No Right Click

Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy 6th Birthday Noah!

Of course his favorite present would be the four dollar CAT construction toys... ;)

These are Noah's new ridiculous faces he made up about a month ago.  
Finally got them on camera :)

Happy birthday to our handsome, sweet, silly, tiny six-year-old!  We love you, Baby Bear! We are so very thankful YOU are our son! 

This is the first time in Noah's life that his birthday has been celebrated.  What a precious privilege to get to be the ones celebrating him!  

How were we ever content before all his cuteness came into our lives? :)  

Saturday, April 5, 2014

To the Woman Who Thinks My Hands are Full

I saw you watching us for a while as you sat across from us in that waiting room with a serious expression on your face, while I juggled one child in a carrier and the other in a stroller.  You looked unhappy or uncomfortable (and I can totally understand either of those responses).  You finally smiled after we talked to each other.  And then you told me that I must have my hands full.

I could have given you some cheesy line about how my hands are full but so is my heart.  But I didn't.  I told you the truth.  I told you that we adopted these two kiddos and that the first few weeks home were really hard, but that we've found our groove now and our days are pretty smooth.  I told you that although we certainly have hard moments, my kids are really good kids.  And then you looked at me quizzically, probably questioning in your mind if it was true.  I guess I could have given you a list of all of the doctors and store employees who are so amazed at how well the kids do when we are out and how well they listen, but I don't think that would have done it justice.  I don't think that was the point.  

I think you doubted there could possibly be easy days with my little girl, that most days could be easy.  You saw a child with special needs.  What you don't know is that she has cerebral palsy.  That her medical records say she was born premature around 21 weeks.  That she had a massive brain hemorrhage when she was born.  That she was in the NICU for six months after her birth fighting for her life.  That she was fighting for her life all alone for those six months...a one pound, one ounce baby struggling to survive all on her own, with only the Lord fighting for her.  And she did survive.  But that she spent the next five years of her life in an orphanage where no one nurtured her or taught her or helped her talk or walk or sit up.

Where you see a seemingly awkward, very delayed little girl, I see God's grace.  I see a miracle.  A miracle of a girl who never should have survived after her super early birth.  A miracle of a little girl trusting her new parents after experiencing so much hurt.  A miracle of a little girl just discovering life and coming alive.

Most of the time, I don't see her special needs.  I just see my daughter.  I see a loud and silly little girl who thrives on snuggles and lots of attention.  I see a girl whose happy place is Mommy and Daddy's arms.  I see a fighter.  I see a girl who works extra hard every day to do the things I take for granted, like sitting up.  I see a girl with a sensitive heart and a lot of hurt to unravel and heal.  I see a girl who surprises us everyday by how quickly she learns new things.  I see a girl who is being taught to use her spunk and tenacity for good.      

She was certainly loud in that waiting room.  And while it may have looked like I had my hands full working to quiet down her silly giggles (so as not to disturb you and the others around us in the quiet waiting room), wiping the drool off her mouth when she blew raspberries, and stopping her from rocking in her stroller (a new trick she just discovered while we were waiting there), I was actually really amazed that she was laughing genuinely and enjoying this new place. 

You see, a couple of months ago, she never would have been comfortable in that doctor's office.  She would have let out helpless little whines, ground her teeth, and been much quieter in her overwhelmed state.  And although she would have looked "behaved" and maybe even "normal" on the outside a few months ago, she really would have been a scared, overwhelmed mess on the inside.  That day you sat across from us was a victory.  That day showed how far she has come in four months and how much more she trusts her Mommy and Daddy.

I wish you could know her and see that her special needs do not define her.  They are a part of who she is, but they are not all that she is.  I wish you could see the girl I see.  I wish you could see the miracle that she is and the joy she brings to our lives.    

Friday, April 4, 2014

We Have Two Play-Doh Eaters

The kids had their first experience with Playdoh on Wednesday night. We try to incorporate some sensory activities, like playing with Playdoh, into their week because sensory play helps kids develop and engage their brains.      

Most of the time, unless I was helping him poke and squeeze the Play-Doh, Noah did not know what to do with it and just sat there.  He is still figuring out how to engage the world around him, especially when he has to use his hands.  He moved the Play-Doh up and down with his hand the same repetitive way he plays with toys.  Oh, and eat it.  He did that, too. ;)  But, he was did not have an adverse reaction to touching the Play-Doh.  He did not mind the texture.  He just was not sure what to do with this new thing that Mommy kept telling him not to eat.

