Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Year of the Ox

Last night, we celebrated Chinese New Year with our local Families with Children from China chapter. However, we've recently tweaked the name to Families with Children from Asia since we now have some families who have adopted from Korea and Taiwan. I'm not sure of the final head count, but there were close to 150 people in attendance! It is always wonderful to see so many families formed through adoption together at the same time. There was also a baby shower for the Hammond family who will be traveling to China very soon to bring home their son, Reed.

The kids always like to try their hand at eating with chopsticks.

No chicken fried rice for you tonight, Ellen!

Forever sisters!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Another busy week

We've had OT/ST, an ENT appointment, a trip to the optician, a school play, and a field trip, along with the day-to-day stuff (which is enough to overwhelm me anyway). In the national news this week, a lady in California gave birth to (relatively) healthy octuplets. If that's not enough, I learned today that she also has 6 children age 7 and under! Can you imagine????

The entire kindergarten at Rebecca's school put on the cutest program yesterday, entitled "Let It Snow." We couldn't get a good photo of the stage from where we were sitting with our mediocre camera, but here are a couple taken after the big show.

This is Rebecca's kindergarten class. There are 3 other classes, so there were roughly 75 kindergarteners on stage singing. They all did so well!

And, speaking of the white stuff, SNOW is finally in the forecast for next week! Wouldn't it be great for the children to see their first big snowfall?

Today, the boys' preschool class took a field trip to Jump Zone. They had been so excited all week; Henry even started squealing in delight as we were driving up to the building this morning.

Of course, Miss Vivian joined us.

William and his friend, Van.

One of Henry's last slides of the day.

Ellen had a blast as well.

And, tonight...our Chinese New Year party!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Just a few pictures

Good help is hard to find these days!

I love hats and earrings!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The new normal

I hope next week runs a little more smoothly than this week has! Whew, I'm so glad it's over! Sunday proved to be an emotional day for me--I was 6 weeks postpartum--you figure it out! Monday was a holiday, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday. Forget about reflecting on history and the meaning of such a special day when you have five kids to care for and there's no school! Tuesday was another day that will go down in our nation's history, the inauguration of America's first African American president. But did I get to watch any of the news coverage? Of course not! Imagination Movers and Caillou demanded our full attention. Plus, William came down with an ear infection and felt lousy.
Wednesday was loaded with fun. William was still sick so he couldn't go to preschool that day. He had to stay with PawPaw and I felt so guilty that I couldn't stay home and take care of my boy. After dropping Henry and Vivian off at preschool, Ellen and I went to pick up Rebecca at school to take her to therapy in Huntsville. After therapy, we ate McDonald's from the drive-thru, and I went and checked her back in school. Ellen and I then ran through the grocery store and grabbed a few things, finishing just in time to pick up Henry and Vivian. We stopped by home so I could put some items in the fridge, and then went out to pick up William. We made it back in time to pick up Rebecca again from school. I think I even managed to make spaghetti for dinner! (Can you say "Super-Mom?" HA)
Even though we didn't get out that much on Thursday, the time at home was rough. We ALL were having a bad day! I decided to make lunch "easy," so I popped some chicken nuggets in the oven. Well, guess, what! My oven burned out! (Forget the fact that it is 30+ years old.) An added bonus was that Ellen had a blow-out in the car seat after we got home from picking Rebecca up at school. Taking the cover off of a car seat to wash it always makes for a good time.
Friday finally came! Not that bad of a day, but I was exhausted!
And dear mother came and got the kids so Billy and I could go and ponder what to do about the oven. We ended up being more confused than we started so we bought a toilet instead! (We have three that need replacing.) Billy thought that he could install it, but it ended up taking 7 hours and 4 trips to Lowe's. But the best part is the unexpected "shower" he received when he overtightened the shut-off valve and about flooded the entire 2nd story! I had to run outside to turn off the main water valve while he tried to hold back the flood with his thumb. At least he was laughing when he came downstairs soaked head to toe! All I could think about was all the laundry he was creating. I had just finished folding and putting away five loads.

Sorry there are no pictures! Who has time to take pictures???

Friday, January 23, 2009

Yes, Henry, it's something like that...

