Iced In (Theoretically)

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All the kids’ therapy was cancelled today due to an ice storm hitting Missouri… although we haven’t seen any ice as of yet.  I know they were hit by the storm down south, but we woke up to sunny skies and the most threatening thing that’s happened are a bit of gloomy clouds.  I’m totally ok with it, however.  I’ve been so productive today!  Having a day off from therapy has been just what I needed to get my energy back apparently, and Jacob’s PT said she could add a couple days on to the end of the program, so we aren’t actually losing any of our really important therapies!

I feel like we have “started school again” about a million times this school year, but we are off of our Christmas break officially and starting slow with Bible memory work, reading and math.  The kids are responding really well to the added structure.  I’ve also got a load of laundry done today, did some paperwork and we have been doing our therapy homework with Jacob.  He took another step for me today!!! I was so excited.  Hopefully I can get one on video one of these days!

Hope has homework to do also, but she went back home with Daddy this weekend so I’m not in charge of that.  He went home early for fear of being iced in so far away from church.  So we miss him a lot, but hopefully without all of our distracting selves he is getting a lot done. :)

I am still feeling really positive about therapy.  I’m mostly excited about what we are doing with Jacob in physical therapy and I’m mostly excited about what Hope is doing in speech and occupational therapy.  Her therapists yesterday suggested some interesting approaches to therapy with her, and we are going to try those out next week (stay tuned!!).

For Jacob, they ordered quad canes (with four points) for him to try and also single canes to try.  His tripod canes are just so big and bulky at the bottom that it’s hard to walk without him running into the base.  And an added bonus is, if we move to a smaller base it will be another step in the direction of independent walking – which is what we are shooting for!  We get to use them in therapy for a few days and decide if we want them before we buy them, which is super helpful.

And now I have a really grumpy baby… toddler… I know, I know.  But I’ll still call her the baby anyway, and she’s grumpy, so I’m going to sign off for the day.  Stay warm and safe everyone!

 

Therapy Therapy Therapy

Today I promised you I would talk more about the therapy program we are doing.  It’s pretty cool actually.  I have known about it for a long time, but we were just now able to get accepted into the program; we wanted to have Jacob and Hope do it at the same time (for which, the reason should become quite obvious as you read on), which meant they needed two open spots, which is even harder to get.

Fortunately for us they had just hired a new physical therapist and she had a totally open schedule, so they booked us right in!  The therapy program they have here is amazing.  They have great equipment and very experienced pediatric therapists who are used to the complexity of Jacob and Hope’s needs.  But because it’s a bit of a drive from us, it’s not been at all reasonable for us to do our weekly therapy here.  At the same time, the therapy close to us is not adequate in any way for the kinds of things our kiddos need.

The intensive program has been a godsend for us.  Jacob gets 2-3 hours of physical therapy every day and Hope gets one hour a day (she can’t tolerate quite as much).  Not only does this allow us to fit a lot of therapy into a shorter time frame but it also helps build new habits, because we are working on them daily.  Whereas before, in order for Jacob to progress I had to be working with him at home constantly.  That was not a good situation for our relationship or for the family in general.

In addition to physical therapy they are both also receiving speech therapy and occupational therapy while we are here.  So that totals to 2-3 hours of therapy for Hope each day and 3-5 hours of therapy for Jacob each day.  It has been so amazing.  This is only our third day and already Jacob has almost taken his first independent step, he jumped for the first time ever, he learned how to do buttons and we are tweaking all of his equipment and supports so he’s walking much better too.

Hope was tall kneeling earlier today, which was SO cool!  She also used an communication device to ask for more bubbles (she presses a button, the ipad says “more”).  She used it at least twice on purpose!  They are so happy with how visually attentive she is and are optimistic about her ability to learn to communicate her needs.  We really couldn’t be more thrilled with that.

While we are doing this marathon of a program we are staying at the Ronald McDonald House (which is just so amazing).  I had no idea how much their organization does for families!  We are being so well taken care of here, and I would definitely recommend to everyone to go donate or volunteer at their local Ronald McDonald House Charity.  They found us a room that actually accommodates our whole family.

My dear husband is staying with us, because it’s just impossible for me to juggle all five kids and the therapy schedule without him here.  He goes home some nights and days because there’s obviously work he can’t do here, but when he is here he stays up late getting his “office stuff” done and he wakes up around 4am to work some more.  I have no idea how he does it.  He is my hero for sure.  And I miss him because he went home last night for more work and he won’t be back until this afternoon.  Not that I can possibly complain with everything there is to be thankful for!

Volunteers come in and cook one hot meal every evening and sometimes brunches too on the weekends.  They also stock their pantry with cereal, oatmeal, bread, peanut butter, popcorn, snacks, drinks, etc.  And they have a fridge and freezer full of leftovers, so we can eat all three meals a day here.  They also have a full kitchen we are welcome to use and cook in whenever we need to, and our own little pantry and a fridge we can use.

