Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Almost 2 years Old!

I can't believe I haven't blogged in 2.5 months. Actually I can, because I thought of it often, just never did it.
In un-Alanna news, we are moving!! As in RIGHT now we are moving. We are PCSing to Langley AFB, VA. I am so excited. That has always been at the top of my list.
We are in between places right now. Trying to buy a house. Just LOTS going on.

Of course what you came here for Ms Alanna.
I cannot believe my baby will be 2 in a couple weeks! She has grown so much in the barely 8 months that we have had her. To think she didn't know how to smile, laugh, reach up to be held, cry for attention, etc...

Let's see, how about a Stimming Update first!
I realized it had gotten much better, but I didn't realize HOW, much better till my FIL said to me the other day "she doesn't hit herself in the head anymore does she?"
Well, she does, but I would say about mmm, maybe 10-15% as much as she used to. No joke! She did become obsessed with bouncing the back of her head off the couch cushions for several months, but that has eased up quite a bit.
I contribute this mostly to her knowing to come to me when she wants something so she is  not as stressed as before. Also, she is just too busy! She went from having little interest in toys, unless we sat them right in front of her and played with her to her dragging out all her toys to play everyday, for lengthy periods of time.
My goodness, as a I typed that tears run down my face. She is no longer trapped inside her little neglected body, too emotionally neglected to know how to deal with things. She is so full of life now!
People who have down syndrome are know for not liking change and she def displayed this when we went on a little trip just her and I to Ohio to visit my sister and my new nephew. First she had a little stomach bug, but then she was just all over the place emotionally. Refusing to eat, screaming at even the sight of food, every meal except the one she slept through was spent with her screaming.
She does display some self harm behavior when she gets upset, which tears at me. She will scratch and pry at her mouth, she pulled her own hair, etc...
The minute we were back home, she was back to her old self. Like someone flipped a switch!

I know that trip was hard for her, most likely combined with the stomach bug she had. But we are always on the go, so I think the best thing is just to keep her as used to it as we can. We have been at my inlaws for a week now, and she is doing really well.

I'll post a few pics and update more the next couple days.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

21 Months Old!

My Lanna girl is 21 months old today. It makes me sad she is getting big too fast. The changes I see in her are amazing to me. Every single one makes me so emotional.
She is exploring her environment sooo much more. She crawls all over the house. We used to have to put her toys in front of her. Now she goes over and picks out the ones she wants and drags them over to play. She is starting to have a sense of humor. She has her favorite Baby Signing Times DVD and when I put it in she gets so excited.

She's getting a little sense of humor. She likes to hear me laugh, so she gives me this big cheesy smile. It cracks me up everytime. I looove it. She does it to other people to like her therapists. Little Ham.
She is pulling up on everything and cruising! She signs eat. She says Mama!! (not regularly but at times)
Her favorite place to be is in my lap. She pulls to be picked up then turns her little self around to sit down. We had friends over watching a movie and she sat in my lap the whole time.
When she got restless in church service this past Sunday I went and took her to the 2 year old (the 1 year old room was empty, I guess everyone turned 2) Normally this would just trigger a lot of stimming. The room was packed. She crawled right over to the toys and pulled some toys off the shelf to play with. I was so proud and happy for her!
This morning she crawled into the dining room, normally she goes in there to lick the chairs, haha. I could hear her, I didn't hear any stimming just babbling. A couple minutes later I went in there and this is what I found

My Smart Head Banger

This chick is too smart. Her favorite stims have to do with her head, mostly hitting the side of her forehead. Sometimes very hard, mostly when she is tired or something is wrong. Her new stim. (overall her stimming has lessened) is bouncing her head off the couch. She sits with her back to the couch and bangs/bounces the back of her body off the couch cushions. If she is in front of the arm of the couch it is hard and she cries, then scoots over to where the cushions are, LOL. She tests banging her head on other surfaces, like walls, tables, floor, but she does it very slowwly and only once then she decides, nope that will hurt. Thank God!! I let her bounce her head off the couch because it's much better than any other surface!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Few Of Her Favorite Things

It's somewhat challenging to find toys that are easy enough for Alanna to manipulte in a manner that will keep her attention. So I thought maybe you guys might want to see some of her favorites and maybe your kiddos would enjoy them as well.

I picked this up at a nice toy store, I think it was 12.99, they have it on Amazon for a couple bucks cheaper. I love amazon! You fill it up with water, there are little floating fish. She can hear and see the water splash as she hits it, she loves it.

Another favorite is her Leapfrog activity table. I love any Leap Frog products, they are well made and engage the children well.

This ball popper toy, she loves!! What kid wouldn't. But we have to be right there to pick up the balls that pop out and to push the button to make it go, it is too hard for her. She knows to push buttons, but this one is too hard.

Apartly if you are that determined, you can buy this modified one.
For a hefty price of course.

We have a regular Fisher Price xylophone, but she doesn't hold onto the stick to wack it. This one she I linked to she loves!! The keys are very easy to make go down, and it's fairly loud.

I'm not sure what this toy is called. But it's for young babies to lay under and hit and play with the toys. She loves going In things, so she goes under it and places, or rocks back and forth.

She loves this Baby Einstein Ball.

And this ball popper, it is easy enough for her to push down. She has another one just like it that she can't do.

