Friday, December 31, 2010

Favorite Photos from 2010

Here are some of my favorite pics of our family from 2010.  Tomorrow I am going to post my dreams and goals for 2011.

 A beautiful sight when I came down the escalator after picking up Grace & Sera from Ethiopia.

Sera at Disney World 

One of our favorites from Disney World

 Favorite picture of my boys this year

 Big boy holding his own bottle

 Favorite picture of the girls this year.  Do you see the drama?

Sister Love

Our family picture taken by Rob Dickes

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Blessings!!!

A few days before Christmas I wrote a post about my Christmas Wish List.   I am so blessed that God has placed family and friends in our lives that care about our hearts desires.  Look what I got for Christmas!!!!!

The kids were also blessed with a basket full of goodies, which included warm blankets to cuddle with, candy, popcorn, a few movies AND the Toy Story 3 movie.  Jacob LOVES Toy Story. We have watched it several times and each time Jacob gets tickled at the same scene.  For your enjoyment here is Jacob enjoying Toy Story 3.

Monday, December 27, 2010

If you would like to make a tax deductible donation to our adoption fund you may do so through Lifesong for Orphans.  Here are the two ways to make donations. . .

1.  Make a direct online donation on the Lifesong website.   Please indicate in the "purpose line" the following "Maas Family #989 adoption fund".

2.  You may send your donation through the mail to:  Lifesong for Orphans, P.O. Box 40, 202 N. Ford Street, Gridley, IL 61744.  In the memo section of your check put:  Maas #989 adoption fund.

In order to report this donation on your 2010 taxes the donation must be completed online or postmarked by December 31, 2010.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Christmas Wish List

Is it sad that my Christmas Wish List consists of mostly small kitchen appliances?? 
 Electric Skillet (mine recently died)
 Crock pot (ours is too small)

 Keurig Coffee Pot (simply a luxury item)

Rice Cooker/Vegetable Steamer (we are eating a lot more rice and fresh veggies)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Typical night at our house

The girls are trying to watch "Big Time Rush" and the boys are getting some energy out.  I say trying because they cannot hear the TV.

Thanks & Prayer Request

Recently, we have been averaging 80-90 hits a day on our blog.  This is very exciting!!  I had no idea that many people would be interested in what goes on in our lives.  If you haven't already please leave me a comment and introduce yourself or become a follower of my blog.  I would love to follow your blog if you have one.  I am so encouraged by reading other's blogs and I have gotten some great parenting tips from you.  Thank you for being an encouragement to our family and supporting us as we navigate through life.

I also wanted to tell you of a few prayer request for our family. 

1.  Our dossier is on its way to Ethiopia.  The timing of our court date is a concern.  We have another child having major surgery on March 24th.  Recovery time is a couple of weeks.  We really would like to have a court date prior to March 24th. 

2.  We still need to raise $13,000 for adoption fees and travel. 

3.  We continue to look for a home that will meet our families needs and future children.  Our hearts desire is to continue adopting and loving children with special needs.  Our home continues to be an obstacle for us.  Please stay in pray with us as we continue to look for a home.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Our 13th Wedding Anniversary

I am still amazed by how God put two completely opposite people together to make a perfect match.  I have never shared on my blog how I met my husband.  So here is the story . . .

A friend invited me to a cookout with her young adult group at church.  As the night went on most everyone left except 5 or 6 of us.   I knew absolutely no one except the friend who invited me.  We decided to play truth or dare around the bonfire.  Well, those of you who know us personally know that my husband is a goofball.  So, during the game of truth or dare he asks me, truth or dare.  I chose truth.  His question, "do you want to go out with me?".  Mind you we had only known each other a couple of hours.  I, of course, got embarrassed and hid under the blanket I was staying warm with.  When it was my turn to ask truth or dare I sent the question back to him.  Do you want to ask me out?  Of course he answered, YES. 

He had to go out of town that next week so two weeks later we went on our first date, that was in October 1997.  We went out to lunch after church.  We could not stop talking so after lunch we went back to his house and talked for hours.  I think we spent every free moment together from that day on.  We started looking at engagement rings after a couple of weeks.   In November 1997 Darren proposed to me with a fortune cookie.  Yes, that is only one month after we met.

We really did not want to wait to get married.  We were 25 and 26 years old.  We really could not find a good reason to wait so in December 1997 my father married us a week before Christmas. YES, that is only two months after we had our first date.  We planned a Wedding Celebration for the next summer so we could celebrate with all our extended family and freinds. You cannot plan a wedding in one month.  So that is our LOVE story!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sera FINALLY has a diagnosis

I have tried to post to my blog for the last few days without success.  You will have to wait to hear about our weekend festivities because I have bigger things to discuss now.  I will try to post those picture tomorrow!