They have two family rooms with TV’s, toys and games and they have a library room too!  They have a little playground outside, and a play area in the dining room as well.  The hospital has a shuttle we can use to get from therapy to the house and back when I don’t have a vehicle, which has saved us a couple of times, although it only fits one wheelchair so we do have to work around that.  The staff have all been so wonderful and I have no idea how we would be able to manage this month without the help of the RMH.  We are just so blessed to be here and so thankful that God has provided everything that we need.

The therapists have mentioned that, especially for Jacob, it seems like we came at exactly the right time in his development, just as he’s learning to stand independently.  And for Hope, she has just hit her emotional stride to be able to handle an intense therapy program like this.  The timing couldn’t be better for either of them, and our Lord had it all planned out so much more perfectly than I could have.

I won’t bore you with more updates today (my husband seems to think that my posts are too long, but I tell him that about his sermons so I guess we’re even… just kidding, love you sweetie!!) BUT I do have some pictures!!  Enjoy!  And if I can I will write a little more tomorrow. :)

 

Ball Pit

Kyrie joining Jacob in the ball pit during occupational therapy.

 

The kids checking out one of the family rooms at the RMH. Can you find all five? :P

The kids checking out one of the family rooms at the RMH. Can you find all five? :P

 

Jacob at physical therapy in the "cage" learning to jump for the first time!

Jacob at physical therapy in the “cage” learning to jump for the first time!

 

Practicing buttons at Occupational Therapy. It only took him a minute to do all three!

Practicing buttons at occupational therapy. It only took him a minute to do all three!

 

Hope tall kneeling at a table for physical therapy!! I can not believe how far she has come. <3

Hope tall kneeling at a table for physical therapy!! I can not believe how far she has come. <3

Love to all!!

EDIT:  I have no idea why all my pictures are turned the wrong way.  I fix them on my dashboard and they are correct in my editing box but then when I publish they’re all backwards again.  So… if anyone knows what my problem is let me know cause I have no clue. Haha

2nd EDIT:  FIXED!! Now they’re all backwards in my editing box and the right way on the post.  I feel like I’m going crazy, lol!

Peace and Joy

It’s been a long time.

If I do have any readers left, it’s probably only those of you who have subscribed and get a random email of my return.  It’s hard to come back after such a long time and post here, but my husband encouraged me to write, thinking there would be people who’d love to hear from us, so here I am.

As most of you know by now, I quit Facebook a while back, I don’t miss it at all, but when I reactivated my account to look for an old video the other week and saw all the things so many of my friends and acquaintances are going through, my heart just sank.  I’ve really been quite secluded from the rest of the world (living under a rock I think is what they call it).  And although I am able to be more present and focused for my little family, it is not without its sacrifices, and I do miss my friends and the adoption community.

So much has happened over the last year, and yet I don’t feel like much progress has been made until just recently.  It’s difficult to write when you have no good news to share, and although there has been ups and downs, the downs seem to swamp the ups and I am often left feeling like we are going ever backward and never forward.  I want to share our journey because I do think we have been incredibly blessed and I want to share our children with the world because they have changed people’s lives and that’s an amazing gift!

On the other hand, I promised that I would not sugar coat things and I’d be honest here.  And sometimes when hard becomes unbearable, there are just seasons that I would rather not share with the rest of the world.  Perhaps that’s selfish of me.  But there are many moments I’m not sure how to survive without being a little selfish.  So I do hope that the world and my dear readers and my cherished friends and loved ones will all forgive my lack of contact.  Whether it’s here or on social media or by email or phone, I have not really kept up my end of the relationship and for that I am sorry.  Especially since you all have been so faithful and kind to our family through everything.

And with that said, I’ll move on to what most of you really want to know.  How are we doing??

We are doing alright.  The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel seems to peek through much more often these days than it ever used to, and for that I am thankful.  I am still very much dealing with my Hashimoto’s diagnosis.  We don’t have it under control, and sometimes it seems that we get things stabilized and then we go downhill again.  Being crunchy I have done my due diligence with autoimmune protocols and elimination diets, but I cannot seem to get to that place where I am actually healthy.

The last two months have been very difficult.  I have gained quite a lot of weight, none of my clothes really fit anymore.  I’m dealing with intense episodes of depression and I’m having migraines that are far too frequent for it to be ok.  And those are just the tip of the ice burg when it comes to symptoms.  At this point I’m ok with not feeling well, I’m ok with being chronically ill.  I just want to be well enough to take care of my family, and after that I’m at peace with whatever comes.  Not yet at peace with my weight, but maybe in time I’ll learn to be more gentle with myself.

