Friday, August 22, 2014

A whirlwind of a week...



I mentioned in our last post that Mike had some vacation time last week - it wasn't a whole week of vacation, but two four-day weekends.   We didn't really have enough time to go do anything extravagant (and honestly, I don't think we'd want to, anyway - we're still adjusting to two new kiddos!), but summertime in Maine is an amazing time.   Every weekend, there are 2 or 3 different festivals or fairs or events going on that you can choose from.   There's a reason why it is known as "Vacationland."  ;)


Before I throw pictures of our adventures at you, I should give you a quick update of things here at home.   In a nutshell, they're great.  Busy busy busy.  But great.   Adding a toddler and a baby into the mix means that I'm pretty much on the go all day, every day, but it's a really good busy.   I'm really behind on emails and phone calls and blogging (sorry!), but I'll settle into a routine with those things soon enough.    Baby Girl is settling into a napping schedule, which will really help the way the household runs.   Theo, I've discovered, LOVES routine.   We do the same things in the same order every day, and he gets such a kick out of knowing exactly what is coming next and telling us that it needs to be done.  Little Man definitely likes being in charge!

Let's see, what other updates are there?   Theo has started mimicking my speech, so I think that as soon as we get can him into speech therapy, he's going to take off.  Last week, he pretty clearly told me "up" and "more" while signing the appropriate signs at the same time.   I was pretty happy to hear that!   Today, we had another big breakthrough when he finally used the correct ASL sign for "dog."  It doesn't sound like much, but he's not a fan of dogs and his main method of communicating with our dogs was to yell.   A lot.   Coming to me and signing "dog" was a huge step in communication!!

Alright, I need to get back to doing as many chores as possible while everyone is sleeping (ahh, the life of a mom.  Isn't it glamorous?? haha), so without any further delay.....here is a Theo photo dump!

One of our stops over vacation - a hot air balloon festival.  The kids could go inside one of the balloons and play with beach balls.  Theo, our ball fanatic, LOVED it
One of the other festivals that we went to - the Maine Highland Games.   Theo seemed a bit confused, but had fun, just the same!
Another family fun night on vacation - tickets courtesy of the public library summer reading program and little boys who were VERY motivated to earn them by reading lots and lots this summer!

I caught the silly boy using the oven as a mirror and styling his hair with a comb while making dinner last night


I was putting stuff away in the bathroom cupboards while Rascal #1 took a bath.  Next thing I knew, Theo had climbed into the bathtub, fully clothed.  Little sneaky boy!  haha

Enjoying the sunshine with a little water painting


Monday, August 11, 2014

Theo meets the ocean....

...the Atlantic Ocean, that is.

Mike is on vacation for part of this week, so we decided to take a quick little trip to our favourite beach for a family picnic dinner tonight after the biggest rascals finished gymnastics practice.    It was a beautiful night - cool and sunny - and an amazing sunset.

I'd taken Theo to the beach twice before this, and he'd gradually warmed up to the idea of swimming in a lake or playing on the sand over the past two trips.   Tonight, however, he was ALLLLLLL over the idea of playing in the water or digging in the sand.   Little Man had a blast!  Here's the picture proof:

Finishing up his snack and surveying the scene

Venturing out to the water with his big brother

I'd LOVE to know what he's thinking at this moment.  Such a sweetie.

I gave Rascal #1 the camera and told him to have fun....this is what he came back with.  I love it!


Things are still going really well here - it feels like Theo has always been here!    It happened twice today where he echoed the English words I was speaking to him - I was shocked.   The words ("more" and "up") aren't sounds that I've heard him babble before.  He's signed the words to me in the past couple of weeks, but today was the first time he attempted to say the word along with the sign.   This little guy is brilliant, I'm telling you!

Love this little guy so much!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Our little boy....

.....loves to help his big brothers...

We started school this week, at the request of the rascals.  Here's Theo helping his big brother with his math worksheet

... loves to be goofy....

Big Brother (rascal #1) was making us peanut butter cookies, and Theo was positive that the mixing bowl was a helmet in disguise


......loves doing projects and crafts....
Rainy day crafts:  making "stained glass windows"  (we've been stuck in this rainy pattern recently, so we've been doing LOTS of crafts the past week or so!)

