Friday, January 29, 2010

She did it!

On Thursday Alex and Emily had speech. Emily's speech continues to amaze and frustrate me. I'm amazed at her progress and frustrated that I still can't understand her a lot of the time. But I can't always understand Danielle either and she doesn't have a speech problem, so I try to cut myself some slack in not understanding Emily. :)

But yesterday when she was done with speech her therapist brought her out and said "Emily, tell mama what we worked on" and Emily turned around and said...


I almost fell out of my chair!! I knew she'd get her S sounds eventually, but I was not expecting this and it was so exciting! Before her retainer all of her S sounds went up through her nose (stick your tongue to the roof of your mouth and try to make a hissing sound through the back of your throat and you can approximate what she was doing). Once she got her retainer she lost all of her S sounds because she couldn't push them through her nose anymore. Soon she'll be getting her S's back, but for real this time!

I seriously think this is one of the best parts about adopting. When you give birth your kids (generally) go through the normal stages of development. But when you adopt you get to watch these kids who have basically been "given up on" thrive and grow and hit all kinds of milestones that would seem inconsequential for a typical child born in the US. It is so exciting and fun to celebrate all of the little/BIG gains they make!

Pray for "Katie"

On Tuesday the kids had a special chapel at school. The son of one of the teachers is a missionary in Haiti and shared with the kids about the orphanage he works with there and a little about the earthquake (not graphic details, just that there had been an earthquake and people needed help).

When I picked the kids up from school on Tuesday, the first thing out of Tim's mouth was "MAMA! We need to pray for Katie! She had an earthquake!"

I giggled to myself as I said "I think you mean Haiti...with an H."

He doesn't know Haiti, but he does know Katie. I'm not sure what exactly he thinks happened to her with this earthquake but I'm guessing we need a playdate sometime soon so he can make sure she's okay. ;) (Katie is a friend of the boys from our previous church so they don't see her very often anymore.)

As a side note, it just occurred to me that none of the kids seemed to do any processing with the orphanage bit. I'm a little surprised that they didn't make the connection to the kids in Haiti living in an orphanage and their previous life in Ukraine. I don't think, however, that they know that the word "orphanage" is the word for where they lived in Ukraine so maybe it just didn't click. Interesting.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Orthodontist appointment for the littlest

Emily had a follow-up orthodontist appointment yesterday to check on the status of her retainer. She's been wearing it to preschool every day and it's only come out once (which her preschool teacher is very grateful about). We can tell a big difference in her speech when she has the retainer in versus when it's out. When Emily asks me why she needs to put her retainer in I tell her it's so I can understand her better, which is completely true!

Mark took Emily to the orthodontist and they said everything looks great. They want to see her back in 6 months when they will do another impression of her mouth to hopefully build a better-fitting retainer. For the impression they will pack her cleft palate with gauze and then stick the mold into her mouth. The orthodontist did a dry run today with the gauze to see how she'll tolerate it and she did great. Hopefully they'll be able to build us a retainer that won't require denture adhesive to keep it in place!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Danielle's glass

Last night as Danielle was carrying her glass to the kitchen she didn't quite get it up on the counter. It fell to the tile floor and shattered at her feet. I'm afraid I scared the living daylights out of her when I yelled "Danielle--stop!!" I was terrified she was going to reach down and try to pick up the broken glass. I dashed into the kitchen (from the dining room) and picked her up and put her on the stool next to the kitchen counter. At which point she started crying. :(

I reassured her that she was not in trouble for breaking the glass and Mark did the same, but it took her awhile to realize that she really wasn't in trouble. Mark came in and moved her back to the dining room table and that helped her relax...although she still kept saying "I break my glass" every few minutes. :) She was fine by the time we all left the dinner table.

Thankfully Danielle wasn't hurt and one glass here or there is of no consequence. I do hope, however, that it will help reinforce that she needs to pay attention to what she's doing. She is our absolute worst about getting distracted when she's doing something. I remember the boys being like that too--I think there are still so many things that are new and different and a lot to catch her eye. She's only been home for 8 months but has already come so far--it's easy to forget how much is still new to her!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Thank you, I'll pass

I would like to respectfully request that I never have to repeat yesterday. I think I can safely characterize it as the most stressful day of my life to date, and having gone through two international adoptions that's saying quite a bit.

I'm not posting any details because they're irrelevant and don't need to be public. All of us are safe, happy, and healthy which is all that really matters to me. :)

I'm just really, really happy it's Tuesday.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Just call me geek

We've had a minor problem with our laptop recently. In reality, it hasn't been so minor. As in: we couldn't log in to use our laptop at all.

