Saturday, October 30, 2010

Adopting again!

So I wanted to make a crazy post, about how we were adopting again, and how it was a 2 1/2 year old boy with special needs. But then I remembered that both of my grandmas sometimes read my blog, and I was afraid one of them might have a heart attack from the news.

So instead I will just introduce you to the newest member of the Urban family, who remains nameless at the moment. He did not come to us, we sought him out. The kids wanted a boy to even things out a bit, and to give Nellie a playmate. They also specifically did not want a puppy, "because everybody wants a puppy". They wanted a dog that would maybe have a hard time finding a home. Sound familiar?

He is covered in a rash and his skin is discolored from a severe flea infestation, but we hope to see him blossom into the beautiful yellow lab that he was created to be. He is skinny, and sweet, and so far is getting along fine with everyone. Even Zoya who was terrified of Nellie for the first six weeks she was here, warmed right up to him. He smells 100% better after a bath.

We need some help finding him a name. Any suggestions? Other than Fleabag?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Lookie here...Andrea is People Magazine's Hero of the Year!

Way to go, Andrea! Our family is proud to have been a tiny part of it all.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cleft palate consultation- a post about Zoya

We met with a cleft palate team today for Zoya and we have decided we are going to WAIT at least a year or two to before we attempt surgery.

First of all, we were surprised to find out that it appears a partial repair of the soft palate had already been done at some point. Perhaps when she had her lip repaired? The doctor explained that this was the most important part of the process anyway. He said that right now surgery would present more risks than benefits, simply because of how big the hole is and how malnourished she is. The hole in the roof of her mouth is a significant one, which means she would need to have a lot of existing tissue to extract from other places in her mouth. Sadly, she doesn't have enough existing mouth tissue to complete it now. The doctor feels that for the time being we can get her fitted with an obturator, or retainer, which would temporarily close up the hole so that she can begin to learn proper speech and eating habits while we fatten her up. Then after she gains 10 pounds or so, she will most likely be a candidate for surgery. He said that basically they only have one 'chance' to do it right and he wanted to set her up to be successful. Right now she is about 11 pounds she needs to gain to even plot on the growth chart! We have a long ways to go. We also met a speech therapist who prepared us for the reality of longterm speech issues.

Meanwhile, her eating continues to be a struggle. It seems the more comfortable she gets around us, the more she refuses to eat. She does like it when we feed her like a baby so for now we have resorted to making airplane motions with the spoon to get her to eat. Sigh. I have never EVER had a kid that doesn't want to eat, so this is a foreign concept to me. I haven't wanted to weigh her because frankly I'm afraid of what I will find out! However, we have noticed her ribs seem to be filling out a little bit, and a couple of the kids have mentioned her tummy seems to be 'a little fatter'. Should I weigh her? Maybe I should.

I was a little stressed thinking about winter coming up and not knowing how to dress Zoya. Her waist is about a size 3 MONTHS and her length is a 3T. My sweet friend Melanie volunteered her sweet mother who custom made several pairs of pants for her. She was THRILLED to have pants that we didn't have to pin in the back or that she didn't have to constantly pull up. I honestly don't think this girl has ever even owned clothes that fit her right. It is going to be a good winter! Thanks Mrs. F.!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Knowing there is likely a mouth surgery in Zoya's near future, we have been trying to help her break her habit of sticking her ENTIRE fist in her mouth for extended periods of time. I had tried everything I could think of.

Leave it to a 12 year old boy to think of this:

Simeon tried to tell Zoya about mouth germs but obviously she has no idea what mouth germs are. Google to the rescue!

Now all we have to say is "Germs!" and she pulls her hand right out of her mouth. Thank you google.

I sure love these boys. I saw them walking back from throwing softballs to Nellie in the pond and I had to run grab my camera. 

I love how they purposely step in the horse manure just cause they're wearing boots and they CAN. A girl would never do that.

All weekend Hope kept reminding me it was "pippy day" at school on Tuesday. I finally informed her this morning that it is actually HIPPY day. She had so many questions about hippies. What did they wear? Were hippies nice to each other? Did they speak the same language that we do today? I found the cutest little hippy dress in a stash of our cousin's hand-me downs. Thanks Elle!