One of the most encouraging things was that Noah did not hit himself at all while playing with the Play-Doh.  In the past, he would have hit himself to deal with the new sensations he was feeling- even if they were enjoyable ones.  But while playing with the Play-Doh, he was okay with the new things his hands were feeling.  This boy has come a long way! :)    

His sister, on the other hand, went a little crazy with it and was so excited to play with Play-Doh (which totally surprised us!  This is the first sensory play she seemed to love.).  Nora squeezed it, shook it, waved it up and down...and ate it. ;)  See that blue mouth?  This girl is so funny!  She is picky about food, but consistently kept trying to eat Play-Doh.  

It is so much fun to watch their little personalities come out more and more, and see how they will respond to new experiences!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Check Out These Skills!

When you have spent five and a half years growing up in an orphanage with little to no stimulation, progress comes slowly.  The most critical years for development are gone, but you were never taught or nurtured during those critical years, leaving your brain way behind in development.  Add in the trauma of abandonment and neglect and it makes for one damaged brain and one hurting heart.

The brain does not heal overnight.  Hearts do not heal overnight.

And so, we get excited about every little bit of progress our kids make.  We celebrate with them and for them with each little step of growth.  God has already done deep healing in their hearts.  The emotional healing is happening more quickly than we anticipated, but other areas of growth tend to progress more slowly.

But the kids are learning, and we are so excited about it!  Check out their new skills:

Working on drinking out of a sippy cup...sort of.  Mostly, she just lets the milk drip into her mouth and then swallows when it does. ;)  In the near future, we will work on transitioning her with a cup with a soft spout instead of a hard spout.

Sitting in a booster seat, working her trunk (core of her body). 
 It doesn't seem like a big deal, but for Nora this takes a lot of work and focus, because her trunk is very weak with low muscle tone from her CP.

She is working on sitting up in the booster seat for 20-45 minutes each day and handling it like the champ she is.

Cheating ;)  Someone discovered she could lean against the back of the chair for extra support.

Drinking out of a straw with his new sippy cup.  It took a little bit of time to teach Noah, but he mastered it the first day we tried and has only gotten faster at drinking through a straw.  Hooray for oral skills!
He's so darn cute with his lips puckered.  I can't handle it. ;)

Technically, this one is old news...a few months old.  Noah was put on a handful of meds after his heart failure.  Most are for his heart and the pill is for his thyroid.  These meds are sustaining his heart, but in the beginning he would spit them out...which put a lot of fear in this Mama's heart.  Did I mention they are sustaining his heart, as in he'll have heart failure again if he doesn't take them?  

We mixed the meds in bites of food to help him take them, but one of the heart meds has to be taken alone, so we still had to deal with the issue of him spitting out the medicine.  Well, one day Noah just decided he likes his medicine.  Seriously.  He started taking them well, and now we give them all to him straight with no food mixed in.  Also, he can swallow the pill and we don't have to crush it up, mix it with water, and put it in a syringe anymore.  This boy laughs when it's time to take his medicine (which is multiple times a day).  That's how much he loves them.  What a relief to us!  We are so in awe of the Lord's grace in helping Noah enjoy his medicine.  It seems like such a little thing, but when you are worried for your child's life it feels much bigger. 

Noah is also learning how to stack blocks.  We do a lot of hand over hand work to teach him new fine motor skills, but he does not quite understand that he can do these things himself.  He will reach for our hands to put on his hands and do for him.  But just this week, he started doing some things on his own...well, kind of.  He needs my hand on his arm.  But if my hand is on his arm (and he thinks I'm helping him, when really I'm only holding it there lightly and he is doing all the work ;)), he will stack foam blocks now!  Before he would not move his hand unless I was guiding it directly/moving it for him.  Now he moves his hand over to the tower and puts the block on top!  This is huge for him!  We have been working on fine motor skills day after day, and Noah is now beginning to understand and try to do new things. 

In other news, Nora decided it was a good time to grow an inch in two weeks!

Please praise God with us in all that He is doing in the lives of our little ones!  :) 
It is SO fun being their parents!  They amaze us every day! 

Remember sweet Lydia.  She needs a Mama and Daddy to teach her new skills, too.  She needs someone to nurture her.  She will bless you with the best giggles!