It all started with some malware that somehow managed to find its way onto our laptop. I'm still not sure how it got in since we have a couple of different antivirus and antispyware/malware programs, but it managed. No big deal...let the anti-everything programs handle it, right? Except that part of this malware's design is that it changes registry entries, including some of the entries related to login. Which means when the anti-everything programs go through and erase the malware changes, the registry entries for login no longer tell the computer to do the right things. In our case...login.

We ended up with what I like to call the "login screen of death" log on, it says it's loading your settings, and then it bumps you right back to the login screen again.

I looked at a few different options for getting past this and none of them were very pretty--in fact, they were all highly complicated, extremely time-consuming, and only had a small chance of working. So I decided the best option was to retrieve the data off of the hard drive (since the drive was fine) and reformat the hard drive.

Which brought up the next to retrieve the data when you can't login??

After lots of researching (what I do best) I found an external hard drive enclosure. This handy little device lets you plug a laptop hard drive into a desktop computer through the USB ports. I purchased it at a local computer store and hoped my drive would fit since I hadn't taken it in with me.

Long story short, it worked. I transferred all of the files we wanted off of the laptop hard drive to the desktop and will be reformatting the laptop drive probably tomorrow.

Notes to those who might follow in my steps:
--Hard drives are easy to remove. However, it would have been helpful if someone in all of the websites I read had mentioned that I needed to remove a set of pins from the hard drive to get it to fit with the enclosure. As it was, I figured it out and hoped I wasn't destroying the hard drive in the process (I didn't).
--Our laptop hard drive slides out of the side of the computer which means that there is a side piece of the computer attached to the hard drive. I could not get this off, which meant I could not actually put the hard drive into the enclosure. I carefully attached the end cap and cables of the enclosure and balanced the hard drive on top of the enclosure. I really had my doubts that this would work, but it did.
--It is always good to remember to put the pins you removed back on the hard drive before you put it back in the laptop. ;)

I'm sure someone with more computer experience than myself would find my lack of skills highly amusing. I'm just happy to have our files back. :) :)

And if anyone in the St Louis area needs an external hard drive enclosure just let me know!

Monday, January 18, 2010

More mama-school

Today the kids were off for MLK, Jr., Day so we had mama-school again. Amazingly enough...after brushing teeth I announced we were going downstairs for school and I actually got cheers of "Yay, school!!" I'm not kidding. I nearly fell down the stairs. :)

At breakfast Alex lost another tooth--his first top tooth! He looks like a first grader now. ;) It makes me a little sad and proud all at the same time to see him growing up. Unfortunately, he appears to have swallowed his tooth at breakfast which he was very disappointed about.

Everyone did all of their school work with NO complaining, and two of them asked for more work! Emily was quite put out that I didn't have more work for her and we'd already done several worksheets. I did make sure to point out that getting their work done cheerfully allowed them a lot more time to play than when they complained about it!

Then...the girls asked if they could strip their beds and change their sheets. Well...sure! :)

All in all it was a great day. Don't get me wrong; we had our fair share of disciplining going on, and the few sibling squabbles, but it was still great. I think we're all a little sad that they have to go back to school tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


That's how much you guys raised for Cathryn and Connor! Thank you so much!! I am hopeful that a family is in the process of committing to them so I know your donations will be much appreciated by them. Adoption can be scary and that large amount of money required doesn't help things. It is so encouraging when you know people are supporting you, and monetary donations are a tangible sign of that support. :) I will be leaving Cathryn and Connor's pictures at the top of my blog so that you can continue praying for their future family.

I am hopeful that Cathryn and Connor will be home with their new family sometime this year, so when you are reviewing the year you can reflect on the fact that you have helped two children come home!

Thank you to everyone who has been advocating for Cathryn and Connor!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


When the girls came home we didn't have any comforters for their beds, but it was warm so it didn't matter since all of the kids were just sleeping with sheets. When it started to turn cool at night, we put the boys' comforters on the girls' beds and used blankets they already had on the boys' beds. We finally found some comforters we liked this past weekend at Target for the boys.

Last night as we were putting the boys to bed I put one of the new comforters on Alex's bed then asked him if he also wanted a blanket to go on top. He wanted his blue and white crocheted blanket. He asked me who had made his blanket and I told him great-grandma Mary. Who made the yellow blanket? Micah and Tiffany. Who made the train blanket? Grandma. Who made the [Tim's Curious] George blanket? Grandma.

Why did they make blankets Mama? They want us to be warm? Yes.

He got a huge grin on his face and gave me a big hug. There are still so many areas he struggles, and his self-confidence and self-worth are two of those areas. It baffles him to think that someone would want him to be warm. No one cared if he was warm the first five years of his life...what has changed??

Slowly but surely we are chipping away at the hurt he has from his first few years without us. Years of feeling alone and without worth.