Her number one favorite toy is her Johnny Jump Up, I picked it up at a consignment store for 12.00, the BEST 12.00 ever spent.
It is great for her sensory needs. The things she does in there are amazing! She sticks one foot to the floor then uses the other to go around and around, then lifts her legs to spin around. etc...
She is outgrowing it. I have been looking at indoor swings, does anyone have one they love?
I highly recommend the Johnny Jump Up with the tray, it provides a little buffer between them and the doorway.
Like this one

What are your kids' favorite toys?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Eye Appointment

Alanna's eyes cross. They both cross in, but not necessarily at the same time or to the same degree, and not all the time. The doctor looked at her eyes, he agreed "yes, I do think they are crossing" mmmk.
So they gave her the drops to dialate her eyes, we waited 20 minutes then he took a lense and a light to look and check for refraction to see if she is farsighted. None of which she appreciated.
He explained all kids are far sighted, but kids with with disabilities such as Down Syndrome are more prone to it. He said the plan would be for her to wear glasses all the time. Until sometime when she is 5,6,7, 8, or so she will outgrow the farsightedness. Her eyes are crossing in an effort to see, so supposedly the crossing will stop with the glasses because she will be able to see.
He said he wanted to see her back in 1 month. Of course there is an eye shop attached to his office, so he gave us a coupon and sent us on our way. They tried 2 pairs of glasses on her, both metal frames, which seemed very unrealistic to me, the glasses will be over 200.00 and I can see her reaching up and breaking those in about 10 seconds flat. So I am researching our options.
As I was about to leave the room, the docotor says he wants to ask me something personal. "Why in the world would you want to adopt a 4th child when he already have 3" (he had asked earlier if she was my only child) My big response was "because we wanted to, and we could, so we did"
I did not get the vibe this is what he wanted to ask me, I think what he was getting at was why did you adopt a child with special needs when you have children already. He went on to say he just didn't understand, etc... Why would anyone want so many children? He said he had 3 and that my kids must just be better behaved than his because it was hard. To which I said "must be, my kids are pretty amazing"

Other useful sites

Saturday, August 13, 2011

18 month Check Up

Alanna had her 18 month check up several days ago. Yes, she is almost 20 months. My intention was to make her 18 month appt when we moved so it could be her first appt with her new Dr but of course we never moved.
Alanna is amazingly healthy. Her heart diagnosis that we recieved overseas was an extra chord (no big deal, like an extra finger). And a small hole that has closed up, no murmur can be heard. But I really wanted her checked out just to give her the all clear on her heart, so she has an appt for an ECHO next Friday.
I find it interesting that both times I've taken her to the dr. for her routine check ups they hand me the same sheet they hand me when I take my other children. This just seems odd to me. I'm not overly sensitive, trust me, but couldn't there be an alternative with real information on children who have Down Syndrome? Does everyone's elses doctors do it the same way?
Also, I had read about the Down Syndrome Growth Chart. Our children with designer genes tend to be smaller, so there is a custom growth chart. The doctor didn't refer to that, he used the typical growth chart. Again, it does not offend me, but as a mother wouldn't I want to know how my child is doing in comparison to children like her. Again, I'm not seperating her. But how would you feel if you took your child to the doctor and they used a growth chart for children with Down Syndrome. Would that tell you anything about their development?
My Lanna girl is 90th percentile on height
                            50th percentile on weight
                    and  75th for head cirmcumference
That is on the Down Syndrome Scale, I forget what the dr said about the typical scale.
The Down Syndrome Scale can be found here

I'm going to do another post on our ENT visit and see what you guys have to say about that, I love others input.

She goes to PT once a week, both myself and the PTs agreed this was adequate, she is very strong for a child with Down Syndrome and I work with her at home as well. She will be starting OT with an a lady out of her home soon. There is very limited resources in our area for pediatric PT and OT, it is shocking really. My girls see some great PTs but it was like pulling teeth to get them access at first. I only found out about the OT through someone else who goes to her.

Alanna does not handle the immunizations well. (please don't start an immunization debate on my blog, there are other places for that) I only allow them to give her several at a time and she still runs a low grade fever after and sleeps the next day away. We woke her up from her nap after she'd been sleeping for 5.5 hours!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Photo Shoot

Reeces Rainbow wanted a recent picture of my pumpkin pie (my son Cooper says I need to stop calling her that because she is going to think I'm going to eat her!
So, I put her in a cute outfit I had bought before we even brought her home and tried to take some pictures. She was not feeling well, and was not cooperating. Really, a 19 month old not ready and willing to perfectly pose for the camera??!! But I love capturing even her cranky moods.
Here are a couple of my favorites:

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Video!

My Lanna Girl, is starting to big girl crawl!! I think the technical term is 4 point crawl, but since she doesn't like to put that knee down, I think right now it's more of a 3 point crawl!

Friday, July 22, 2011

I'm Baaaaaack!

