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!)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Theo's been home for 10 days now...



....and we love him more than ever.   Little man is truly and completely awesome.   He's a fireball of energy, which means he fits right in with his big brothers.   We're having a lot of fun getting to know him (and him us), and the transition home has been smoother than we ever anticipated.   

My biggest fears when preparing to bring Theo home were food (would he eat what we normally eat?  If not, what WOULD he eat?!?), communication (was the language barrier going to be a huge hurdle?   Would we be able to know what was wrong or what he needed?), and bonding (more so for me - Heidi - than Mike, since I wasn't traveling to pick him up and would be starting a bit behind when he did finally get home).   I can honestly say that all three of these have been so much easier than I expected.



Food-wise, little man loves to eat.   Especially sweet things (mostly fruit, since we don't really keep any processed foods in the house.   Fresh fruits, though?  We have a lot of those, and he LOVES them).    We've only had him turn his nose up at things that are more of a "Mexican" flavour - anything with a taco/fajita seasoning to it he hasn't liked.    Everything else though?   He's loved it.   Some consistencies he's not a big fan of, but the times are few and far between when he turns his nose up at something that we are serving.

Language?   Let's just say Theo has no problems expressing himself, haha.   He signs some, which has been super helpful (I took ASL in college, and we've been able to piece together enough common signs or rudimentary signs to communicate pretty easily).   He's a VERY smart little boy, too, and I usually only have to show him a new sign once before he'll start using it on a regular basis.  (Today, I taught him "coffee" at breakfast.  I couldn't help myself, haha.   When I made a second cup after lunch to enjoy during his nap (my routine - drinking a second cup of coffee during naptime/quiet time), he pointed to my cup and repeated the coffee sign to me, unprovoked.   I'm telling you, this boy is SMART!).  

Bonding is going so much better than I expected.  For the first week, he pretty much stuck like glue to Mike (or Rascal #1 if he was around).   I worried that he wasn't going to trust me, or really bond to me.   This week, though, we've purposefully made it so that he and I are alone together quite a bit (we have a babysitter this summer who is coming and taking the other kids on field trips and doing things like the beach or the library or gymnastics....basically, places that we would do in normal circumstances), and he has to rely on me to meet his basic needs (food, comfort, things like that).    I can honestly say that I think I'm enjoying our one-on-one time as much as he appears to be.   I forgot how much fun it was to play with a toddler!   It's been a long time since I've had a little one that's Theo's age/ability, and I am thoroughly enjoying the simple things:  building block towers, playing with cars, playing dress up (he LOVES dress up...especially if I take pictures and then show him so he can see what he looks like!), singing goofy songs, playing with bubbles or with a water table.    Yesterday, he gave me a kiss, unprovoked, for the first time as I put him down for his afternoon nap.  It was a great moment!   Tonight, I ran out to the store to get a few things, and he greeted me at the back door (where the garage is), with a huge grin and a "HI!", and then followed me around, smiling and babbling, and literally holding on to my skirt as I put the groceries away.   I'm a happy mommy.  :)  He's very definitely warming up to me and recognizing me as Mommy, it feels like.    

This weekend is Theo's first Fourth of July in the United States.   The weather is supposed to be perfect.    I think we might take our whole gang to a parade and celebrate, finally, as a family of 7. 

God is so good.


He LOVES putting anything on his head.  Hat?  Yep.  Puzzle bucket?  Yep.  Mommy's hat?  Definitely yep.  A bedsheet, to wear as a cape?  Yep.   A toy storage basket?   Apparently yep.
Helping his big brothers put together a bird house to hang on our window.   His job was to read us the directions, and he took it VERY seriously,  haha

He was teaching me how to draw.  ;)
Playing "drums" with his big brother




Sunday, June 29, 2014

Checking in



Good morning, y'all.

Baby girl had me up at 5:30 this morning, so I thought I'd take the chance to update you while everyone is sleeping still.  It's been a bit tricky to get to a computer over the past week, so I figure I should probably take advantage of the opportunity - who knows when another one will arise!

Theo made it home (with Mike and Rascal #1) on Monday afternoon - we were pulling into our driveway at 2 pm.   He had a blast playing with his brothers that afternoon, showing us what toys he'd brought home and goofing off.

The next day, the circus began.   We were moving into our new house, about 20 minutes away.   At 9 am, the moving truck arrived, and we got to work.    A babysitter took the oldest kids to their gymnastics practice, and then came back to help me with the three younger ones (rascal #3, baby girl, and Theo).   We locked ourselves into the playroom while Mike and the movers loaded everything onto the moving truck - we thought about leaving and completely getting out of the way, but I wanted Theo to be able to "check in" with Mike as much as he needed to, since he'd already bonded quite a bit to Mike at this point.  

So, now we're in the new house and are slowly getting settled and unpacked.  Trying to take it easy and focus more on the kids and family than the moving boxes - that's hard for us!  Normally, we're completely (and I mean COMPLETELY - no boxes left at all) unpacked within days of moving.   Not so, this time.   Our focus has been playing and cuddling with the rascals, especially Theo.  

Settling in with Theo seems to be going well.  He had an amazing foster family in his country, so I'm expecting we'll hit a grieving period where he will be missing them and life with them.  This week, though, has been wonderful.   Poor little guy has been fighting off a cold, but other than that, he's happy and eating/drinking/sleeping/playing wonderfully.   He LOVES his big brothers, and has thoroughly enjoyed playing in our pool with all of them.  He's got a special bond to Rascal #1, but seems to be bonding with the other two just fine.

He is definitely more attached to Mike than to me, but I expected that after not traveling to his country to bring him home.  He prefers Mike over me, BUT he doesn't refuse me.   He'll let me care for him, play with him, and we've even had quite a few cuddling sessions.   I was worried about how he'd respond to me once coming home, and I can honestly say it's gone better than I anticipated.   We will get there....

Yesterday was our 11th wedding anniversary, and so we all went out for our first "family of 7" outing - ice cream at a local ice cream parlour.   I can honestly say that it may have been one of the most enjoyable anniversary celebrations ever - saying Theo "liked" ice cream might just be an understatement.   Every single bite was accompanied with a "MMMMMMM!!!" and a *huge* giggle and smile.   The rest of us could hardly finish our own ice creams because of all of the laughter.  

We are truly blessed.
Playing with water while Mommy makes dinner

Colouring at the ice cream parlour



A little early-morning tower building with brothers

Colouring during moving day

Enjoying the pool with Daddy

Monday, June 23, 2014

He's home!


It took longer than it was supposed to, thanks to a canceled flight at the very last minute (seriously, I was loading the other kids into the car, after having woken them up at 11 pm when Mike called to tell me the news).

After some negotiations, the airline put him and the boys up in a hotel and rebooked them for a flight for this morning out of New York and into Maine.    I think, even though it was frustrating and anti-climactic and stressful last night, that it really worked out for the best.   All three travelers were able to get a great night of sleep and show up in Maine rested, bathed/showered, and feeling a bit more "human" overall instead of stumbling in after 40 hours of traveling around the world.

And now, I have a toddler sleeping in the crib that we've had waiting for him for over two years now. 



He seems to be responding well to all of us - he's interacting, eating/drinking, and playing.  He's very much in love with his big brothers, not too sure about what exactly his little sister IS (today's her one month birthday, so she's still pretty tiny!), and seems very comfortable in his new home.

Over the next little bit, we're going to be "cocooning" our family - laying low and spending time bonding and getting to know each other.  I probably won't be updating all that often here or on FB, but will try to come back and let everyone know how we are doing at least occasionally!!


I'm currently uploading pictures and video from today's homecoming!  Check them out!!