In the comments someone asked why Hope goes to school while the rest of the older kids homeschool. The answer to that is that she  has been watching her siblings go to school for so many years she wanted her turn. There was really no deep thought or prayer that went into the decision, she just was excited to go to kindergarten and so we let her. I am sure we may eventually homeschool her too. 

Today Ava wrote 29 Thank you notes to her Mini Laps Sponsors. She was cracking me up, she kept licking the markers in between cards. If you are getting a thank you note, I'm sure you are glad I told you that! It took 4 of us to write these notes (5 if you count the one taking the photos!)

Please forgive me if you donated and I have seen you or talked to you in the last few weeks and I haven't mentioned anything. We only got the list of donors TODAY. We were blown away at some of the names of people who donated. Some we hardly knew. Wow, you guys are the best.

The 3 littlest ones go to bed at 7:30ish and we try to have a peaceful 'family' time after that. Obviously the whole family can't be in on the 'peaceful' part of our family time, but this is one way we have tried to balance out everybody's needs. Sometimes it's chore night, sometimes family movie night, sometimes family devos or worship. Tonight it was family reading night.

Don't you miss the days when you could take your kids' pictures without them commanding you to not post them on facebook? It's a good thing my kids don't read my blog huh?

I picked this book for Liesel up at the library at 4:00 this afternoon.  By the time she went to bed tonight she was already 3/4 of the way through it. The girl amazes me. I was never a reader. I mean NEVER.

In fact she has inspired me to read Animal Farm and 1984 not because I HAVE to, but because I can. I wonder if I can make it through before it has to be returned to the library in 2 weeks.

Hope is reading Dick and Jane to her dad while he goofs around with his new iPad Zoya's iPad speech device. What a cheater!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A 200 Yard Joy Ride

I took this picture from the bus stop. As you can see the school is literally across the street from the end of our road. Kind of silly that I drive to the end of the road to wait for the school bus when I could just as easily drive across the street and pick Hope and Joseph up at the curb.

So why don't I just drive across the street to pick them up from the school?

Because I have a little boy who climbed up into the Fed Ex truck last week and wouldn't come out until I came in after him. And I have a little girl who loves her brother a lot and who volunteered to sit with him and supervise him. All for the joy of riding in a massive yellow vehicle......

......a 200 yard joy ride but a joy ride nonetheless.

Buddy Walk!!

We went to Buddy Walk on Saturday. Here are a few photos. I used to worry about how having a child/children with Down Syndrome would affect how people accepted us but I don't worry about that anymore.
 Justine and I couldn't resist taking a photo of all of our Reece's Rainbow kids in front of the Reece's Rainbow table. I love how Reece is peeking over their shoulders. Timothy came from Hong Kong earlier this year, and Joseph was Justine's Christmas Angel, before she knew he would be her neighbor right here in Oklahoma. Fascinating!

There were three young ladies with Down Syndrome up on the stage cheering alongside the cheerleaders. Sweet!

 Here are my two favorite buddies exchanging a kiss at the end of the day. What a fun time! Please join us next year!!

iPad communication device?

Which one of you told me about a communication device for speech impaired individuals? Was it for an iPad or iPhone? What is it called and how would I find it?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The fair and other random activities

I've been slow to get pictures  posted. These are from a couple of weeks ago. We went to the fair with our homeschool group.

It's always nice to be around other families to reassure me that silliness is very normal in boys.:)

Some have asked what we do with the little ones while the older ones are homeschooling. As I've mentioned before I have tried to narrow our curriculum choices down to ones that can be done mostly independently. Of course I'm always available to answer questions for the independent work and then we do some subjects as a family: Bible, History, Latin and Science. 

I've been working with Joseph and Zoya on fine motor stuff. As you can see Joseph knows how to color  but prefers to color directly on surfaces rather than paper. Here he is transferring water from one container using a bulb syringe. He loves this activity!

Once I started working with Zoya I realized how developmentally delayed she is. She will really benefit from therapy, speech and OT, and we are considering enrolling her in school so she can get some of the special services offered there too. She still scribbles very much like a 2 year old. I'm trying to teach her to draw circles and lines and color in the lines. She will get there, sweet girl.

