him, on a daily basis...

There are no words...

Ivan means "gracious gift" and that is exactly what this child is.

I don't know what the future holds for Ivan and that's really scary at times, but if God taught me anything by sending Ivan to school this past year, it's that God loves this boy more than I ever could and He has an amazing plan for his life.


This kid turned 4 in April!! Having my first baby turn 4 while at the same time having a newborn definitely reminded me how quickly life goes by. Sometimes when I'm holding Vienna I see Landon's expressions in her face and I can barely take the beauty and relentlessness of passing time.  Oh Landon, how can the sweetest heart, strongest will, and the most hilarious personality all be wrapped up into one little body? All I can say is, thank you Lord and God help us all haha
#this kid

 I have so much to say about this little one, who first brought some pink into our home of all blue. We can hardly think of milestones fast enough for this girl. She's now cruising up and down the stairs, taking steps with support, and walking alongside furniture all on her own. It wont surprise me if she's walking by the end of Summer. She'll be attending preschool next year with Gresham which is crazy when I remember where she was at just 10 months ago, when we brought her and Gresh home. She was a baby in every way except her age, but now she is looking and acting like the toddler she should be. She brings so much spunk and laughter into our lives.

No doubt she will continue to astound us and spread joy wherever she goes!!

 Then there's my little Gresh. This kid keeps us on our toes, for sure! In less than 7 days he bent a bone in his arm (fell off his bunk bed) and had surgery to correct his droopy right eye lid. He looked pretty rough, but he didn't miss a beat.

All smiles before surgery

After surgery

The night after surgery we couldn't keep him from racing around with the new scooters grandpa got them. On your mark...
Get set... and there's Landon cheating... typical haha
Last week of school. Gresham really enjoyed going to preschool and is excited to go again next year. He will be in kindergarten with Landon the following year which they are both really excited about.

 He brought me home a mothers day card he made for me at school. He was so excited to give it to me. I was struck by the realization that this may not have been my first Mothers Day, but it was HIS first Mother's Day.

It has been a tough road, but this little boy has experienced so much healing. The transformation of his heart, mind, and life has been incredible to watch.

God is so good!! We are so grateful for our Gresham.

Lastly, our precious little bundle of joy.

Our #5

The biggest shock and greatest surprise of our life!

My sweet Vienna Faith, I spent so many months filled with you and filled with so much anxiety about what life would be like with you. I feel so silly now for fearing you. You are a little piece of Heaven in this crazy season of life we're in. When everything is overwhelming, I close my bedroom door and escape in your smell, the sound of your breathing, the curve of your little nose, the soft perfection of your skin. I am reminded of God's goodness and unconditional love when you reach up to touch my face.
These moments feel too holy sometimes.
You are a miracle.
On really hard days, I find myself telling you that "I will do better with you." I joke with your daddy that "at least we haven't messed you up yet.", but I'm only partly joking. I want so badly to never let you down. I never want you to lose the look of complete contentment and adoration you have when our eyes lock. Sometimes I catch myself raising my voice at your brothers, when I realize that you are right there, I hope to myself that you didn't notice. I never want to disappoint you my love and yet I know that I must.
I know you will grow and take all the natural steps towards independence. I know I must disappoint you and remind you that the world does not indeed revolve around you (although right now, I love that a piece of our little world does). You are my baby, you will always be my baby, but I will make mistakes with you. I will raise my voice when I shouldn't. I will let things go when I should be firm. I'll walk away when I should stay and make things right and I'll stay and say things I will regret when I should walk away. I will discipline when I should give grace, and I will unknowingly put conditions on my love when that isn't what Love is at all.
I will drop the ball with you as well my child. I hate that inevitable truth, but there's one thing I'm certain of. I can not love you perfectly, but I can point you to the One who is the perfect embodiment of Love. I cannot give you everything you will want in Life, but I will do whatever I can to make sure you know the Giver of Life. Yes, I will make mistakes, but I pray you never doubt my love for you and that you always know Who loves you more.
You were His before you were mine and I promise I'll do my best to trust Him with you every day of your life.

Vienna Faith 3 months old.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Vienna Faith

Well this post is long overdue.

Our precious little bundle is three weeks old today!!

After a very quick and intense labor Vienna Faith Maxwell was born on February 12th at 4:57pm weighing 7Ibs 7oz.

Absolute perfection.

We are so in love with our little Via.

Adjusting to a family of 7 has gone smoother than I could of hoped for. It hasn't been without it's overwhelming moments, but she has already blessed our lives beyond measure and, I know I've said this after our adoptions as well, but we seriously can't imagine our family without her now.

She just fits with us... so perfectly.

She is such a happy and laid back baby

She can sleep through absolutely anything. Probably because she is used to all the craziness that she could hear happening outside the womb.

I tried to get a picture of my matching daughters, but well, you can tell how that went ;)

Emma's still not quite sure what to make of her baby sissy.

Thank you to everyone who prayed for my pregnancy, delivery, and the adjustment of our family. We have been amazed by how well the kids have handled all the change and we know we have the power of prayer to thank for that.

Also, thank you to everyone who has blessed us with meals, encouragement, gifts, and groceries while I was on bed rest and since we brought our precious blessing home. I am brought to tears when I think of how blessed we are by our community.

You guys love us so well, thank you will never be enough. Please know we love you and couldn't do our life well without you.

Most importantly, thank you Jesus for seeing fit to bless us with our fifth baby. I am overwhelmed with a mixture of sorrow and gratitude when I remember how scared, and angry I was at times, of this perfect miracle. Does she make our life harder? Yes, but I've come to realize that every eternal blessing will cause us to give up some easy in one form or another.

Unconditional love will always cost us something.

It's when we open our clenched hands...

It's when we surrender our easy...

or even surrender our hard for something even harder...

that we find a meaningful life.

I came across this post on facebook a while back and what Jim Gaffigan said really struck me.

Comedian Jim Gaffigan has 5 children; here's how he answers the "Why so many?!" question:

“Well, why not? I guess the reasons against having more children always seem uninspiring and superficial. What exactly am I missing out on? Money? A few more hours of sleep? A more peaceful meal? More hair? These are nothing compared to what I get from these five monsters who rule my life. I believe each of my five children has made me a better man. So I figure I only need another thirty-four kids to be a pretty decent guy."  

Each of our kids have a very unique story about how they came to be in our family. I can tell you that we don't consider any of our kids "planned" by us. Each of them has changed our lives dramatically, but they've changed our hearts even more dramatically.

It's not the perfect family photo I was hoping for. Life with 5 kids never really goes the way we plan, but we have found so much joy and beauty in the craziness. So although we may never get another picture with everyone smiling at the camera (or even looking at it), we wouldn't trade this crazy life for picture perfect for anything.