Thursday, December 10, 2009

John and Mary in China!

John and Mary are in China to adopt again.  Today we finalized the adoption of Gideon Zhang Lushi Kamberger, who will turn 14 on Saturday.  Tomorrow, we will travel to Langfang to once again meet lovely Christina Du Jie Kamberger.  Later next week, we will finalize her adoption in her home province of Jiangxi.  You can follow our journey and see pics at

Monday, November 30, 2009

Hannah Lynn pics


Jeriah and Shawna are the proud parents of a new baby girl, Hannah Lynn Shank who was born this morning at Iowa Lutheran Hospital in Des Moines. She was 19" in length and weighed in at 8 lbs 9 oz. Mary and I are about to head down to Des Moines and we hope to post some pics soon.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Harvest party 2009

Well the kids had a fun time on Wednesday evening. Juliana commented, "why do all the adults have to stay upstairs and pray?" Cuz that's what happens when you grow up! Juls chose to be Queen Esther AGAIN - merely because it means you can dress up pretty and have makeup on! Sarabeth got an idea from a friend at church who said, "you would be so cool as an egyptian with your long, dark hair" - little did I know the original idea came from Grace who was going to be Moses mother/Pharoah's daughter. So instead of being her, Grace got to make up Sarabeth and we all added something to her costume ... she looked very Egyptianey! Nathan and Jeremy just waited till they got to church and pulled out a cloak from the costume boxes - Nate was Luke and Jeremy was John.

Juls also just got some glasses!! She has always been nose-glued to the computer and complained recently that she couldn't see a picture in the book I was holding up across the table from her. Turns out she has the worse eyes of anyone in the house! The whole world has changed for her - but she doesn't like them on her nose - they "tickle me" she says.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

First snow Oct 12!

We have lived here in Iowa for almost 14 years - NEVER has snow showed up so soon. It was a very cool summer, then a nice month or so of fall - and the cold weather hit way too early. It was a Monday morning, but I let the 4 littles go "play" awhile thinking it would all be gone very soon. HA! It snowed nearly all day!


The kids love playing UNO. Nathan has finally found out that the game itself is actually fun and he doesn't HAVE to win to enjoy himself. This has increased our pleasure in the game, too - no crying, whining children at the table anymore. Even Caitlin, when she got stuck between the younger sweet sisters, Sarabeth and Juliana .... who morfed into the deadly Draw 2/Draw 4 duo and pounded poor Cait - she just kept on smiling! And Juls just giggled and sighed when she forgot to say, "Uno" and got stuck with 4 extra cards .... actually after what she did to Caitlin, we were glad to quickly yell uno and stick her with her extra cards!

Game night is always fun - and always too short for the littles.

Jeremy's new arm/hand

We went to Shriners Oct 7/8 and Jeremy rec'd his first prosthetic. We did not expect an actual hand, but rather a type of utility tool to aid him in some life skills. So in some ways we were excited to see this neat little hand, but questioned if it was going to actually help him the ways we had hoped.

Jeremy was very thrilled to actually pick things up and pinch them for the first time with only one extremity. If he was sitting still waiting for the next thing to do, or while we were playing cards, you would catch him using the right hand to squeeze his left "blobby/appendage". This is something he could never do before - kind of like twiddling your thumbs, he will squeeze, release, squeeze, release. He astounded the Occupational Therapist with how quickly he learned to use the hand. The OT said it usually takes the entire first session (at least) for the child to learn what Jeremy learned coming up the stairs from the prosthetic room to the therapy room. He could pick up nearly anything she placed before him. She quickly shifted to teaching him how much pressure to squeeze with by placing various spongy blocks, balls on the table - then asked him to pick this one up without squishing it or pick this other one up and squish it completely. She would hold her hand, palm side up about 1-2 feet above the table and tell him to place it in her hand while maintaining the requested pressure. He accomplished each feat correctly the first time with every request. You will see in the video how he uses his left arm to pull on the cord to close the fingers - and the arm points out like a child with her tongue out to the side while carefully coloring! The OT and I caught this at the same time and just laughed.

