It's that time of year again. Time for school to re-open and time for the fall schedule to start getting very busy. We took Chels back to college on Thursday night. It is always hard to send her off...we miss her so much. But, it was a good chance for me to see how much she has grown and matured this past year...and she really has. She has gained a lot more confidence and is much more sure of herself than she was a year ago at this time. She worked 2 jobs over the summer and is really growing into a beautiful and responsible young lady. Teens have lots of choices to make when they are going through their teen years and we are glad that Chels has made lots of good choices....we are very proud of her!
The sitter helped the girls make cards for Sissy's going away. I loved this one that Ella made, so I framed it for Chels! Notice the(hand drawn) picture of Ella and Sissy....Ella ALWAYS makes sure that she uses that black crayon for her and Sophie's hair and uses the brown crayon for the rest of our hair color. : )
Ella helped her Ba Ba put together the futon for the dorm room
This picture is so Ella. She is very inquisitive about everything!! A very smart little cookie!
These 3 gals have been best friends since they were in Pre-school!! I am so happy they still are close even though they do not go to college near one another!!
Over the week-end we met our friends for a play date at Build a Bear!
Ella loves her "Sara Panda" and has not put the bear down since we came home!! She does not like baby dolls...but loves her stuffed animals. I think I will go and get a few outfits for Sara Panda since she plays with it so much!
**Sophie's eye surgery was this morning and it went well!! She is resting now....no side effects from the anesthesia or anything. Thanks to those who e-mailed me to check and see how she is doing.....I am behind in getting back to everyone.
p.s. I did not blog about her surgery ahead of time....I had meant to and just did not get the chance.
Be Blessed, my friends!!!
Monday, August 31, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
That cute little guy above is Karl who is living in the Starfish Foster Home. We became one of his sponsors several months ago when he and many other cleft babies were brought to Amanda. If you remember, Ella chose Karl to help sponsor because she loved his pink blanket! : )
I was so happy to see this recent picture of Karl. You can tell he is growing in love under the dedication of Amanda and many volunteers. You can read more about the Starfish Foster Home here.
We love you, Karl!!
When we got home today, there was a wonderful surprise in our mailbox! We had recently seen a picture of the beautiful Lily Mei wearing her adorable fuzzy flip flops and I knew Ella would like a pair of these as she is ALL about flip flops these days. Well, the Princess's Mommy(private blog) surprised us all when she sent us our very own fuzzy flip flops!! Monica...you are the best and I can't thank-you enough for brightening our day. We are wearing our fuzzy flip flops right now and love them. Thank-you for being such a special and loving friend!!!
Happy week-end to you all!!!!
Thursday, August 13, 2009
com·mit (kə mit′)to give in charge or trust, to bind as by a promise; pledge; engage committed to the struggle
2 weeks ago marked our 2 year Forever Family Day with Sophia. I am long overdue with an update on our private blog, so thought I would share this post with everyone in celebration of her Family Day Anniversary.
Most of you who have followed our blog, know about the long road of healing that our family has gone down with Sophie. She was adopted at the age of 2 1/2 after spending those 2 1/2 years in an orphanage with questionable goings on. I have been told over and over by people, "I don't know how you do it". Or, "I could never deal with what you are dealing with". My answer is usually, "I don't know how I do it, either." or "I don't do it with as much grace as I would like to".
I think the real answer though, as to how we have handled her(our) long road, would be COMMITTMENT. One of my favorite Christian speakers says, don't get caught up in feelings...they are temporary. Get committed!
I do not want to touch on the subject of disruption, because I have friends that have chosen that path and I do not want them or anyone to think I am being judgemental...because that is not my place. I do not judge anyone's decision. It is just that...theirs. And trust me when I say, even though it was not our decision, I understand.
But if I had one wish for every parent getting ready to adopt internationally or domestically, for that matter, it would be for them to committ. Leave the ladybug blankets and hairbows home and go over committed. As I look back over the past 2 years, I know that my heart was committed, but I wish it had been more committed beforehand! Less excited and less anticipation....more committment. The last few years might have been less stressful.
In that hotel room in Guangzhou, where I knew there was a problem, where I saw a child who appeared quite autistic and fear and doubt came creeping in, it was my husband who spoke the wise words. "It is just going to take time". My husband, the one who knew little about the adoption process or orphanage delays or institutional autism or any of the things us Moms study beforehand. My husband, the one who was not sure he wanted to add to our family. It. Was. Him. He had already committed....thankfully!
I remember crying in the hotel bathroom and asking God to give me a sign that things would be okay and to show me there was some kind of light on inside her sweet little head. But God, I have 3 other kids. But God. But God. As she was not able to stand without falling over easily at the age of 2 1/2. As we cleaned up the diarreah that came every 5 minutes all through each and every day and night. As she rocked and rocked. As she shook and tremored non stop. As she watched/studied her fingers when lying on her back to self soothe. As she sucked on any kind of clothe she could get a hold of...non stop. As she raged when I tried to hold her close. As she was so caught up in her self soothing behaviors that she did not seem to register what was going on. As she tried to smile, but instead just opened her mouth very wide. As she cringed and screamed when we had to touch her skin. When we could see no light on in those eyes. BUT GOD!
He sent me. It was His plan. Who was I to question....no matter what I was feeling.
So, we marched on in what has been a very long march.
2 years later. Are things better. You bet! Are they perfect...no. One of Sophie's therapists told me that Sophie will be normal, but she will be her own normal. What a great way to put it, huh? Really, who are we to say what is the correct normal. I often find in life that those that are born with a mental challenge...have the biggest hearts around. So, who are we to gauge "normal". Right?