Jude and Liesel wanted to do something nice for their music teacher who just moved into her new house. They made her a cake that said 'Welcome Home' and bought her a housewarming candle, with their own money. I thought it was really sweet and they thought of it all on their own. Mrs. Bass is a great teacher and I highly recommend her to anyone in the area. She teaches piano, voice, and guitar.

Joseph loves the cat but I'm afraid the feeling is not mutual. 

Last week I took the girls to lunch and shopping. Do you notice how Zoya plugs her nose while drinking from a straw? Her daddy taught her this. She has also learned that by plugging her nose she can make sounds she never could make before. Like "p" and "b" and "s".

While we were eating I noticed Hope's bottom tooth hanging by a thread. I asked her if I could wiggle it, knowing I could yank it right out without her even knowing. Yep it came right and and she was thrilled. She has been watching her siblings, including Ava, losing teeth for years, and it was finally her turn. Yipppeeeee. 

I've mentioned three of Joseph's things are
1. paper
2. water
3. being naked.

Imagine the fun he had doing all 3 at once!

Add motorcyles to that list. I thought he was trying to say 'mama' but it soon became clear that it was motorcycles he wanted.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Joseph's first day of school

We have gone back and forth and back and forth on whether to keep Joseph at home this year or go ahead and send him to school. On one hand, attachment and bonding is important. On the other hand, the boy needs lots of structure and when he gets bored you know some of the mischievousness that occurs. On one hand we really like having him around cause he's so sweet and a lot of fun. On the other hand, it is nearly impossible to effectively homeschool the others when watching Joseph is a non-stop responsibility. On one hand there are things we can teach at home but on the other hand there is so much more that the school can offer. Ultimately school was the winner.

I was a little distressed during his testing and his IEP meeting because he was not cooperative. Not one bit.  If they wanted him to drop the bean bag into the bucket, he would throw the beanbag across the room and dump the bucket upside down. If they wanted him to point to the ball, he slapped the book and laughed....Etc.....That kind of thing. He took off his shirt and ran around the room knocking things off the counters. When I tried to correct him he arched his back and hollered. And laughed. Yes, it was that kind of first impression. I knew he was just overstimulated and overwhelmed and excited, because, although he is generally 'busy', he is 10 times busier and more excitable in a new environment (as we learned the first day we met him, when he broke my necklace, pulled my hair, yanked out my earring, and pinched and slapped John's face. Did I never mention this?)

I tried to tell the teachers and therapists that they were seeing him at his worst, just as we had on that first day, and I promised he would be better after the first day or so. I prayed he didn't make a liar out of me when I dropped him off for the first time this morning. I was a little tearful and a little worried, but it ended up being a wonderful day. Here are Joseph's first-ever first-day-of-school pictures. Hope was SO excited and so proud to take him around and introduce her "baby brother" (ha! they are only 10 days apart) to her fellow classmates.

Here is his first teacher, Mrs. Riggs. She called me about 10:00 am to tell me he was being a perfect angel so far! She said he sat at his little desk ALL through circle time, calendar time and music, he rested his little chubby hands on his face and listened intently, and bobbed his head and clapped to the music. They were really impressed with his pencil grip and the fact that he was able to do his craft all by himself with no help. I knew he had it in him! I am so proud. Mrs. Riggs called me later in the afternoon and said he was still having a great day, and that everyone loved him. He went to PE and she said he LOVED the parachute. He will get physical, occupational and speech therapy at school, and he will attend certain classes with the typical kindergartners, which I am so happy about. He and Hope get to eat lunch together and play together at recess. A little birdie told me that Hope tried to hold his hand at recess and Joseph wouldn't let her, so she held on to his shirt instead. :) How I love them.

I remembered a very low point in my life when I cried my eyes out, the time I learned that Joseph had been deemed unadoptable by a judge, and we had to face the reality that when he turned six last month he would be transferred to a mental institution where he would spend the rest of his life. Remember that post? 

Well today not only is he NOT in a mental institution, he had a mama who picked him up from a real school where his teachers who already love him are determined to help him reach his full potential. His mama welcomed him home with a little snack, went through his little backpack, pulled out his little craft, and hung it on the refrigerator next to some photos of his brothers and sisters.