Sorry I've been gone so long. The week I was having last month when we found out that we were not moving, got worse when I found out that hubby would not be able to take leave (for a really stupid reason) for our trip to OH. Even though we weren't moving there we still had a trip planned to go visit friends and family. So I did what any crazy mother of 4 children would do, and decided to go anyways, without hubby.
People repeatedly either asked me if I was crazy or told me I as brave, which I think concludes that I am little of both, OK maybe there's a little more crazy in there than brave.
But truly I would have never done it by myself if Alanna wasn't the easiest baby ever. She is just so easy going, loving, and quite predicable. Always sleeping through the night, always eating just about everything and anything, she is so easy in public, just taking in the scenery!
We went to a large amusement park for the day. It was us Mommas with all the little ones, while the only Dad went with the big ones. We were there from 10:30-10:00 And she was so into what was going on she didn't sleep at all ALL day! Around 9, she fell asleep for about 30 minutes, then woke up and continued her day! With any of my other kids, I would have found a somewhat peacful spot to get them to sleep. But she was so happy there was really no need to do that.
My favorite thing right now is that she smiles and laughs so much more, and we don't always have to do something like tickle her to get her to do it. She becomes more interactive each day, but she can also play peacefully on the floor by herself.
She still loves doing hand motions with songs, and her massage. When I say "fingers" she puts both her hands out!
She is just the sweetest little thing.
Stimming Update:
The stimming is still there. The variety of stimming has lessened, which I am hopeful is a good sign. However her one stim of choice right now, is hitting her self, Hard, with her open palm on the side or her head. She does it so hard she makes herself cry. I don't like it!! Pulling her hand down does not work. However me laying my hand on her head so she is hitting my hand rather her head seems to be working to lessen it. But of course I have to be right there to do that.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Leaps and Bounds

Alanna is doing great! And that is not just a sugar coated update. Her stimming has gotten so much better. Especially in overwhelming environments, I've noticed her looking around and taking things in rather then just hitting herself in the head. What I really love is she will look at something for a minute, then look at me, like "are you seeing what I'm seeing? Is this all OK?"
She is very attached to me. She seeks out my attention first and foremost. She will crawl up to me and pull on me to pick her up. And she will yell and at me if I walk through the room and don't stop to pick her up. I was sick with a stomach bug one day last week, so my husband took care of her all day. The next morning when I finally emerged from my bed, when she saw me she started whimpering and crawling toward me as fast as she could.
She will still stick her hands out to anyone for them to hold her. But I'm her number one choice! Momma loves that!

And, last weekend she pulled up!! And she has been doing it ever since. I was sitting having my coffee and reading blogs. One minute she was playing on the floor the next she was standing holding onto the couch next to me. I screamed "Oh My Gosh, Gary GET THE CAMERA!!" But make sure my face is not in the picture since I just woke up, ha!
She loves to play peek a boo, and anything that even remotely resembles a blanket she tries to put on her head to play. She loves to take her bib off too, so in these pictures she had pulled her bib off and tried to play peek boo. She forgot it was there and started eating again.

She is growing so fast. I don't think she has gained any weight because she is always on the go. But she has certainly grown in length because she has grown out of most of her 12 month clothes and sleepers. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Grrr, for real?!

Not all of you know me in real life. So you may not know that we are military, well my hubby is so that means we are. And we were due to PCS (move) this summer. We had orders (official paperwork) with a report no later than date (the day he has to report there) of August 1st. Our movers were scheduled for July 14th the kids and I were leaving here June 30th to go to some family events. Because see were had orders to Wright AFB in Dayton, OH, 4 hours from my family, 1 hour from my best friends family.
My husband's boss recieves the news Friday afternoon, the position has been deleted, the job no longer exists, our orders are canceled. Military family nightmare come to life! What the 29744780q8423 oh oops let me try again $&%&^*. Whatever LOTS of bad words!!

NOOOOO. We had a lease signed with half an acre 3400 sq feet. My sister is due with her first baby in October. Officers normally move every 3-4 years. Robins AFB is our bermuda triangle, does anyone know we are still here, does anyone know where here is? We have been here 4.5 years. That's 2 extensions worth, my children are growing roots here, it scares me.

And we rent the home we live in now, we will find out Monday if we have to move out of it, because since we were moving, they found new tenants.

We don't know when we will get new orders, they say not till spring. Not sure if that's for sure or not. Couldn't find a whole lot out because we go the news on a Friday afternoon.

I am soooo thankful we hadn't bought a house where we are going, can you imagine? Yes, I know this could be way worse, as we reminded our children when we broke the news to them. My hubby has a job, etc... But man, does this stink.......

Disclaimer: yes, I know God has plan, yes I trust that. I am always up for an adventure. My human issue is I am not patient and I hate not knowing what is happening next. I make the ideal military wife, at 3 years I want to know where we are going and when, I'm ready!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

NOT that kind of Swinging!

Oh, my. So, I was looking at my stats this afternoon on blogger. It will tell you all kinds of things about your blog, like now people get to it. Such as links from other peoples blogs, facebook, and what words people have googled that lead them to your blog.
So when I read that 3 people had come to my blog by googling, "swinging for the first time"
My mind said "why would someone google that?" How many people google about someone swinging for the first time. Then it hit me, sorry I can be a little slow.
NOT that kind of swinging.
If you typed that as a google search and ended up here, maybe God is trying to tell you exactly how far off the target you are.