The finished products.  Theo's are the heart and the "T"


.....and last but not least....is fitting in just fine.  
Another rainy day activity:  camping in the living room and settling in with popcorn and a movie


*******
Question for parents of little ones who need glasses - Theo snapped the nose piece off of his current pair of glasses.  I've glued it back together temporarily, until we can get in to see the eye doctor (the prescription he came home with is expired, so I'm not sure I can get another pair in without a visit).   I'm leaning toward ordering a pair of Tomato glasses for him, since he has a super flat bridge to his nose, but I haven't found anyone out there yet who has used them and can offer me a review.  Any of you readers out there have experience with this brand?   I'd love to hear about it!  Thanks!



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

One month post-homecoming update


It's been exactly one month since Theo came home.   So much has happened in that month!!  We're supposed to have our one month post-placement visit tonight, but weather might dictate otherwise.  It's crazy hot and humid here in Maine, and there are some severe storms heading our way.   Our social worker has to drive over an hour to get to us and she's hesitant about being out on the road with those storms hitting.  I don't blame her - flash flooding is nothing to laugh at!   

I was going to update after our visit, but with that being up in the air, I thought I would take this minute to go ahead and update now.   Theo is doing fantastically well.  He seems to know that Mike and I are Mommy and Daddy - coming to us for comfort and any thing else he might need.   We still have a lot of work to do when it comes to bonding, of course (we have years to make up!!), but I'm incredibly grateful for the amount of ground we've been able to cover with our relationships already so far!  He LOVES his big brothers and no longer seems hesitant around his baby sister (picture proof below).  

He came home almost fully potty trained, and I'm happy to report that he has not really regressed on that front (yay!).   He's eating and sleeping wonderfully, except for food that isn't prepared at home (we only have eaten out once so far, but he wouldn't eat at the restaurant.  I've ordered take out a couple of times, but he hasn't really liked anything that I didn't prepare myself).  That's fine with me - we probably could use an excuse to shave going out to eat out of our budget!  

Mike has gone back to work, and Theo seems to have adjusted to that change well, too.  He's VERY happy to see Mike when he gets home, but he's totally comfortable with me during those work hours, too.   We'd worked out a back up plan for an extended stay at home for Mike if Theo needed it, but he really is adjusting so very well to our family.  He's a total gem, this little man of ours!!

We're all getting better at communicating, which is great.   Theo is quickly picking up ASL signs, to the point of being able to specify just what he wants to eat and drink (as opposed to just saying he was hungry or thirsty).   He really is an amazingly smart little boy!

We toured a local school last week for Theo.  They definitely have room for him, so now we're just trying to figure out the best way to go about arranging the different therapies that he'll need at that school (OT, PT, speech, for example).   There are two different options (through the school district or through our insurance), and we're trying to figure out the definite pros/cons of each.   We'd had a general idea before Theo came home (as we'd researched all of this during our preparation for him coming home), but now that we know his exact needs and abilities, we're able to get a better sense of what a typical day would look like for him.  (his evaluations and medical charts weren't able to be shared with us until he actually came home, so we just had a general idea of his abilities before that).   He LOVED the school, and we were really impressed with it, too.   The director herself met with us and walked through the different options and services available to Theo and he just loved her.   He had so much fun that he was asleep in his car seat before we even left the parking lot!!

The baby is stirring from her nap, so I need to wrap this up, but here is another round of pictures to enjoy!   Thank you for continuing to pray for us!!


He LOVES playing with water.  We go through about 4 clothing changes a day because he's constantly getting wet! 



Exploring the ocean with Papa and big brother

Playing with plastic cups while I make dinner



Giving baby sister a kiss


dueling cameras


Exploring the ocean with cousins and brothers


Family photo from last weekend at Church

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"Theo-angelo?"



We tried painting with water colours today while the baby was napping and the big boys were at gymnastics practice.  


To say he enjoyed it would be a bit of an understatement.  He LOVED it.   I had a whole other project prepped in case this one didn't work, and we never got to it.   That'll be tomorrow's fun!

Love this little guy so much!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

We scheduled our one month post-placement visit...


...it's in a little over a week.  And it's exactly one month from the date we picked Mike, Rascal #1, and Theo up at the airport.