Sera has been home for 11 months and we have seen doctor after doctor.  FINALLY, we have had some success!!!!!!!!!  First, I have found a team of doctors that I LOVE at Cincinnati Children's Hospital.  We have Sera scheduled to have surgery on her hands and feet in March at Shriner's Hospital.  Lastly,  we have a syndrome diagnosis. 

Sera has been diagnosed with Bardet-Biedl Syndrome.  Bardet-Biedl is a rare genetic disorder which affects multiple systems. 

Bardet-Biedl syndrome is a disorder that affects many parts of the body. The signs and symptoms of this condition vary among affected individuals, even among members of the same family.
Vision loss is one of the major features of Bardet-Biedl syndrome. Loss of vision occurs as the light-sensing tissue at the back of the eye (the retina) gradually deteriorates. Problems with night vision become apparent by mid-childhood, followed by blind spots that develop in the side (peripheral) vision. Over time, these blind spots enlarge and merge to produce tunnel vision. Most people with Bardet-Biedl syndrome also develop blurred central vision (poor visual acuity) and become legally blind by adolescence or early adulthood.
Obesity is another characteristic feature of Bardet-Biedl syndrome. Abnormal weight gain typically begins in early childhood and continues to be an issue throughout life. Complications of obesity can include type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), and abnormally high cholesterol levels (hypercholesterolemia).
Other major signs and symptoms of Bardet-Biedl syndrome include the presence of extra fingers and/or toes (polydactyly), intellectual disability or learning problems, and abnormalities of the genitalia. Most affected males produce reduced amounts of sex hormones (hypogonadism), and they are usually unable to father biological children (infertile). Many people with Bardet-Biedl syndrome also have kidney abnormalities, which can be serious or life-threatening.
Additional features of Bardet-Biedl syndrome can include impaired speech, delayed development of motor skills such as standing and walking, behavioral problems such as emotional immaturity and inappropriate outbursts, and clumsiness or poor coordination. Distinctive facial features, dental abnormalities, unusually short or fused fingers and/or toes, and a partial or complete loss of the sense of smell (anosmia) have also been reported in some people with Bardet-Biedl syndrome. Additionally, this condition can affect the heart, liver, and digestive system.  Taken from Genetic Home Reference
As you can imagine we still have a lot to investigate.  Sera will be having tests done on her eyes to check her retina's more closely.  She has already lost some of her field of vision.  She basically only has her central field of vision and we are not sure how good that is.   We were told to expect total vision loss at some point.  We will need to check her kidney and liver function.  We already now that she has one cyst on her kidney.  We will need to monitor that to see if she begins to produce more cysts.  Her weight has become a huge issue already.  She is screaming when we do not give her more food.  Although we have already began to limit her food intake she still continues to gain weight.  I am now working with a nutritionist and I am going to start measuring her calorie intake.  Sera is also having issues with her endocrine system.  She is already taking some medications and we will need to add a few more to regulate her system.  We were also told to expect mild to moderate cognitive disabilities.   Of course, we serve a BIG GOD and only HE knows her abilities. 

We are pleased to finally have a diagnosis so we can create a plan of action.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Large Family Meal Preparation (HELP!!!!)

If you are hoping for advice you came to the wrong place.  We became a large family rather quickly.  In 5 years we have gone from 1 child to 7 children and  now soon to be 8 children.  Our kitchen did not grow with us, although it is a nice kitchen and I am grateful to have it.  Below are pictures of our kitchen.

We are a very tidy and organized family, which has been a blessing.  There is just not much usable counter space.  I can't imagine trying to work in this kitchen if the counters were covered with junk.  I have to keep ALL(except a coffee pot and electric skillet)of my small appliance in a cabinet.  There is just NO counter space.  I use the coffee pot and electric skillet daily!!  We have a very small closet/pantry.  I would love to do more cooking from scratch but I just don't have a place to store items or counter space for preparation.  Reorganize the kitchen?  Any suggestions?

So here is my question to you.  How do you do meal preparation??  I am already having to double recipes.  Even though our children are small they are consuming a good amount of food.   What do you use to prepare meals in?  Do you have industrial size appliances?  Crock pot?  Electric skillet?   We tend to purchase inexpensive small appliances and they just don't seem to be holding up well with all the use.  Any suggestions? 

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Three years ago today we met Faith Fu Xiang Maas.  We love you Faith Fu and are so blessed that God allowed you to join our family.