I would like to say that the kids are all doing marvelously, the end.  But we all know better than that.  The children are all doing very well, but there are some difficulties there too.  Hope finally seems to have settled after her last episode of medical trauma last year.  She had casts taken off her legs after surgery and it must have triggered some sort of flashback from years past, she literally sat up from the bed (which she had never done) and began punching the poor tech (also she had never done).  For weeks afterward she was a complete emotional wreck.  I couldn’t touch her for three days without her sobbing.  She would start having flash backs again and was totally terrified of any touch or movement.  It was totally heart wrenching.

But last month when we went in to clinic (a long day of specialists) she didn’t cry once!  We were all shocked that through all the prodding and moving and activity that she was remaining so calm.  Doctor’s offices had always been a trigger for her.  At first I thought it was a fluke, but it has held up and she is doing therapy once or twice a day with no tears!  I feel like she is finally starting to blossom.  We have the surgeries (hopefully) all behind us, and she is finally just had time to settle in without any new trauma.  I see so much potential in her and so much life coming back to her sweet self.  I’m absolutely thrilled for her and can’t wait to see how she continues to grow.

(Speaking of therapy, we are currently living at the Ronald McDonald House near the Children’s Hosptial.  Jacob and Hope are in an intensive therapy program, daily therapy for a month!  It’s an amazing program and we are super excited for it.  I’ll write more about that tomorrow if I can.)

Jacob has also made some great strides.  Some things (like academics) seem to be at a total standstill for him. But he is having some breakthroughs.  He just got a new orthotist who fitted him for braces, and she did such an amazing job that he can now stand independently!!  His record so far is nine and a half minutes without falling.  I cried in her office when he stood up for the first time without help; I had been making peace with the idea of it never happening and now we are working on taking independent steps and working toward walking without canes!  He has a long way to go, but we are finally in a good place to start working on some of his goals and figuring out how to best support him so that he can have the best life possible.

Evangeline is doing wonderfully in school, she taught herself how to read.  We’ve been doing little mini lessons on phonics for years, but not curriculum or anything structured.  And she finally put the puzzle pieces together and is reading on her own!  She also loves ballet and does quite well in it.  Her favorite thing to study is science.  She is fascinated with space, animals, earth science and meteorology and the human body – all of it!  And she is quite the artist too.  I’m excited to see where her gifts take her.

Stephen is still our sports guy.  He does gymnastics and t-ball and loves both.  He does some school too, but not too much at this age.  We do a little bit of math, Bible, memory work and reading.  He wants to be a doctor, baseball player, construction worker and a soldier when he grows up, so I’m not sure if he will end up pursuing all of those or narrow the list a bit. I guess we will see. 😉

We still call Kyrie the baby, but she really isn’t anymore.  The therapist called her a toddler today and it made me just a little sad.  I know she’s a toddler, but she’s still just a baby to me.  She loves all her older siblings and wants to do everything any of them do.  She is even developing their attitude so we are nipping that right away.  My biggest concern for Kyrie is her teeth.  They are quite bad and we haven’t seen a dentist who will really give us a direct answer to it yet.  Considering I was seriously hypothyroid with her pregnancy and didn’t know it, it’s not surprising that her teeth did not form correctly, but it is a frustrating problem and I wish I could just make it better.

There are lots of things to come to peace with.  And there are also many things to take joy in.

Peace and joy, those are my prayers for this year.

72 Hours After Facebook

Has it really been three days already?  I’ve hardly thought about Facebook at all today.  I had an eye appointment, the kids spent the afternoon playing in the pool while I did my favorite pastime (list making) and this evening was an early dinner and bedtime for the three worn out little ones.  I’m hoping to get some more cleaning and organizing done this evening since the day was so busy.

I am excited to keep blogging and fill in the details as I go.  I need to actually block some time off for this though, otherwise it will consume my mental narrative much like Facebook did, and it will be distracting.  I’ve noticed that my blog is already replacing some of that mental space I freed up in deleting Facebook, and I don’t want that to get out of hand or I’ll have to quit this too!  Moderation is key and I will be focusing quite intently on that as I start out.

I don’t want to try to do too much too fast.  But there are also so many things I’d like to say.  All in all I don’t think (at this point) I will ever return to having a personal Facebook profile.  It took much more than it gave, and in the end I don’t have room in my life for things like that.  I think it can be an amazing tool and I almost wish that I had found it later in life when I had a better idea of what I wanted out of my internet connections and resources.  But I am perfectly fine without it as it stands.

My dear husband has remarked to me several times today how happy I seem and how even when I do get grumpy I rebound much faster.  I’m not sure at this point if that’s just a correlation or really a direct result of my new-found freedom, but it’s certainly a great start to the journey!  I think I was expecting it to be much more difficult than this, but there is still plenty of time for me to hit some bumps in my post-Facebook road.  Perhaps the craving for that newsfeed will come back.  Stay tuned to find out I suppose!