Friday, June 10, 2011

My Disclaimer

A lot of times when an adoptive parent writes a post like I did yesterday they will get a nasty comment on their blog, something to the effect of, maybe you should not have adopted if you can't handle it, etc....
Then the person has to post a disclaimer, something to the effect of, I love this child, they are mine, I do not regret adopting them, etc..... Basically defend themselves. Why do have to do that? If a new birthmom is crying becuase she's having a hard time breastfeeding her newborn, or if a birhmom posts about their son with ADHD and how frustrating her day was, do we say to her, maybe you should not have had that child, NO!
I love my Lanna girl to the moon and back, there's your disclaimer.

Another thing I love is my online adoptive Mommy friends. What a huge resource of support of knowledge. As soon as one Mom found out I was upset about the stimming she offered to call me right away and lend her knowledge. It is like therapy talking to another Momma who can understand, truly I felt renewed.
So many different opinions came pouring in. I love different opinions!
Just a FEW of the things that helped me have a new percpective yesterday:
Alanna seeks out my love and attention, this is not typical of a child with autism
Brooke sharing that her adult brother with DS has always stimmed. Now he has a toothbrush that he lightly taps against his hand.
Another DS Momma sharing that her daughter stimms.
Those are just a few, everyone's comments, prayers, etc.... were so helpful. I have been holding in my worried for several weeks, I should not have done that, it was eating me up.
I had several Mommas thank me for posting it, saying they had either dealt with it or are dealing with it and were afraid to post about it.
That should not be the way we feel. The number one audience reading these blogs are other adoptive parents or hopeful adoptive parents. Why can't we be honest about our struggles. Doesn't it help us and others?
Alanna did not feel well yesterday, I'm sure that is why she was stimming soooo much, and it was just the straw that broke the Momma's back, you know how that is if your a Momma. This morning she is back to being herself, With lots of interaction and lots of stimming!! As long as we have the interaction I am a Momma with a happy heart.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Stimming makes me cry

Feeding Alanna breakfast ended with me in tears. No matter what I did, how many times I called her name, tickled her, squeezed her hand, played airplane with the spoon, etc.... she would not make eye contact and she would not stop stimming. Hitting herself in the head, growling, hitting herself under the chin, flapping her hands, staring out of the corner of her eyes at her hand.
Let me rewind to Gotcha Day. When they handed her to me, she would not look at me, she simply diverted her eyes up, to the side, etc... anywhere except to me. She hit herself in the head and growled. "She's acting like she's autistic" I thought in my head. It scared me, I'm not going to lye. And as Serge asked me if we wanted to adopt her, I said yes, with a huge smile, when in my mind I was thinking, "I don't know, is she in there?" Maybe that behavior is normal for a 16 month old with Down Syndrome.
Whew, this is hard to type about the child I love so dearly, the child I can barely stand to be away from for several hours, the child who rarely ever sits in a stroller because I love to carry her around in my arms, close to me.
That night I layed in bed, exhausted from the crazy ride to our region and our 10 minute meeting with our new daughter. I remember thinking, I can't do this, we will just tell Serge we can't do this, we will just go home, she is so young and cute, she will get adopted by another family for sure, a family more equipped to deal with autism. Why did God even lead us to adopt such a young child, we wanted to adopt a 3-4 year old. We could have saved a child from being sent to the institution. I prayed and fell asleep.
The next morning I felt better, and of course after another visit with her I was in love, she made eye contact, played with toys, etc... She was still stimming and growling, but she was certainly in there. And those behaviors aren't unusual for a child who has spent their lives in an orphanage with no stimulation.
The stimming seemed to get better for awhile not as much hitting herself in the head, when we met her she had rough spots on her head from hitting herself so much. But she has added more stimming behaviors that we didn't see before.
She hits herself under her chin with the tips of her fingers
She flaps her fingers
She smacks herself hard in the face, I hear this when she wakes up in the morning and when she is trying to go to sleep at night
She rocks violently back and forth in her exersaucer
She never used to stim violently when I layed her down to bed. Now she does, and she sits up and rocks and hits her head on the crib, and she gets up on all fours and rocks really hard back and forth. I liked it much more when she layed there and sucked her thumb till she fell asleep. I just recently discovered she was stimming to go to sleep. From now on I will be holding her till she goes to sleep then laying her down.
It took a long time for her to respond to her name, but not only her name and sound being made would not make her turn. Yes, we do have a hearing test scheduled.
Now she does turn once in a while when we say her name. Sometimes not at all and sometimes only after we say it a couple times.
She is smart. She will not clap on her own, but she will pick up my hands and put them together so I will clap. She plays Peek-a-Boo, but she has no reaction to it, but I assume she likes it, because she puts things like birp clothes or shirts over her head to play. She never laughs in response to something, only to things physical like tickling.
I'm describing all this so I can input from other parents.

When we take her places, of course the stimming gets worse, because there's so much more going sensory input. I've noticed it makes people uncomfortable. They stare. Sometimes they ask why she is hitting herself, or growling. They will say hi but she diverts her eyes, and pull back her hand when they touch her. So they never ask to hold her. People have said things to her like "why are staring at your hand" "what are you staring at" "she must see something we don't", etc....