I did ask him to give my nose a squeeze - BIG mistake!!! OUCH!! The hand is "at rest" in the open position so he must think and keep the tension to keep it closed. The "hands" that are at rest in the closed position and must be consciously opened are typically hooks - the therapist said children don't take as well to them due to how they look. It would be much easier for him to open on demand, close onto a toy (light saber, bat) and then be free to do what he wants with it - not having to maintain muscle control from the left to keep his right "hand" closed.

The OT said he needs an elbow joint to straighten or bend to do more things, but this is the first step in getting started with prosthetics. As well as he did with each task, the hand does not, unfortunately, help him with much of anything day to day. It does NOT help him eat, write, color or toilet. He can not pull down or pull up his pants while he has the hand on. So, he does not use it day to day. He will put it on and do some tasks as we ask him, but then it comes off. This is fine - the folks at Shriners know that he will likely do most things with his natural arms and only use a prosthetic for certain tasks. We have not found too many everyday tasks that the hand actually helps him do better yet. He had adapted so well previously. I do believe a longer prosthetic with a jointed elbow would help him more, but we don't return to Shriners until February. The waiting game. So we will continue to have him practice with what he has and master what he can. Then we will go to the next step next year.

Below you will see what Jeremy did right off the bat with the therapist. What a quick learner!!

Whatcha think, Charis???



Thursday, October 1, 2009

Vera Bradley purses

A chance to win a Vera Bradley bag AND help us bring Christina home!!

A dear friend of mine from the adoption world is doing a fundraiser to help us bring Christina home. She is raffling off 15 Vera Bradley purses. For a chance to win AND help us bring Christina home go to .

PLUS I received several new pictures of Christina today!! That's always great to see!
If you are not interested in purses and still would like to help us bring Christina home, go to our blog for her and give alittle to help alot with our Chip-in!
Mary : )

Friday, August 28, 2009

Adoption of Christina

It is with great JOY
we announce that we have
Pre-Approval (PA) from the
China officials to
pursue the adoption of
DuJie .... Christina
who lives atShepherd's Field Langfang Village!

It is a long God story in how we went from deferring to another family for the adoption of Gregg to pursuing the adoption of Christina who we have been sponsoring .... and John has been smitten with .... since last year. We met Christina in February 2008 while visiting The Village prior to adopting Jeremy - same time we met Gregg. Go to Christina's adoption blog link (on sidebar) to read the story behind this announcement. We are so happy to know that it is a pleasing thing to God to have this child placed into our family.Christina will be 10 on November 11th - our oldest child from China, but will always be our smallest .... her special need is that she has a form of dwarfism and presently stands at 38 inches tall and wears 3-4T clothes. I simply can't wait to send her a new outfit and the family photo album I have already put together for her - to let her know that SHE finally, after so very many years, now has a family of her own!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Spring 2009 Photo Gallery

An Easter morning photo of the kids: Grace (15) Caitlin (16)
Nathan (5), Jeremy (8), Sarabeth (9) and Juliana (5)

Mary and Juls coloring eggs

Grace, before she cut her hair

Nathan is a budding artist

Caitlin getting all the dye ready

Our spring project... all the living room carpet is out, awaiting the new carpet's installation

A thorough cleaning and getting the walls ready for paint

The walls aren't white anymore!

Tan paint goes onto the hallway walls

The offending light fixture, which overheated and caused an attic fire!

The Clear Lake fire department was out in force

Firefighters begin the cleanup

And what a mess it was!

We spent HOURS cleaning up the mess

Mary reads the birthday card Juliana made for her

Another homemade birthday card.... Happy 50th Momma!

Jeremy the swordsman in action!

Happy 9th birthday Jeremy

Wow. Jeremy cleaned up on his birthday!

Trying out his birthday basketball

Jeremy gets ready to help dad grill his birthday dinner

Caitlin, on her 17th BD!

Not as many presents as Jeremy got. Welcome to adulthood Cait!

But.... the adult type presents can be pretty sweet :-)

This is a Washburn guitar. It has a very rich sound. Needless to say, Caitlin was pleased!

Playing a song for her Dad.