First 48 Hours Post-Facebook

The first 48 hours without Facebook are officially over, and I am feeling great about it honestly.  I didn’t realize just how much of my mental energy was taken up by that one, virtual part of my life.  I am purging my house of a ton of clothes, toys, etc. right now and deactivating my Facebook account feels quite a lot like hauling fifteen boxes of junk out to the car and saying “So long!” It’s a breath of fresh air, a clean home, space to think and live.

My mind is free from surfing on Facebook, free from spending time on meaningless articles I found on Facebook, free from worrying about a dozen problems that aren’t even mine, free from wondering if I have new notifications, free from the drama of Facebook groups.  I’m free from all of it. And it is a totally liberating feeling.

Freedom is one word that encapsulates all of my why.  Why leave Facebook?  Freedom is why.  When I first started using Facebook it was in its infancy, before it was super cool and when you had to be in college to get an account.  I had a few friends and it was a neat concept, to be able to keep in touch with people who were far away or who might be far away a few years down the road.  Everything I posted felt “private” because most of us only had like ten friends on there anyway.

Over the years Facebook changed and Facebook habits changed along with it.  As more and more people joined and groups became connecting points, friends lists exploded.  People began sharing more than quick chats between each other and sharing other things they had found on the internet: pictures, videos, articles galore.  Advertisements came, Facebook started becoming connected to other sites, to your email and then your phone.

Before we knew it, Facebook wasn’t just a glorified virtual directory anymore – it was an institution.  It had become woven into the fabric of our very lives, intertwined with everything we did, everywhere we went, everyone we talked to.  Before I knew it, Facebook had become my main source for information on many topics.  And it was the main mode of communication I had with almost everyone outside of my immediate family unit.  Not to mention it was the catch-all for my cherished memories, pictures and videos.

I have considered dumping Facebook for years.  There are many reasons, but mostly I realized that Facebook was no longer a tool helping me – it had become the driving force in much of my daily life and routine.  But how could I leave?  Nothing could quite replace the diverse supports and services that Facebook was offering me.  And so it stayed.

But what I realized was that some things just mattered more.  When the authenticity of some of my online friendships started coming into question it became apparent that no matter what the credientials of the person or how long I had been connected to them – if I didn’t know someone in person I really didn’t know that person.  I had to figure this out more than once before it stuck.

651662177095I needed out of this virtual relationship building platform that was so unstable and unsafe.  I needed to get back to the real, incarnate, flesh and blood relationships God had given me.  (Yes I’m talking about those lovely people right there.)  I’m only two days into this change, but the healing is already beginning to happen.  For so long I said “I wish I could give up Facebook but…” And I have others saying that to me now.

My only advice is, you can. And if you wish you could but you don’t that means that Facebook is no longer a tool in your tool box, it is running the show.  And that in itself is a reason to (Elsa voices everyone!) let it go.  😉

My First Day Without Facebook

Five minutes without Facebook… I do believe my body went through some physiological reactions to deleting my account.  I felt my blood pressure elevate, a small amount of adrenaline, quick breathing.  I am ashamed to admit it really, but it was a little scary letting go of it.  I didn’t know what I was losing, but I felt like there was something.

I tried to look at my already loaded Facebook screen on my phone, it reloaded itself and showed me a screen asking me to log in instead.  It felt like a rejection of some kind, after all Facebook and I go back ten years now, as long as any friend I’ve ever kept.  And what was everyone doing?  I didn’t have people to check in on anymore or to comment on their posts or like what they said, how would they know what I thought?  And… what if someone else wanted to read my posts?  They can’t.  They’re gone now.  How strange.

I commented to Jake, “I think I’m just as lonely as I was before, but Facebook let me pretend I wasn’t.  Now I actually have to face up to that.”  He nodded.  Facing loneliness is a scary thing, escaping into social media world allowed me to immerse myself into hundreds of shallow relationships that never really allowed for truly fulfilling connections.  Perhaps now that it’s gone I can begin to build that with the few of you who are still here.  But I won’t lie.  It’s terrifying to me.

*****

Fifteen minutes… we go upstairs to bed.  I ask Jake if I can scroll through his Facebook newsfeed before I go to sleep.  He says no.  I (reluctantly) go to sleep.  I feel frustrated, but I suppose if that’s the worst I feel that’s a good sign.

*****

It has been about ten hours now and I am not really sure what to do with myself.  Usually I wake up and scroll through my Facebook feed for a few minutes while I work up the courage to face my day.  I do this before I even get out of bed!  But I have no Facebook today, so I said a prayer instead, laid there for a few minutes missing my routine, and got up.