Alex is not a material child--it is not the blankets that he is interested in. But the blankets represent that someone loves him enough to provide warmth and safety for him...and the blankets represent that there are now many people who love him and want to make sure he is safe and warm.

Sleep tight, my son, wrapped in the warmth of love and knowing you are home.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Back to school

It was a rough first day back after being off for 4 days. Apparently Emily and Danielle had major listening issues today. The boys did better than the girls but still not great. I think part of it is that they did school with me (which actually went really well on Friday) and they're allowed to get away with a lot more at school...including not doing work. That doesn't fly at home and it's easier to nip it in the bud here--and easier to give consequences since I only have 4 kids and I can send the ones that finish to play while the ones who aren't done can keep working. That's just not an option in a regular classroom.

We try to follow-up at home to reinforce the expectations at school, but often we aren't told about problems until they've been going on for awhile. And sometimes the school doesn't think things are problems, even though we see them that way. Sigh.

One day at a time. Hopefully tomorrow is a better one at school. :)

Friday, January 08, 2010

Second snow day

This morning at breakfast the kids and I were sitting at the table when Mark was getting ready to leave for work. I asked him if he had told the kids yet that they were going to be with me again today, and he said no.

So he turned to the kids and said "Guess what? You get to stay home with Mama today!"

You could have heard a pin drop.

Suffice it to say they weren't terribly excited about another day of Mama-school. It's rough since I actually make them do schoolwork. ;)

School went much better today. We even made homemade pizzas for dinner and all of the kids helped. I did the dough, the boys did the sauce and the girls did the cheese. Then after dinner we watched a movie as a family which the kids loved!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Today's accomplishments

Danielle--tracing and writing letters and numbers
Tim--writing and reading 3-letter phonics words
Alex--math flash cards, dictation spelling sentences, reading aloud to me
(Lunch was in there somewhere ;))
Milk pickup
Snow shoveling
Three loads of laundry
Speech for Emily (Alex's therapist was out)

That was our snow day. I'm not sure the kids will be looking forward to one again anytime soon. ;)


As expected, the Chipin did end before I wanted it to. I think they must end at midnight (or 12:01am) of the day they are scheduled to end. The first Chipin raised $470 which is great!
But just in case there's still anyone who would like to donate and be matched, I've set up a new one and I will end it tomorrow. I will still match all of the donations (up to $50) from yesterday until I close the Chipin. Sorry for the inconvenience!

In other news, we have a snow day today so the kids and I are at home. Unfortunately for them, I'm still making them do school. :) Danielle is working on writing her letters, Tim is working on handwriting and phonics, and Alex has finished his spelling work (writing sentences from dictation) and is moving on to reading. We'll do math for all of them in a bit. Emily did a little bit of writing this morning but I'll work with her more this afternoon when the big kids are playing.

I'd love to let them go play outside but it's really cold today. We'll see if it warms up enough for them to go out a bit this afternoon. We should have speech this afternoon but I have to call and see if our therapists were able to make it in!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Only one more day!

I set up Cathryn and Connor's chipin to end on January 7. It seems like an odd date, but this was a Christmas project and tomorrow--January 7--is their Christmas. As a Christmas present to Cathryn and Connor, I will be matching all donations made to their Chipin for the next 24 hours, up to $50 per donation. How I wish I could match more and give them enough money in their grant fund that a family could step forward without having to worry about where their adoption money would come from!

I do know that when the time is right their family will be there to get them. In the meantime, I think of all the snuggles and love they miss out on by being in an orphanage. I can only hope that they are in a good orphanage--like Emily and Danielle's--where they are getting plenty of attention and care.

If for some reason the Chipin ends before the end of the day tomorrow (sometimes they're finicky that way) I will start a new one in case anyone wants to make a donation to be matched.

Monday, January 04, 2010

'Twas a busy holiday

But very, very good. :) We visited family, had lots of family time at home, and relaxed. It was wonderful. I love being home with the kids and I'm sad that our "vacation" is over (although the kids are THRILLED to go back to school!).

We kept Christmas pretty simple and the kids all knew that we were celebrating Jesus' birthday. Tim said we should have a cake and presents for Jesus. Out of curiosity, I asked him what he wanted to give Jesus as a present.

"I think we should wrap up a yellow tangram." Yes, I'm sure that is just what Jesus has been wanting. LOL But I was encouraged that he wanted to give Jesus a toy that he actually plays with and not something he didn't want any more. ;)

Without further ado, a few pictures of the past few weeks:

Cutting down the Christmas tree

Tim being...well, Tim

The three Musketeers (and look, Danielle lost a tooth!)

When Tim told me on Christmas morning that it was snowing, I fully expected to walk downstairs and see that they had been cutting tiny pieces of paper and had thrown them around as "snow". Imagine my surprise to find this instead!

Far and away our most animated child. :)