Yesterday was a good day, we had Drs appts to go to and she did not stim nearly as much as she usually does when we are out. But she is making up for it this morning. After feeding her breakfast I put her on the floor in the living room and I went into the kitchen to cry and to make my coffee. When I looked in on her she was rocking back and forth hitting herself over, and over, and over. I called her name, but of course she was in her own little world.
When I sat down on the couch with my coffee she crawled over and put her hands up to be picked up.
We work with her face to face for hours everyday. Playing, singing songs, doing hand motions. I have some deep massage I've been doing, which she normally does not stim through, this morning she did though.
I don't know if she's autistic. But it scares me so much, why, because I don't want her to be stuck inside herself. Noone wants their child to not respond to them.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

First Time Swinging

While we were in Huntsville visiting hubby's family this past weekend we took the kids to the park, it was Alanna's first time. I was hesitant to try her in the swing, because she doesn't like things like being lifted up over our head, she freaks out. She freaked out the first time, then it was pure joy.

Yep, our 7 year old fits into the baby swing still, and he thinks it's funny.

Our handsome Cody

Anastasia flying high

  I swear swear this baby  is the most beautiful thing ever!

Friday, May 27, 2011

How do you choose a child?

I see people ask this question on the RR forum. My only answer is God tells you. Sometimes it's progressive, sometimes it's sudden. When we lost Ella, we did not know how we would choose another child. We actually committed to a different child before Alanna. And right after we did we heard God, saying "that is not your child" The next day, I let Andrea know that we needed to change our minds. I felt silly.
Many of us RR Moms know how it feels to see a child that we think fits into what we imagine for our family or what we think we can handle, the age that we think is right, etc.... But God is telling us no. Then we see the family that committs to the child, and we know why. It is so obvious that is their child, that God chose for them.
One of the children we considered, (she is not the one we momentarily committed to), is sweet little Angie. Look at her family!! She looks like she was meant for them, love how God does that!
They are hosting a giveaway to help them raise the needed funds to adopt not Angie, but Neal also!!
Please consider going to their blog and making a donation to help them bring home their God choosen children.
I mean who doesn't want an Ipad2 or a 500.00 Amazon giftcard!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Honeymoon is Over/Honesty Post

Not for Alanna, for Anastasia. Overall she is adjusting so well to having a little sister, and having the attention shift from her, as our youngest on the timeline. (she is not the youngest our bios are 10 and 7, we adopted Anastasia 2 years ago and she is 9 now) She has only had one fit since us bringing Alanna home, a huge difference from before. She hasn't shown any jealousy. Well, Daddy was out of town for work this week and there is a lot of talk about our upcoming move. So of course, some sort of odd behaviour is to ensue. I will ask her something simple, like, "what do you want on your hot dog? *Blank Stare* "Anastasia there is no reason for you not to be answering me, what do you want on your hotdog?" She answers so softly I can't hear. Seriously!! This scenario repeated itself over and over all week. It's especially frustrating when she does it in front of other people, because it doesn't make any sense. I did call her out on it, and informed her that if she continued she would serve a punishment.
So tonight my husband let me rest while he took the baby and one child to go pick up pizza and prescriptions. When I woke up, my husband had told me about something that had occured while I was sleeping, something that was not a huge deal, but she had done it in order to get her dessert ASAP. It was a rule that her and I had discussed many times, but Daddy was not aware of. Big NO NO, don't play one parent off of another. So my husband and I called her into the living room to talk to her about it. Something she was not pleased about. She came, muttering under her breath the whole way. "Anastasia, what are you saying I can't hear you?" She says "I didn't say anything" "Anastasia I heard you, what were you saying?" "I wasn't saying anything Mommy reaaaallllyyyyy!" Both my husband and I asked her, same response. Then she said " I don't know what I was saying, I was talking so low, all I could hear was blah, blah, blah"
Anastasia think about what you are doing before you do it, you are lying, and you make no sense, this is your last chance to tell Mommy and Daddy what you said. "You never believe me, I'm telling the truth, I don't know what I said"
This is the 3rd time we have had this situation in the past week. The first was when my husband asked her not to do something and she did it anyways. It was not something that was a bad behavior just something he did not want her to do right then. She looked right at him and did it anyways. Then he asked her why she did it. Her response, "I didn't do it on purpose" It was not something you do on accident, she was 2 feet in front of him. She repeated over and over and stood her ground that she did not mean to do it.
So guess what my experienced, adoptive veteran Momma did, I sent her to bed. I just could not deal with it. I had a long week on my own with the kiddos, usually it goes smoothly this week, not so much, I am exhausted and just didn't feel like dealing with that behavior. When people say they admire me, I don't understand why. I am NOT the perfect parent. And I admit to you, that I am better at parenting some of my children than others. Adoptive parenting does not mean we have all the answers sometimes it means we ask God why he thought we were equipped to do this?
And let me tell you, for all adoptive parents, parenting an adoptive child is hard. If you have not done it you would not understand. Also let me tell you this, most adoptive kiddos who have behavior problems, do not have them for other people. Most behaviors are directed at the adoptive mothers, it's psychological, and somedays I handle it better than other days.
I am trying my hardest to be honest here. Several of my dearest adoptive friends have manned up and been honest about their struggles on their blogs. I had made the decision I would either be honest or stop blogging. These blogs are here for us to support each other. I realize it's like a reality sitcom to some, but to us adoptive parents, it is essential that we be honest with each other. Most of us feel pressured into making people think that we don't struggle. I find that I'm comfortable talking to people about struggles with my bio kids, but not my adoptive, because people will judge, like I've failed, or like I don't love her, etc... That's not the case, it's just real life we are living. And there are real people, really good parents, who are struggling and feel like they have nowhere to go, people with much bigger behaviors to deal with than us. We need to support each other.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Slow and Steady Gets You to Kirovograd