I can't believe it will have been a month at that point!  It seems like time has gone by so quickly since Theo came home.  And yet, I honestly have a hard time believing it's "only" been a month - it feels like he's been here for years.   He seems to be adjusting really well and has bonded pretty quickly to me (Heidi) the most, it seems.   He's stopped preferring Mike and will go to us both pretty equally, at times turning to me more frequently, even.   I'm thinking he's more comfortable with females?   For a good chunk of his life (while he was in a hospital setting), his primary care givers were all female.  Even after that time, his school teachers (where he spent all day, 5 days a week) were female.   It's been an interesting process to watch.


Life has been hectic and absolutely crazy the past three weeks.  In addition to Theo's homecoming (which fell shortly on the heels of Little Girl's birth, remember.  She was exactly 1 month old on his "coming home" day), we moved into our new house.   We've been spending a lot of time unpacking and getting settled, more slowly than we've ever done before during a move.  My goal is to unpack two or three boxes a day during naptime, but to focus on the kids (especially Theo) during the rest of the day.   It's meant that things have been getting unpacked and homes found for them MUCH more slowly than ever before.   It also means that I haven't really had a chance to get on the computer to update you guys, or even respond to messages or emails.  I'm trying, but I'm embarrassingly behind!   The new house has been fantastic for us.  It's a ranch style house (there is a loft, but it's not part of the main house), so it's more accessible for Theo than our old house - there are very little stairs that he needs to climb on a regular basis.   The pool has been great for him - he loves it and it's a fun bonding experience for all of us.   It's an open floor plan for the main part of the house, so he can pretty much see all of us, no matter where he is.   We're also in a neighbourhood instead of in the middle of the woods, so we've been able to take lots of walks and play outside quite a bit (hardly any bugs!  Yay!).

We did take Theo (well, all the kids!) to our favourite lake for a "beach day" this week.  It's one of our favourite things to do during the summers, and since we live in Maine, there is no shortage of amazing lakes/oceans and beaches to go to!   He was a bit overwhelmed, and stuck pretty close to me in the sun tent, but did venture out to play in the sand and wade in the water briefly.    He didn't hate it, so I'm hoping that later this summer, we'll have a few more beach days to enjoy as a family!

We're also all picking up more and more ASL to help with communication.   This ASL browser is open on the computer pretty much all of the time, and we all have been going to look up more and more signs as we come across things that we want to express more easily.   Last night, Theo learned "ice cream," haha.   He thoroughly enjoyed it, too!  


As I said in this blog post, my three biggest concerns (food, language, bonding) seem to be progressing MUCH better than anticipated.   Honestly, our biggest struggle has been with the adjustment for the older three rascals.   I think while they *knew* that it would be different with basically a toddler in the house, it's been a bit of a shock to them as they realize just what that means.  Their biggest struggle has really been with playtime.   They're being pushed outside of their comfort zone with patience and communication as they try to adjust to having a little boy who wants to play with them but can't quite grasp the rules of the game that's being played, or a little boy who wants to "help" with the Lego building and accidentally breaks the creation in the process, or a little boy who wants to do everything that they do, but can't quite do it yet.   It's different than gradually adjusting to a new sibling - one who gradually gets into things and slowly starts wanting to play.   This was a "pulling-off-the-bandaid" kind of adjustment, and it's taking the older kids a bit of time to adjust.   They're already finding a balance (Legos are for Theo's naptime, for example), but the first few days that Theo really started to interact and not just shadow Mommy and/or Daddy were frustrating for the rascals.  It's good for them, though.  It's forcing them to think creatively ("How can I adjust this game so that Theo can also play?") and work on their patience.   These are skills that will drastically help them as adults, well, as kids even, really.


I need to get some chores done while both Theo and Little Girl are sleeping, so I should sign off now, but I'll leave you with some fun pictures from the past few days.   

Thank you holding us in prayer - please continue to as we continue our adjustment as a family of 7!



Fort building with moving boxes


goofing off


dry erase markers + sliding glass door = lots of fun!


Playdoh with big brother as we wait for dinner to cook


Music class with Mommy  ;)


Thinking about going in the lake - not quite sure yet

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy first Fourth of July, Little Man!

(I can't wait until his face can be shown to you guys!   Maybe next year...and maybe then Baby Girl won't sleep through the photo shoot!)