Sophie, is in many ways, still in her own world. When we are out in public, she will start dancing around...and I mean dancing, while singing and carrying on. She will drop to the floor when she feels like it amongst a big crowd. Things that most 4 1/2 year olds would not do, because by that age they are concerned by what others around are thinking about them.
Last week while we were on vacation and in a crowded restaurant, Sophie began her waltzing around and singing, like she was in some kind of performance. Ryan, who gets embarassed when she does things like that, asks me what is wrong with her...why does she do this. I told him that us adults really are influenced so much by others opinions and that Sophie is not inhibited by the presence or opinions of others...and how this was, in all reality, a good thing. Again, who is to say what normal is. Of course, he does not agree with me. lol!
Tuning out people in large crowds is a coping mechanism for her as is tuning out strangers. But if that is what she needs to do for now, that is what she needs to do. At least she is now receptive to people she is familiar with. Baby steps.
Another 6 months will bring us to the point of Sophie being home with us as long as she was in an institution...hopefully, we will see even more growth in those 6 months and lots more after that milestone!
Sophie was given a diagnosis in the autism spectrum along with RAD, which I do not often share as I do not want to box her into a diagnosis or label, I often said she was like an autistic child, but I knew she was not born this way. Her therapist pointed out to me that we needed to meet her where she was at this point, no matter what the reason she was there(dx wise) and help her climb out of where she was. Great point! The dx has allowed us to get her more of the help she needs. Do I expect her to grow out of the DX...you bet!
We did decide to try a medication to help with the constant raging and it has helped with absolutely no side effects. We are very thankful for that! The rage/anger is still there, but not as often and not quite as intense.
It is just going to take a while.
I truly feel that Sophie will go far in life. She has the determination of something I have never seen before. She knows much more than Dave and I combined(that was for my RAD parents). And she is more self confident than any child I have ever met. She does not believe there is anything she can not do. And there is no question she is extremely smart...just quirky. She will learn in a way different than most kids, but she will learn!
Quick story about her dance class this past year. From Sept. to Dec. she was a MESS in the class. Had no clue about trying to do what the rest of the class was doing. Was falling over constantly while just standing on her x. Wobbled all over just trying to get into 1st. position. Could NOT get any steps the teacher tried teaching her. A. Mess.
In Dec., it was time to order recital costumes. I asked the teacher to let me know if she would make it, cause I did not want to pay for her costumes if she was going to be kicked out. The teacher told me that Sophie was obedient, as in not running all over the classroom....so she could stay, BUT she will most likely not know "get"the dance come recital time. Okay...good enough for me.
Come January, I would start hearing Sophie at home, reciting(verbally) the dance moves. "Step right, march, march, march, etc." Over and over and OVER. Well, guess what.....she got it and she got it perfectly! Who would have guessed!
Fast forward to the stage rehearsal in June. I told her if she falls while on stage, that she is to get right back up and keep dancing, so no one steps on her. Sophie falls. ALOT. So, I tried to prepare her for the inevitable. Would you know, their class is on stage and Sophie falls fast and HARD...slipping/flying in her tap shoes. BOOM!!! She flew right back up to her feet like no other child like would be able to do. Flew back up faster than a Weeble! I think the dance studio owner was shocked and praised her at the end. What makes Sophie able to do this, something most kids her age would not. 1. her not realizing embarassment. 2. her task oriented personality. I told her what to do, if something should happen and she was on a mission. 3. her familiarity with constant falling and not registering pain the same way others do. SOPHIE'S normal.
I will write another post about the RAD stuff soon. This is getting too long. : ) If you know anyone waiting for a referral or getting ready to travel, please feel free to share this post with them. It is written, in part, to help others and to educate a bit. I do not feel the agencies are doing enough of this. I will put some below and after pics for you to see.
It may take a while...may take a long while, BUT the love and structure of a family can go a long way in healing!!!!
And as much as love and family go along way...thanks to those of you who have held Sophie's healings in your prayers!!!! We could not have traveled this road without the love and prayer from you guys!!!
Thursday, August 6, 2009
We went to Ocean City(NJ) for four days. We have gone down there almost every year for the last 21 years...since before the kids were born. Usually stay for a half week instead of a full week...we love it down there, but find that a half week of the beach and sand with little ones...is plenty long enough. For those who are not familiar with this area....it is a a great family vacation area and we always enjoy our time down there. I had to work hard this year to find a date that the big kids could go down with us.
The little ones really had a blast with the ocean!! We had to keep a close eye on Fearless Frannie(Sophie) as she thought she was capable of riding the waves...all 30 pounds of her!
Ella has her first bikini and she insisted on wearing it so that she could be "just like Sissy"!
Ella's favorite thing to do was dig in the sand with this large shovel...she spent hours doing that.
Of course, I took tons of pictures...as always. I am not sure how you Mamarazzi's do it....my kids do NOT like my camera or appreciate my love of taking pictures. Ryan acts like I am torturing him and the little ones have no patience for picture taking. My Chelsea is the only one that goes along with my photo taking....thanks, Chels! : ) As for my other 3...you will appreciate having the pictures when you get older. hee hee!
I am making an effort to hand the camera off and get in the pictures with the kids. If anyone knows me...they know I do not, not, not like having my picture taken(especially with beach hair!). What we do for our kids, right? : )
As always....thanks for letting me share so many pictures....I have a hard time picking my favorites, so I share a lot.