I usually check Facebook again while the kids are eating their breakfast.  I haven’t been eating with them most mornings because of not taking my medication on time, (have to wait an hour before I eat) so I’ll just escape into Facebook while there are a few moments of quiet before the craziness starts again.  There’s none of that today, so here I am blogging instead.  I’m not sure if that constitutes progress or not.

*****

Fourteen hours post-Facebook.  It’s mid-morning and I have sat down a couple of times, picked up my phone to do something and then went to open my Facebook browser before remembering it wasn’t there.  I get a tinge of disappointment, and then get up to do something constructive instead of wasting twenty minutes on internet rabbit trails.  Getting more productive, this is good…

*****

Fifteen hours gone and I sat and nursed Kyrie.  I didn’t have anything else to do but just enjoy her.  It was really nice.  I realize how little eye contact we usually make while she’s nursing because I’m usually looking at a screen instead.  When Evie was a baby I focused on her so much more during our nursing sessions.  I need to do that more often; she is already getting so big.

*****

And at about sixteen hours…. HOPE JUST SAT UP ALL BY HERSELF!!! AHHH!!!  I want SO badly to post it all over the internet and I can’t!!!  I am so so so excited.  I put her toy at the end of her bed and when I turned around she was sitting up to reach it!!  I am stunned.  STUNNED.  This is a huge, amazing, wonderful milestone and Jake isn’t home and I have no one to share this with!! AHHH!!!!!

*****

Three hours later (we are at 19hrs now if you are still counting) I am still really wishing I could have posted Hope’s sitting up on Facebook.  She sat up for me five times and no one has heard about it yet.   It. Is. Killing. Me.  And all of the kids are saying hilarious things that would make for great little quotes on Facebook world.  So many posts to post today!  But there will be no posts.  Sigh… Just this blog post.

I have to trust that the people who really, truly care and want to know will keep up with me and our family.  I have to believe that I’m not cutting anyone off who wasn’t ok with losing that connection.  And I have to believe that even if I did unintentionally do that that this is what is best for our family, and my husband and kids have to come first.  Lots of emotions to wrestle with.

*****

Putting Evangeline to bed at twenty-one hours post Facebook deletion and as I went downstairs she said to me “Tootle-loo for now! And do remember me to all your friends!”  Where is Facebook when I need to post these crazy, wonderful things?!  Ahh!!  I need to start a quotes journal or computer log or something…

*****

Twenty-Four Hours.  Well, I made it.  One whole full day without Facebook.  I don’t really miss it.  I miss the convenience of it, but all my muscles are sore from lots of hard work.  I have been more diligent about everything, chores, prayers, mothering intentionally… it’s been a good day.  I think the thing I miss the very most is seeing what is happening with my friends.  I have this blog, but most of my friends and family don’t blog.  I want to be involved in people’s lives.  I want to keep up with everyone who has loved and supported our family.  I’ll need to pray about that.

Realistically I can’t spread myself so thin by being involved in hundreds of people’s lives, even superficially.   I need to build relationships that truly count.  I pray God gives me the wisdom of how to do that.  But today and tomorrow, and the next day I’m just going to focus on getting my own stuff together and building my family back up again.  I’m needed here most of all.

Knock Knock…

Anybody home? Yes! I am! And we have lots to catch up on!  First and foremost, I wanted to announce the long overdue winner of our giveaway! Stefanie!  Congratulations!  I’ll be contacting you soon to work on getting your prize all set up!

Second, I am so sorry for not posting sooner.  The worst of the adjustment period seems to be over for us and I’m hoping that the next few months we’ll avoid surprise surgeries and unexpected setbacks and get to finally see what our new normal looks like.  We are also trying to get a more reliable internet connection at the house so I can blog more often.

It takes so long to upload a basic post that it hasn’t really been realistic for me to do much.  But now that we’re finding a groove, I’m ready to get back to it and a reasonable internet connection will allow that to happen!  It will also allow me to start uploading pictures again!  If there’s something that you’ve been dying to know about how our family’s doing please comment or send me a quick message and I’ll put it on the docket for posts.  Hope everyone has had a wonderful summer!  It’s good to be back!

Hope is out of the hospital, she’s doing wonderfully.  We are still working through some issues though.  The catheter that drains fluid from her brain became infected, and the bacteria was present in the spinal fluid of her brain.  Life threatening stuff!  But we have the amazing gift of medicine, and we give great thanksgiving to God for the miracles He accomplished through our doctors.  After spending two weeks in the ICU and going through two more surgeries, she is now healthy and thriving once again.

The unfortunate piece of this, however, is that Hope’s self-harming behaviors were the cause of the infection.  She constantly jabs and picks at her catheter.  It was never an issue before, I think, because it was an old surgery (from when she was a baby) and it was fully healed before her stimulating behaviors started.  But when she received a new shunt and catheter back in April, the tissue didn’t have time to completely heal.  We did keep her away from it for several weeks afterward, but that wasn’t enough time.