and it is just as scary as getting there FAST.
Soo, after our SDA appt. We sat and had lunch with our facilitators. Walter was starving, but according to the "alignment of the stars..etc" he was not supposed to eat anything much, so he kept ordering tea and soup. And the man talked, A LOT. Very knowledgable about Ukrainian history. And he kept going back to being prepared because something unexpected was going to happen today, you know, because of the planets, err stars, etc 
So we walk around the area a bit. Then out of nowhere Walter declares he is too tired to continue, and too tired to drive us back to our apartment. So he wants to flag us down a taxi. We tell him we will walk back to our apartment. We part ways, he calls to check to make sure we make it back, he is a very sweet man, but odd.
So, guess who is assigned to drive us to our region? Yep, Walter. And guess who doesn't know how to get there? And guess who borrows a GPS from a friend but can't figure out how to use it. And guess who is supposed to pick us up at 3 am and we have to call and wake him up at 4 am.
So finally he gets there to pick us up a little after 4. We drive about a mile down the road and he pulls over to ask someone where a gas station is. Umm, what? We haven't even left Kiev yet, you don't know where you are? And you're driving us 4.5 hours to our region? We get gas, he pulls over, at least 3 more times to ask directions and we get on the "freeway" And we are driving, in the dark, at 30 mph, everyone else is driving, like Ukrainians/Russians. I AM SCARED. And we are pulling over and asking for directions EVERYTIME he sees someone on the side of the road. Everytime he changes CDs or answers the phone he pulls over to the side. Then he swerves into oncoming traffic, going 30 mph. I start crying. So my husband texts our facilitator to call Walter and check on him.
And he does 2 hours later. And we are pulling over at least once a mile. I'm not kidding, to ask for directions. I'm not convinced we are anywhere near where we need to go, and I think we may end up in Russia. We get to Kirovograd, 7 hours later. 3.5 hours longer than it takes the other drivers.
On the way back to Kiev we requested Walter not drive us, I just couldn't take it again. We had our cab driver from our region drive us, he was 50.00 cheaper, and a super skilled driver. That drive was equally as scary. I felt like we were in a video game the way he drove those roads, weaving in and out of traffic. But that is what we are used to when it comes to our Ukrainian/Russian drivers.
We did see Walter again. He drove us to our Embassy appt. We were 45 minutes late. Just so you know, you can call the embassy and let them know you are running late, it was not a big deal. You know, just in case you end up having Walter drive you.
We love Walter, he's part of our story, and unlike anyone we've ever met over there.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

You gotta tell me these things

Like when I name a post "The Rabbit and the Hare" Kids eat brain cells, so I don't have many left. So fixed it, except I couldn't wrap my brain around how to spell tortoise, or whatever, ugh

The Tortoise and the Hare..driving a car....

I elaborate on that more in a minute. In country you will most likely have several different drivers. Of course, there is the ever famous Niko. Niko is the bomb driver, he is a little older, very experienced and knows his stuff, also very easy going and nice.
So Niko had told us about a guys I am going to call "walter" not his real name, just go with it. So, Niko says he "knows a guy" who can give us a great tour of Kiev, the capitol while we are staying there, this guy knows great English. So we hire said guy, Walter. First of all Walter has an issue, with his car. His car alarm goes off ohhhh, every 10-30 seconds when he is not in it. Why? Not sure. So Walter picks us up and takes us to our SDA appt. Right across from the SDA is a huge souvenir market. There, Walter "knows a guy" who sells souvenirs. We are pressured to buy souvenirs from him and only him. Slightly uncomfortable, but they are very nice and know great english. "The guys" with the souvenors tease Walter about his car alarm going off, they tell us it always does this. When we walk away to go to our SDA appt Walter leaves his keys with the souvenor guys so they can turn his alarm off, should it happen to go off while he's inside with us. Oh, ya did I mention that Walter was not able to park his car, the souvenor guy did it for him after Walter tried several times. I'm a girl, I could have done on my first try, my grandma could have done it on her first try.
If you were wondering, in this story Walter is the Tortoise,
I have to go clean while the baby is sleeping.
To Be Continued.............................................................

Sunday, May 1, 2011

For Me

Every once in a while I look at my hubby and ask him "can you believe WE get to keep her?" To say we are in love is an understatement.
People comment to me all the time how in love we look (Alanna and I) hehe, and we are, like a newborn and mother getting to know each other.
I kiss her toes, breath in her breath, memorize the color of her eyes, squeeze her chubby legs, hug her close, press her cheeks against mine, etc... It is like God made her for me, my child. And the thing is, He did, as her birth mother carried her in her womb, as she lay in a hospital with no visitors, then in an oprhanage crib for 15 months, God already knew she was mine. Because first of all she is His, and we had prayed for another child, and He knew the perfect one.
Sorry, I tend to get sentimental on Sundays. Ha!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Eating Skills

Many people ask questions about what she can and can't do. I understand that people are curious, especially if they don't know anything about how down syndrome effects development. The easiest way to explain it is, whatever it is, she will do, it will just take longer. You know how babies go through stages, it's so much fun, but it goes by so fast, we get to linger and enjoy longer!
I have no anxiety over what she will do when, but when she does the smallest things, we all rejoice with her.
She's got a pincher grasp, on one hand, but refuses to use it while eating!
First she tries to simply hover over the food and see if it will come to her.
She will pick up the food, and try to put it in her mouth, sometimes she succeeds, sometimes not. Either way, it's always cute.