Tonight, Billy was reading to the children the story of Abraham. He read to them about Abraham packing up his family and moving them far away because God told him to. He talked about how Abraham heard God and obeyed Him. Henry replied, "But I can't hear God talking." Billy tried to explain that God doesn't speak to us like He did to Abraham, but we can read about what God wants us to do in the Bible. Henry: "But I can't read!" O.K., O.K., on to the next part. Billy then read about God's promise to Abraham that his offspring would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. Henry's observation: "Whoa, they couldn't even fit in our minivan! I guess he needed a limousine!"

Saturday, January 17, 2009

And there are many more just like her...

It's looking like Rebecca has "skipped" one of her episodes. (Thank you, God!) We're still trying to figure out the pattern. In retrospect from what rambling nonsense the orphanage told us, she likely had been having these for quite a while before her adoption. She had her first one with us after six months, then three in a row about 6 weeks apart, then none for three months, then three in a row, and here we are now waiting on the next.
I have been making sure that she gets plenty of rest because I was anticipating her to get sick. I think it paid off because her transition back to school after the Christmas break was pretty smooth. She had been having a hard time getting back in the swing of things after a break from school. In the beginning of the year, this could just be from the weekend!
Although Rebecca has made HUGE strides since the beginning of school, she still has so many struggles. There is so much more to it than just "catching up." How can a child be subjected to the worst neglect imaginable for the first 6 1/2 years of her life and not be profoundly affected in her development? There are just parts of her brain that have never been stimulated when they were supposed to be stimulated and therefore she has lots of sensory processing problems, among others. I took her this week for further evaluation for occupational and speech therapy. She's getting both of these at school, but in a totally different focus. I was very impressed by the OT. I learned so much about Rebecca's deficits in her development in such a short time. For instance, Rebecca's scapulae are very widely spaced and have an almost a winged appearance. (I really just thought this was the way she was built.) The OT explained that it was her little body's way of stabilizing itself because she was never given the chance to strengthen the muscles of her trunk when she was an infant. The babies in the orphanage lie on their backs for at least the first year of their lives. In Rebecca's orphanage, this was on a wooden board in a metal crib (no mattress, blankets, or pillow). Most of the babies can't even sit up until they are at least a year old. At first my instinct was just to soak up as much information as possible and take it and use the strategies that the OT has given me to take Rebecca back through all of these stages, and I still want to do that, but my anger has set in...
Anger! Anger at a country and government that would allow such neglect on such a large scale. Anger at the orphanage for not giving my daughter better care. There are so many "stories" out there, almost romanticized, about how much the babies are cared for by their ayis (nannies) and that the ayis cry for them when they are adopted. What a crock! If anyone had cared the least bit, why didn't someone pick her up and rock her? Why did she just lie there in that cold crib? She has every physical manifestation that this is exactly what was done to her, and not just as a baby but her entire existence there! She walked like a toddler when we got her and could not maneuver stairs, despite the fact that the room where she slept was on the 2nd floor and there was a so-called "activities" room on the 1st floor! And then there are all of her scars--what happened to her??
And then there is the profound sadness that I feel. I now have this beautiful newborn baby girl who I am able to give all the things to that I could not give to Rebecca. I just hope and pray that I can somehow get all the gaps filled in for her.

Baby pictures!

Ellen will be 6 weeks old on Monday! We changed her formula again and this one seems to be helping! We've been getting some major smiles since about 4 weeks. Just makes your heart melt!

Friday, January 9, 2009

TEN pounds!

Ellen had her one month check-up today. She gained a whopping 3 pounds in just 4 weeks, so even though she has tummy troubles, it's not holding her back (takes after her mommy?)! The doc put her on one of the elemental (aka EXPENSIVE) formulas. We'll see after a few days...

Thanks for the advice, Becky B. I want to say that both the boys were worse than Ellen is, because I remember Billy even going out in the middle of the night to take them for a ride in the van. (That was one of the few things that would put them to sleep!) We haven't had to resort to that yet--she just likes to be held constantly. Billy is also a pro at swaddling babies! Ellen looks like a little burrito when he's done.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Growing too fast

Ellen will be one month old tomorrow (my, how time passes so quickly!). She is becoming more like her brothers every day--COLICKY! She's currently screaming her head off right now as I type. Billy has taken over the rocking for a little while so I can rest my ears! We go back to the pediatrician on Friday, but I know full well what he will say, "She'll grow out of it in a couple of months!" Yes, but will she have a sane mother by then??!!

Here is the little troublemaker! We took the kids to the movies on Saturday. Ellen did very well during the matinee. It would have been a different story had it been an evening movie!

"I love my baby sister!"