Now we are in the difficult position of preventing her from touching her catheter until it is fully healed – her neurosurgeon said six months.  The area we need to protect runs from her neck all the way down to her stomach, it’s a very large space.  There is absolutely no behavioral redirection that prevents her from picking; it is a compulsive stim and she just can’t help it.  This means that when we aren’t able to be one-on-one with her and watching very closely, we have to keep her safe some other way.

We are working so hard to find a solution that doesn’t include pediatric restraints.  It took us a month before any of her doctors or therapists would even have a serious brainstorming discussion with us.  We tried some solutions with our own creativity, but nothing has panned out yet.  Hopefully soon.

In other news… Jacob and Evangeline are starting 1st grade!  We have lots of great books to get us going and I’m super excited for both of them.  Technically Evangeline would be in Kindergarten this year, but since we are homeschooling it gives us a lot of flexibility to go at their pace, so I opted for an early 1st grade start and if we need to take more than a year to finish it no one will be stressed out!  Having them start in the same grade will also be super helpful for me, as I only have one lesson plan.  Yay!

I’m telling Stephen that he gets to “start Preschool” with them, which really just means I’ll have schoolish things for him to do when he feels like it.  Hope is definitely in school with us, but she isn’t really classified in any grade level yet.  I’m hoping that by the time Stephen is ready to start 1st grade her attentiveness will have grown enough that she can listen to the books and music and enjoy them along with him.

The children have reached lots of milestones since I last updated.  Jacob is now using crutches around the house instead of a walker!  He still uses his walker to go to church and back, but he is getting really strong and we are so proud of how hard he’s working on his walking.  He even walked up the stairs for the first time ever a few days ago!  Tomorrow is Jacob and Hope’s first baptism birthday and we will have a dinner and cake to celebrate with them.

Hope is now able to sit up on the edge of her bed and help me put her shirt on.  This is a huge accomplishment!  She does it without prompting and seems to enjoy participating in her care.  She is getting more interested in being a part of our family every day.  It’s amazing to watch her come to life.  I’m working on teaching her to tell me when she wants to be picked up and also showing her how to go from a laying to a sitting position.  She’s strong enough to do it, she just needs to learn that she can!  We started putting her in her stander for a while but we’re breaking from that.  Her braces aren’t exactly correct and she has some alignment issues, so we’re going to try and sort all that out before doing any more standing.

Evangeline has her very first loose tooth, which she is impatient to get out.  She also started her first dance class last week.  She is in a ballet and tap class and is really enjoying it so far!  It has some of the same elements as gymnastics, without the flipping on bars way off the ground, which she didn’t care for much.

Stephen, on the other hand, loves gymnastics!  His first class was also last week, and even though he was shy at first, once he got in on the fun he never stopped smiling once and he zoomed through all the skills.  I was impressed!  He is getting more interested in reading now and would be happy reading several books all in a row if I had the time for it.  He just had his third birthday and is turning into a sweet, sweet kid.

Kyrie is growing like a weed; she is already in 2T clothes and she has four teeth!  Ack!  How did that happen!?  Last week she said her first word “Dada”!  She won’t say it for us every time, I suppose it’s on her terms. We are diaper free now except when we go out in town.  I still take her potty when we’re away, but we use a diaper just in case we can’t find a potty fast enough.  She stays dry through the night for us, which is awesome, and she typically has a few accidents throughout the day, but we’re doing really well for six months and I’m enjoying not having to buy so many diapers!

 

A Bright Day

Hi everyone!  Ok so really quick.  For those of you who follow my Facebook page, I posted a prayer request a few days ago because I was trying to write a post (which I’ve been honestly trying to write for months) and it just wasn’t coming.  The words I needed to say were hard words.  Really hard.  And I didn’t know exactly how to say them.

Well… ya’ll are amazing prayer warriors apparently!!  Because the next morning I woke up and my life was changed.  It sounds sensational and crazy, I know. But I have no other way of describing it.  So, if you want to hear more there’s a video on my Facebook page you can look at here. (Because I still have no idea how to post a video on my blog! Lol!)

I will be posting again soon!  And the next post will have the winner of the giveaway from a long long time ago.  Thank you all so much for your patience these last few months as my posts have dwindled.  There are some seasons of life where we need much grace, and this last year has definitely been that for me.

Looking forward to brighter days with the best people in the world who have stuck by me through it all.  I love each and every one of you, even those of you I don’t know who are reading I pray for you and love you just the same.

A Happy Break

Hello dear friends!  I have been gone recently.  I have a couple of posts in the works but I literally do not have a waking moment free these days.  So as a happy birthday present to myself (that was last weekend) I am taking a happy month-long break from blogging.  Which really just means, I’m telling you how I won’t have any time to blog in March so I can stop feeling bad about it!