God is amazing and life is sweet.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

While we were eating....

Some have asked why we would adopt when we already had our hands full? And why would we adopt special needs when there are healthy ones available? And why do we go overseas when there are children in U.S. foster care that are available for adoption?

This poem and these videos say it all. Thanks to Meredith for allowing me to copy it.

While we were eating…
… they were hungry
While we were playing…
… they were restrained
While we were tucking our kids into bed…
… they were alone
While we turned up the heat…
… they laid in the icy cold
While we wrapped our children in blanket sleepers…
… they laid in their own excrement
While we sang songs and listened to music…
… they listened to the screams and cries of those around them
While we rocked our babies…
… they silently rocked themselves
While we hugged our kids…
… they scratched at their own faces and pulled their own hair for stimulation
While we cried over scraped knees…
… they moaned in their loneliness
While we brushed our daughters’ beautiful hair…
… they had their heads shaven to stave off the lice
While we fought off the flu with love and nourishment…
… they got the flu and went Home.
No longer suffering… but so many more still are.
In memory of those that have never felt the love of a family, but have passed away alone.

By: Meredith Cornish

For those who don't think adoption is a rescue mission, think again.

Monday, October 11, 2010

In Memory of Luke.....

Last week we received some very sad news. Frankly I haven't felt like blogging and I certainly can't blog about anything else before I dedicate this post to our dear friend, Luke.

John went to a men's Bible group a few years ago that met at Starbucks. He came home one night and said he met a young college student-- a funny, smart, super-nice guy who was far away from his family in California, and do you think we should invite him over for dinner one night? Sure, I said.

So in a week or so I met Luke for the first time. I think I made enchiladas. He did certainly have a sense of humor, an obvious zeal for life, good manners. He spoke about his wonderful family back home, and his dream of being a successful businessman. What struck me most about Luke was how easily he engaged in conversation with us and how quickly he connected with our kids. The kids LOVED him, and begged to have him over again. And so our relationship with Luke began. He started coming over to play Wii, or RockBand, and to watch movies. He helped John with projects around the house. And of course he would come over for home cooked meals and even brought a friend a time or two. He spent one Thanksgiving with us.

Luke told us that he loved hanging with our family because he too wanted a big family. :) He knew he would have to pick a special woman, one that could handle six kids (ha!) and so our family and our home soon became the 'ultimate test' for any girls he dated. Yes he brought three different girls over, and apparently they all failed the test because he remained single. :)

Luke was full of life and adventure. I am quite certain he managed to pack more fun and adventure in his 25 years than most of us can in a lifetime. Every time he came over he would tell the boys about his adventures rock climbing, mountain climbing, canoeing, fishing, cliff diving, etc..

Exactly one week ago Luke, who was in California visiting his parents, wrote on his facebook status: "Luke has a new favorite thing....Freediving for lobster at night!"

I commented: "Luke I think you were born in the wrong century."

How I wish I had left this comment instead: "Luke you are such an amazing guy. I love your zeal for life, your fearlessness, your freedom. I wish I had more of it. You are an incredible role model to my kids, a godly man with noble character. You are they kind of man I hope my daughters marry someday. You would be a wonderful father. We love having you in our lives, and we are so glad we have had the opportunity in this life to know you. Thank you for taking the time to take my boys fishing, and for letting them reel in the fish even when you were actually the one to catch it. Thank you for helping us build the fort. Liesel still talks about it. Thank you for tossing Hope up in the air and catching her, and dancing with her. You made her feel pretty special. Thank you for stroking Ava's bald head, and smiling at her, and telling her she is beautiful. That meant the world to me. Thank you for being a friend to John, and for telling me you like my cooking. You're a good friend and we are sure glad we have the privilege of knowing you."

That is what I wish I would have said.

Please friends, go call someone you love. Tell them you love them. Tell them what you love about them. Forgive them. Make plans to see them soon, Invite them for dinner this week. Write something nice on their Facebook wall......

You never know when it will be the last time.

We will never forget you, Luke Ausdemore.