Giardia Beware Poopy Post

Yes, sometimes you bring home some little unwelcome guests. So makes sure that your pediatrician orders a stool test. Alanna's came back psoitive for Giardia. It's a parasite caused by dirty water, and since it lives in the intestines, it is passed easily in any "daycare" type setting.
She didn't look like she was having any symptoms, no loose stool, the opposite as a matter of fact.
Then she got diagnosed, and it was like all of sudden she was having oily loose stools. But she is such a healthy chubby little thing, it didn't seem like it could be making her very sick.

Well, she's been on the medicine for 3 days now, and guess what.
That acid reflux, gone! Before I couldn't even give her the smallest amount of juice/water, it came back up like a volcano. She was constantly spitting up, and she had 3 episodes of vomiting. All symptoms of Giardia, who knew?

It is Wednesday morning, and the last time I saw her spit up anything was Sunday. She must be feeling so much better!
And yet, things like this make me so sad, there are hundreds, thousands, of babies, not only all alone in a crib, but suffering from the most treatable things, that are causing them so much pain.

Cool Story

Cool Story: I was on the phone the other morning with the lady who does the referals at our pediatricians office. She asked why I needed a referal for PT. I said "she has Down Syndrome" She then asked me "are these girls you have adopted relatives?"
I told her no, and she told me how much she admires me, that always makes me a little uncomfortable Then she exclaimed ý"I was sitting behind the CUTEST baby with DS at church yesterday!
Me:"umm, what church did you go to yesterday?" Her "Lifepoint, in Byron" Me: "That was ME!"
She was not expecting that.(neither was I) She said her and her husband had the hardest time paying attention because the baby was cute and the Mommy looked so in love. Then she said "you are blonde right?" LIke she was still having a hard time believing it was me. Haha, "yes, this week I am blonde"
The funniest thing is, our pastor had opened service talking about how you don't know how you might affect the people sitting behind you.

Oh, my, I have no idea why a child with DS needed to impact that lady on Sunday, but I feel honored it was us!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Her Mama

People have asked if she shows attachment, andy knowledge of who her Mama and Daddy are. Yes!!
A couple days ago she started crying whenever I put her down, uh oh!! Ha, I love it! And she doesn't cry long if I don't go back and get her, which I do about half the time, it's hard not to!
I don't think I've explained exactly how unconnected she was to everything when we met her.
Some things we have been working on:

Encouraging her to crawl to us. She had no clue to do this, if nooone ever picks you up or interacts with you, why would you?

Encouraging her to put her arms up when we go to pick her up. You know, how babies do that.

And of course, as you already know from my last post, smiling for joy!

Last night we were at a friends house for dinner. She was a little cranky. She was playing on the floor, kind of happy kind of not, everyone had played with her trying to cheer her up, but she was not her usual happy self. I was sitting in a chair, I leaned down, and said something to her. She looked up and saw me and got the biggest smile and inch wormed crawled as fast as she could to me, then stuck her arms as high up as they would go for me to pick her up!
It was one of the best things ever!!
Yes, she know who her Mama is! And this morning when I woke up, Gary was holding her and she reached out for me!! Poor Daddy. Hehehe.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Teaching her to laugh

The poor baby did not know how to laugh when we met her. Nothing we did could make her laugh. When we tickled her she would scream, like a "Oh my goodness what in the world was that" at the top of her lungs scream. Then she progressed to like a happy sigh grunt thing. Over the past week I would hear her at times kind of laughing, almost like she was practicing, the kind of laugh that sounds like a machine gun trying to clear it's throat. And when we tickled her she would no longer scream instead we would get half a laugh, then she would tense up and no longer be ticklish.
Same goes for the smile. She never smiled when we met her. Then there were certain things we could do to make her smile, like caress her cheek. But NEVER just a smile that wasn't provoked by something physical.
Now, she smiles! In the morning when I go over to her crib. When I pick her up. When I give her kisses. When she sees the dog coming over to play with her. And today, I can say she was laughing. When I made the tickle sound and she would see my hands coming I would get a big smile and some "laughing" still not totally natural sounding, but laughing.

Makes my day, every single time.

2 for 1, maybe more!

I plan on doing some blog catch up, so today you will at least be getting 2 for 1!!
Yesterday my older daughter had her PT appt. Of course everyone there was eager to meet Alanna and get their hands on her. They did not do a formal eval on her (soon though). But they said she looks great. Great tone and very strong. They think her physical delays will be on the mild end of the spectrum. People keep asking me about this, and I was clueless. We think she is doing great for a child who has been in a crib for 15 months but beyond that, we just didn't know due to lack of experience.
They got her to do some weight bearing. She looked like such a big girl standing there with them only holding her legs for balance.
To me she is comparable to a 7-8 month old physically. She can sit, army crawl, roll over, sit from lying down.
Let me clarify, that we are not waiting on pins and needles to see how "delayed" her development will be. She is perfect to us, and we are just enjoying her no matter what pace her development is.