I do have lots of things to write about, but there is SO much going on!  We have appointments and testing galore for Jacob and Hope this month, along with four birthdays, Kyrie’s baptism this weekend and a conference to go to.  It’s getting quite crazy around here, and I’m trying to take care of myself in the midst of the chaos so I can be present for the kids too.  (Read: I am trying to get a reasonable amount of sleep.)

So… please don’t feel abandoned.  I’ll be back, hopefully sooner rather than later.  Praying for a peaceful April…

Oh and for anyone who is local, you are very welcome to celebrate Kyrie’s baptism with us this weekend!  The service begins at 10am (email me for directions if you need them) and the reception will be at 2pm at the parsonage.  Everyone is welcome to both the Divine service and the reception afterward.  No need to RSVP, just come and celebrate God’s abundant love with us!

Blessings on the rest of your month!!

My Fabulous Five

IMG_1655This week has absolutely blown me away.  I’ve been keeping quite busy tending to five, fabulous little people and… well that’s about all I’ve been doing.  No housework to speak of… none.  In any case, we have a new routine set with our sweet Kyrie added to the mix, and it is working out better than I ever could have hoped for.  After a very long and difficult winter, things are certainly looking up!  In fact, things are smoother around here now than they have been since we got home from Ukraine.  Never did I expect adding a child to the family would make my life easier, but it seems to have done just that.

A huge part of that has to do with my own attitude and perspective.  I will be the first to admit that many of the struggles we’ve had as a family in the last several months were really just issues with how I was managing (or not managing) the household.  Emotionally I was running on empty, which meant a lot of withdrawing was going on and not a lot of intentional presence with my children.  Our routine always seemed crazy and hectic, and I was constantly overwhelmed with what needed to be done like… yesterday.

We still have a million and one things to do.  But I’ve just had to take a step back and realize that God has this under control.  We can only get done what we can get done, and my first vocation is to love my family.  I can’t love my family well when I am so caught up in the “needs” of the world.  Has He not provided all that we need?  Will He not continue to do so?  Including providing us with days to run errands and make appointments?!  Of course!  So I’m going to stop stressing over those, and wait on the Lord to provide those opportunities in His good time.

And while I wait, I am working on making my world much smaller and focusing on just being present with the beautiful family He has entrusted to my care.  With Kyrie here I knew I had to lower my expectations with what I could accomplish.  Going into this week I was determined to bring my “A Game”, because I knew I’d need it, and I knew better than to expect anything but the minimum from both myself and the kids.

I have also been convicted lately of not putting as much work into this job of motherhood as I would have if it was a “real” job where I was getting paid monetarily and had to answer to a supervisor who I wasn’t also married to.  Ahem.  Yeah, quite humbling to realize how I stack up against my own self!  Especially since that self was a college kid from seven years ago.  Yikes.

Yes, there are totally differences between the 24/7 job of motherhood and an 8 hour shift in someone else’s home where you only spend about 20 hours a week.  However, I can do better.  And I know it.  So that’s what I’ve been working on this week.  While the children are awake, they are my job, and I am trying really hard to treat it that way.  No more Facebooking at “work”, no more saying “Just a minute,” when I really mean “I sure hope he forgets what he asked for so that I don’t actually have to add that to my to-do list.”  Etc…

This perspective has really been working well, though it’s the equivalent of having a 14 hour shift every single day that ends with being on call until the next shift starts… which is totally exhausting, but also incredibly rewarding and worth it.  It’s also doable, and I know this season of life won’t last forever.  It’s also the reason why I’m not blogging too terribly much.  When I do have a break in the middle of the day now I have been finding I must take that afternoon nap.  It has been a lifesaver, and that is typically my computer time when I’m awake.

I know ya’ll understand that I’m busy, but I also love blogging too or I wouldn’t be doing it.  It’s a great outlet for me, so I’m definitely going to keep trying to make time for it where I can.  Self care is so important when you have other people depending on you for their needs, and with five very needy (and lovely) people depending on me day and night – I have come to realize that I need to take care of myself if I’m going to be a healing presence for them.

But anyway, enough about me!  I did title this my fabulous five for a reason.  I wanted to let you all know how the children are adjusting to our new normal, because that’s the question everyone has been asking.  The answer is… they are doing amazingly, astonishingly well – all five of them!  Let’s start with the itty bitty one first shall we?  Kyrie is a dream.  She fits like a glove in our family.  She is the easiest baby I’ve ever had.  She sleeps when we sleep, at nap time and at night time.  I’m getting more sleep now than I did when I was pregnant!  She is very content in her bouncy chair, which makes my days actually doable.  She almost never cries; she is doing really well with her pottying, which means we won’t have to have two kiddos in diapers.  Woohoo!  (Yes, I will blog more about that later.)