Faith's Adoption Story

We mailed our dossier to China in February 2006. At that time, the estimated wait to be matched with a child was between six and nine months. One day in March 2006 I was standing in the kitchen, I think I was fixing lunch. I got cold chills and God said, “Your daughter was born today”. Well, I thought that was really cool and starting counting the days of how old she would be when we got our referral. As the wait got longer and longer I began to think that day in March was just wishful thinking. If she was born on that day she would be two or older before we finally got her and we had specifically requested a child younger than nine months of age. OK, skip forward to September 2007. We had decided several months ago that we felt God leading us to apply for a child with a special medical need. We had already applied for two children but were not matched with them. Of course we were very discouraged because we really felt we were following God’s lead. A new list of waiting children was released on September 11, 2007. I immediately scanned the list and found two children that fit into our age range and the type of medical need we were approved for. I printed their information out to review it with Darren but I still wasn’t content. I kept going back and looking at the picture of “Angela”. She was much older than what were had originally said we would adopt, but she kept tugging at my heart. I had to print her papers out. We did apply for three girls, including “Angela”. I couldn’t sleep at night without dreaming about her. Finally, on October 4, 2007 we got THE CALL from our adoption agency. We had been matched with “Angela”. I just fell to my knees and cried like a baby. At the time I did not make the connection back to that day in March 2006. A few days later we were on our way home from church and suddenly it all clicked. “Angela” was born on March 20, 2006. She was the little girl God told me was born in China that day in March 2006. WOW!!! I am humbled beyond words. We have given her the name Faith Xing Fu Xiang Maas.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Three Years Ago . . .

Three years ago today we arrived in China to meet our daughter Faith.  You can go back and read about our adoption journey here and our travel log here.  Faith was our first adopted child and the trip to China changed our lives forever. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Did you see Extreme Home Makeover last night?

I am sure I have mentioned that we LOVE the show Extreme Home Makeover.  We love it for many reasons.  As parents of multiple children with disabilities we are always inspired by the families featured on the show.  Some episodes hit a little closer to home than others.  Last nights episode featured a family in which both parents were blind.  If you missed it you can watch the episode here.

Our daughter Sera, is visually impaired.  At this point we are still not sure what she is seeing.  She is considered to be legally blind but we believe she has some type of vision.  It is amazing at 2 years old how well she has learned to compensate for her lack of vision.  Before she got her glasses she could not see anything beyond 5 inches from her face.  Like I said, we are not sure what she is seeing now she has glasses and what her brain is processing.  We do know that she has no depth perception and no peripheral vision.  She is SOOOO good at compensating you may not even notice her using her hands to guide herself.  Here is a video of Sera playing with a toy with both of her eyes patched so that we KNOW she cannot see anything.

Although Sera is learning to use her "stick" when she is outside of the home and we are beginning to talk about her learning braille, I still have a hard time seeing her with a visual disability.  She is just Sera!  It was really good for me to see the Anderson family and the obstacles they face daily.  That will be a reality for our daughter some day.  As she gets older her visual impairments will be more obvious.  After watching the show and then looking around our house I see we have a lot to work on.  We want to give Sera a home where she is safe and can grow and blossom into the beautiful girl the God created her to be. 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Let It Snow !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We don't get a lot of snow around here so when we get more than an 2 inches the kids go crazy.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010

HIV Reduce the Stigma

Saddleback Church has a whole ministry just for reducing the stigma of HIV and ministering to those who have been affected by HIV and AIDS. Below are links to some vidoes from the ministry.

What is HIV?

Reduce the Stigma
Want to know why I am so passionate about orphan care? Watch this video!!
I asked God to break my heart for what breaks His. Have you? Are you brave enough to take a step further and actually take action? Are you crazy in love enough to get out of your comfy lifestyle and follow Him to the weak, helpless, and hungry?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Twietmeyer Family on CBS Evening News talking about HIV

Just in case you did not see the thousands of messages I sent about my friend Carolyn being on CBS Evening News, I posted the video below.  They are champions fighting to break the stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS.


Saddleback Church is having a live event hosted by Rick & Kay Warren ALL DAY today.  I have been watching it for about 10 minutes and I am broken inside.  Please take time to watch this for a few minutes. 

World AIDS Day

I am hoping that the videos below peaked your interest in getting more TRUE information about HIV and AIDS.  If you have not seen the videos please watch them here and here.

I am not going to re-invent the wheel when I have wonderful friends who do a great job giving out the TRUE facts about HIV.   I am also not going to overwhelm you with information, so here are a few links that will just take a couple of minutes to look at.  Check back tomorrow for more links and personal stories. 

Project Hopeful HIV/AIDS Fact Sheet

Positively Adopted

AIDS & Me: Hydeia Broadbents Story

My friend Carolyn, Orphan Advocate and founder of Project Hopeful will be on The American Spirit segment of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric TONIGHT!!!!   Tune in for more TRUTH about HIV.