Here are some pictures of us showing Daddy her big girl standing.
And she turned 16 months old yesterday!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

You Poor Neglected Readers!

I know, I thought I would never be one of those Moms who came home and didn't blog for a week! I have not forgotten about you we've just been so busy!
I will have to break down the last week into several posts!
First off, Ms. Alanna is doing great! She is absolutely one of the sweetest, most content, lovable babies EVER! I get teary eyed every day just thinking about how blessed we are to have her.

Let me try to break it down for you, I may run out of time, I need to pick the kids up from school in a bit, take Cooper to get his allergy shot, then take Alanna's stool sample to the lab. (the life of a Mom)

The Plane Ride Home:

Even though we had to wake at 3 am to drive to the airport she fought sleep until our second flight! She made it through a 2 hour flight and a 4 hour lay over, with no more than a couple 10 minute naps! She was a little cranky, but not bad at all!! She was just too busy watching everything around her! Our second flight was 10 hours and she did great, she slept, maybe half of it, and just played the rest. Her reflux was horrible. I was covered in spit up from head to toe, or at least I felt like I was! She never cries about it, it just comes right back up.


We got home around 9 pm. Our other 3 kiddos were waiting up for us, along with my dear friend who had kept my kids and her 4 kiddos. Alanna slept through the whole thing!! They still said how cute she was, but there was no waking her up, and she slept through the night!

How is She Sleeping?

Many people ask this. She is doing AWESOME! She tried so hard not to sleep during the day because she was taking everything in. So around 1 pm she would be exhausted. She would take a long afternoon nap, sometimes we would have to wake her so she wouldn't sleep into dinner time. Then she goes to bed around 8-8:30. She has never woken in the middle of the night. Now she naps in the car sometimes, and sometimes she falls asleep while playing on the floor. But for the most part she takes 1 good nap in her crib everyday.


She's eating good. She loves her bottle! We are giving her whole milk with rice cereal to thicken it. This has helped tremendously with the reflux. She is eating some baby food, some table food, and 3 bottles every day. Any DS Mommas have feeding advice? What milk is healthiest for her? Vitamins? Supplements? Leave me comment!!
At what age did your child with DS go off the bottle? I'm in no hurry just curious.
The only 2 times I have given her juice/water she has vomited it back up. Today it happened as I was walking out the door. I walked back in, held her over the sink while she finished, then grabbed a towel and kept going, my other daughter had an dr appt! Things are totally different the more kids you have, sometimes you have to just keep going! She was fine after that.

What do our other kids think about her?

They are in LOVE with her! More than we thought possible. And they are not the only ones. It's not unusual for me to walk into the living room to find a neighborhood kid sitting playing with her. They are all super sweet with her. I am afraid what her being the youngest by so many years and so darn cute might mean! It will be a miracle if she is not spoiled rotten. We will try to find a healthy balance between spoiled and rotten!!

Does she seem happy and adjusted?

Yes, I can honestly say he does! She almost never cries. She is just a really easy baby.

Tomorrow she has a doctors appt. I will try to post tomorrow with more about her developement and things like that!
If you have any questions, post them in the comment section (you don't need an account to do it) and I will try to answer them tomorrow)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

An easy ticket out!

Well, we are headed home. It's almost 9 pm here on Tuesday, our driver will be here around 3 am to take us to the airport!
We had our appt at the embassy here on Monday, then went and did her medical. And today we went and got her Visa. They said it would take about 45 mintues to an hour to print. But 10 minutes later we were on our way!
We met a family who was adopting 2 teenagers who were hosted through New Horizons, the same organization we hosted Anastasia through 2.5 years ago. It was nice to talk to them, and to meet their new children!

I was so struck by what I saw yesterday, at the embassy of all places!
A parking lot full of people, people hoping to go somewhere. To live, to visit, both I'm sure. But it is not easy, impossible for many actually.
Especially a single young woman. They have to provide proof that they are not leaving to get married, and not come back here! Proof they own property, proof they have something to come back to!
There were several lines, and another just mass of people. Our driver walked us in front of all them, we didn't have to wait in any of those lines. Alanna has an easy ticket out of here! And not to say here is horrible, the inability to choose for yourself is what is horrible! You think we have to paperchase, and wait, and jump through hoops to adopt? Try being a citizen here and want to go travel. It can take years. We met a family with 2 young children, citizen of this country. They said it will take them 4 years!!
I was so bothered by this. Why is America so privilaged? So we can buy bigger cars and bigger houses and 5.00 cups of coffee every day? Why did God choose us to have the freedom and rights we do?
They only thing that was layed on my heart was "maybe He thought we would do something with it"
Hmm, maybe He trusted us to do something with it. And I'm not just talking about adoption, adoption is not the only something. But there seems to be a lot of nothing happening too.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Even More Pictures!!

One of my absolute favorites

Daddy Love

She loves bathtime, but we have to hold her up, because she bends over to lick/drink the water I need to buy one of those bathtub chairs

Notice what her PJs say?

LOTS of Pictures!

She licks everything. Including the floor. She no longer falls over while sitting up!
People with Down Syndrome, have a larger than typical gap between their toes, you can see it in the picture below. It is so precious, she wiggles her toes all the time.