And, best of all, she sleeps through everything.  Anyone who has spent time in our house or on the phone with me will know that this is not a quiet place, and she doesn’t care one bit.  Thank you Lord for little mercies!  When she is awake, Kyrie is always very still and quiet, much more so than I remember Evie or Stephen being.  She seems to have a very contemplative nature, which will be quite an interesting dynamic to add to our very active crew.

Speaking of active :)  Stephen is next.  He is doing great with his new big brother status, it hasn’t fazed him one bit.  He loves to dote on his little sister and holds her every day.  He’s always saying how he loves the baby, and if she isn’t in bed when he is (his bed is still in our room as well) then it is quite concerning.  He is the classic protective older brother, and we haven’t seen even a hint of jealousy.  I expected regression in several areas, but the only change has been that he’s much more clingy in the wee hours of the morning.  That usually ends in an uncomfortable Mommy sandwich with Kyrie on one side and Stephen on the other.  Suffice it to say, I hope this phase ends quickly.

Dear Evangeline has also been doing better, much due to our new routine that has everyone less stressed.  She is incredibly empathetic and perceptive and is a sponge to the emotions of everyone around her.  Because Jake and I have been doing a lot better the last few days, she is also doing a lot better, which I am so grateful for.  Her nurturing side is just basking in having a baby around to care for.  She would hold her all day if Kyrie would allow it.

Kyrie is also just a healing balm to weary souls. (What baby isn’t?!)  But she especially ministers to her older sister.  If Evie is having a hard time falling asleep I’ll even make a point of taking Kyrie in with me, and her presence seems to calm her in a way that even I can’t.  It’s beautiful watching God’s compassionate hand working through even the smallest and neediest of people.

I would say of all of them, Jacob’s life and demeanor seem to have changed the least in the last week and a half that his new sister has been here.  He loves her just as much as the others do, but his interaction with her is noticeably less than theirs.  He does hold her and give her kisses, but he just doesn’t seem quite as interested as Evangeline and Stephen are.  Is it a personality difference, an institutional thing, something else entirely?

It’s really hard to know, but either way he does love her and we aren’t seeing any regression with attachment or in other areas, so I’m perfectly happy with where he’s at right now.  We’re still in the process of finishing up his evaluations to get therapy services from the school district, and that should be done mid-March.  I’m looking forward to seeing him add occupational and speech therapy to his repertoire!

And saving the best update for last… sweet Hope.  Things are changing around here for our darling girl, but mostly indirectly due to Kyrie’s arrival.  She doesn’t have much contact with the baby other than a few attempts at teaching “gentle touches” here and there throughout the day.  She is certainly interested in the squirmy bundle on my lap, but she still can’t do much in the way of interacting with her.  Many of the children she shared a room with in the orphanage where babies, so I think she rather likes having Kyrie around, she just doesn’t know how to show it yet.

So, how has our new bundle of joy added to Hope’s life?  There are a few ways.  First, having a new baby forced us to change our routine with Hope.  What we were doing was not working.  I’ll try to blog more extensively about this too, but really, parenting a child who spent nine years in a laying room is a puzzle.  There are very few people experienced in this sort of care, meaning our doctors and therapists and experts can help by laying out tools and resources, but we are the ones who have to figure out which ones to use and how to use them.  As my dear husband says, she is a riddle wrapped in a question mark.

Much of our parenting Hope has been trial and error. I can’t even remember how many different sleeping arrangements we’ve tried in the last six months.  My midwife, on a visit a few days after Kyrie was born, suggested we try a Tryptophan supplement for Hope to help her sleep.  Sure enough, she has slept through the night three times this week!  A first as far as we can remember.  Typically she either doesn’t go to sleep for hours or wakes up around 2 or 3 am.  Having her sleep better is a blessing for all of us and I really pray that it continues.

We are also giving her more intentional sensory/play times, as well as intentional resting times during the day.  Our routine really revolves around her schedule now, as the other kids’ activities are much more flexible.  It’s too early to say how much it’s helped her improve, but it certainly has made our family’s dynamic more peaceful and that is absolutely worth it.

And finally… drum roll please…

Hope has words!! She started talking!  Seriously!!!

Mima spent several days with us that first week postpartum and started a new game with her.  To everyone’s surprise, she loved the game (she is usually motivated by nothing but stimming) and she was so eager to play that Mima got her to attempt the word “ball” whenever she handed the little ball over to her.  The more they played the more her word sounded like ball, and now she will do it consistently when asked!  Crazy!  Then yesterday at lunch I was able to get her to say “oooo” for food.  She tried adding the f sound to the beginning, but we’re not quite there yet.

She actually has sounds that she uses that have meanings attached!  I can’t emphasize how huge this is for her.  Our ten year old girl is learning how to talk!!

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