Liesel is my little bookworm. Always wanting to learn a new skill, craft, recipe, or language. She has an inquisitive mind and is a straight A student. She is a big help around the house and with the little kids. She has a tender heart and is very protective of any siblings who are being left out or hurt. She lets Hope sleep in her room now, since Zoya's feeding pump was so loud in the night. I find that awfully kind, considering my sister never let me sleep with her! :) Liesel's favorite subjects are Latin and Literature. She is pretty good at math but she says she doesn't like it. She has really blossomed and come out of her shell a bit since we joined our homeschool group, Classical Conversations. Being in a small class of only 9 students has helped her to gain confidence in participating in group discussions and standing up in front of the class to give presentations. Her teacher made me proud recently when she told me that Liesel boldly confronted another student in the class who was using the word 'retarded' as an insult. Having three siblings with special needs, she wasn't going to tolerate that kind of language. I am proud of her.
Jude is the household computer genius. He is always pursuing the latest gadgets and the latest software, which is partially the reason I quit blogging for 6 months! I can never remember how to navigate through the most recent upgrades. And he is not too patient with me when I ask him the same questions over and over again. ha. He loves making movies in his spare time. He is a little bit of a loner, preferring to hang out with adults over other 5th graders. I was a little worried about this, but John tells me was exactly the same way at his age, and I think he turned out pretty well! Jude makes a great kitchen helper. He loves helping me in the kitchen and is fascinated how the different foods and flavors come together to make a wonderful meal. He is also good at fixing things. He is pretty handy to have around! He is great at saving money and spending wisely. He may make me a rich woman someday!
Hope is in second grade, creative, outgoing, friendly, smart. She loves to read, loves to ride her bike, play with Zoya. She is my most affectionate child, and I LOVE it! I get hugs and kisses and 'I-love-you-Mommys' EVERY single day. She really is a good sport about having so many siblings her age with various special needs. I continue to be surprised how well she has embraced each of them and loves them. Her very best friend her is her cousin Sebastian. I am always fascinated with how well they resolve their conflicts in a very mature fashion. Some adults I know could learn something from them. She loves Mermaids, dogs, and especially her little pet hamster, Winter.
There is something so special about Ava. She keeps the whole family smiling and laughing. She has become a little bit bossy, wagging her finger around and telling us all 'no' (one of the few words she knows). Her laugh is contagious and she is so very squishy and cuddly. We are pretty crazy about her (as if you didn't already know this!) Her hair never did grow back, and in fact she has lost her eyebrows and the hair on her legs and arms from alopecia. We hardly even notice the stares any more. I do wish she would keep a hat on, especially in the cold winters and hot sunny days. But she doesn't. We are still working on potty training. ugh, that girl! She is hitting and pinching less and less, which I feel must mean she is overcoming her severe sensory issues. She can RUN and jump now, and can keep up with the other kids when she is outside playing with them. I still can't believe how much she has changed.
Joseph is SMART, but still hardly says a word. He grunts and points a lot but uses sign language to communicate mostly. He absolutely loves school, and every morning when he wakes up he claps his little hands together, asking, "do we have school today?". He still has wild days and wild moments but he is doing SO much better controlling his behaviors. We have finally cured him of his obsession with tearing paper. I cut a silky sash off an old dress and sent it to school with him. For some odd reason, this did the trick. Of course now he is obsessed with ziplock bags, but that is so much better than paper! Homework assignments are not written on ziplock bags, and money isn't made of them either! Joseph is starting to write his name, and we have nicknamed him Joe to make it easier for him to write his name. And boy can he write his name! Just the other day, someone put him to bed with a black crayon. I walked in to see, written all over the beds, walls, floors, mattresses, sheets, doors...."JO JO JO JO JO". I didn't know whether to laugh or cry! He is also a great cuddler and, like Hope, loves to give me kisses.
Zoya is a sweet, loving, compassionate girl who is well loved by pretty much anybody who meets her. Her medical issues have been so challenging! I've spent so many hours and hours driving her to appointments, on the phone with doctor's offices and insurance company. I have a love-hate relationship with the feeding tube. On one hand it has helped her gain TWENTY pounds (!!!). On the other hand, that feeding tube has given us a lot of grief. Between waking up in the night silencing the pump, cleaning up the vomit and bile daily, washing formula out of her hair and sheets every morning. And worst of all, having the feeding tube has completely decreased her oral intake. We now have a feeding therapist coming every week to work with Zoya to get her to be able to swallow the foods which are so difficult for her. Sometimes I think I shouldn't have pushed to have the feeding tube. I wonder if she would eventually have learned to eat and gained the weight on her own. Anyway, feeding difficulties are top on my list of things I would never wish even on my worst enemy. Besides this one issue, she is a lot of fun to have around! This past weekend, Zoya went to the Nutcracker with her school nurse. She has been talking about going to the ballet for months, and just when I thought I wasn't going to have to hear about it anymore, she said today, "I want to go to the ballet again!" Sigh....
John and I are doing very well. He does a wonderful job of managing all his work responsibilities and still managing to give the kids and I his time and attention. He initiated weekly dad-night, where he takes one child out alone every week to have some one-on-one time. Of course the kids love this, and I get my turn every now and then too. We love attending Lifechurch.tv, where they have welcomed our unique family with open arms. We have made some precious friendships with some precious families, both through our life group and our homeschool group. I appreciate that a few of you have emailed or messaged me to check up on us over the past few months. I hope to get back to blogging regularly again but I've had a hard time getting my groove back!