Saturday, September 20, 2014

It's been awhile!

I'm sorry, y'all.  I'm a bad blogger, apparently.  There was a time in my life where I was able to blog on a very regular basis......but that time has come and gone, I guess!  

Things have gotten pretty crazy here, when it comes to filling our days.  Add that to the fact that I downgraded my cell phone back to a "dumb" phone, and I'm finding myself online less and less recently.   That's not necessarily a bad thing, I've discovered!  I've been having a LOT more fun with the kids - fun that I didn't even realize that I was missing by wasting it staring at a tiny glowing screen.   

...but it does mean that getting online to blog is a bit harder.  It takes a more concerted effort, I guess you could say!   Right now, the house is quiet, other than the sound of the bread machine getting tomorow's picnic lunch started, and the dryer and the washing machine helping me get caught up on chores.   I've got a hot cup of peppermint tea next to the computer, and I'm determined to give you all an update.   

It has been a busy month.   I mentioned in my last post that we had started schooling again.  We're a homeschooling family, and I basically just doubled my students.  Instead of just schooling Rascals 1 and 2....Rascal 3 joined the ranks as a kindergartener, and Theo is joining in with some preschool work and activities.   My days are pretty full with moving from one kid to another, while caring for Baby Girl.   Just schooling and trying to keep on top of the daily chores of feeding, clothing, and caring for a young, larger family takes up the majority of our days.  

That being said, life is settling into our "new normal" much more quickly than we had anticipated.   A lot of that has to do with Baby Girl's temperament (she's a FANTASTIC baby - sleeps, eats, laughs.  She just loves attention and eats it up.   Considering that her big brothers are totally and completely in love with her....attention is never something that she's starving for) and Theo's adjustment into our family.   He seems to have been VERY well prepared by his foster family for the transition into our family.  I keep waiting for the "honeymoon" period to be over (as everyone has warned us would happen), but we're going on three months now, and......nothing.   He just seems to have fit seamlessly into our family, like he has always been here.   He and his siblings love each other (especially Baby Girl. She adores him), the three "big" things that I was worried about (language, bonding, and food) have all seemingly taken care of themselves.   He's picking up ASL incredibly quickly and his screaming (it's very common for kids with Down Syndrome to shout a lot - it's a very common way for them to express themselves.  Theo was/is no different) has drastically decreased.  He's starting to mimic our sounds, including very clearly saying "car" the other day, while signing it in ASL.   There are very few foods now that he turns his nose up at - he definitely has some favourites, but I'm not at all worried about his nutritional intake and diet variety.   He's less picky than some of his brothers!   Bonding is going extremely well - I (Heidi) am definitely his main source of comfort.   (I have to say, he's pretty much turning into a Mama's Boy.  I love our little man so much!).

We've started the long, busy process of doctor's appointments and therapy evaluations.   He's seen our family physician for a physical.   He's going to see a pediatric ophthalmologist this week.   He had his physical therapy evaluation last week.   Speech therapy, audiology, occupational therapy evaluations and a development evaluation are all within the next couple of weeks.  Once all of those happen and the reports are written up, we'll officially sit down and put together his education plan with the school that we have been working with.  It's a school specifically geared toward children with Down Syndrome, and we're really excited to get him started.   As hard as it will be for me to leave him at school (I think it's honestly going to be harder for me than it was for ANY of the other kids, I'm so attached to him, haha), he gets so happy and excited when we're there for appointments now that I really think he will thrive at this school.  

He seems to be growing in leaps and bounds recently.   He blows me away daily with the things he can do, or has learned to do even in the three short months that he's been home (his ASL use has really blown my mind, as well as his gross motor skills).  He's a comedian and everyone who meets him walks away with a smile on their face.    He has brought pure joy to our family in the past three months.   Watching other people interact with him (and fall in love with him) has been one of the highlights of our life recently - he brings so much laughter and love into a room.

I have to get going - the bread machine is waiting for me to finish the work (it was just doing the dough part for me....).    Here are a few snapshots from recent days:

He came home with a bunch of photo albums and picture books from various places/people in his home country.  He LOVES to get them out and look through them with us

Definitely a Mama's Boy.   Who loves to cuddle

He's definitely a comedian....and loves to play, dance, and sing.   This was a "concert" he put on in our living room the other morning
We've had to spend a bit of time at our old house over the past two weeks, meeting various contractors to complete projects before we close on the sale this coming week.  One nice thing about homeschooling - schoolwork can come with us!

Thank you all for helping to make this possible and for praying for him and us through the process.   Please keep us in your prayers as we continue transitioning into our "new normal", if you don't mind.  

Sunday, September 7, 2014

It's the first week of school...

....and all through the house....

Okay, I was going to try and do a whole post in the rhythm of the Night Before Christmas, but,'s late and I used up all my creative energy planning and prepping for school this week!   Maybe next post.....

We did start full days of school here at the Circus this last week - we'd been doing half days (math and reading, really) for the past two weeks as a bit of a trial.  We are a homeschooling family, and with all of the changes in our home over the past few months, I wanted to kind of experiment with our schedule and routine to try and find the best fit for schooling with the new additions in the family!   By this past week, I felt confident enough to add in the rest of the subjects (to give you an idea, Rascal #1 studies 9 subjects, so there was quite a bit to work in!!) and start the school year.    It went well - even Theo had a blast with his little school routine.   I'm working with him on just preschool basics and motor skills, really.   We've got an appointment for evaluations at a local preschool that specializes in Down Syndrome, but that's not for another month, so until then, I'm doing what I can at home with him.   Our ultimate goal is to bring him home completely eventually, but for now, he needs the therapy options they can offer him integrated with his academics.  

Theo's settling in really well.  We had our first virus since he's come home (due to his medical history, illnesses will probably be a regular occurrence, although we're hoping his immune system will eventually re-build itself), so that kind of knocked us down for a few days.   He was a trooper, though, and didn't get as sick as I was expecting him to get.  Very grateful for that!  

This little boy has made our home so much happier - he's so much fun to have around.   He's picking up ASL like crazy, and communicating is really going well.  His receptive language is really good, so it's really just when he's trying to tell us something that we run into stumbling blocks.   Even then, though, as he's picking up the signs things are getting much easier.  

Bonding is still seeming to be going really well.  He's totally turning into a complete Mama's boy.  I think he knows that he melts my heart completely and is using it to his advantage, haha.  

Alright, tomorrow is a big day here with lots of things to do, so I need to sign off and get to work on preparing/packing our things!   One of these days, I'll write up all of the things I have swirling around in my brain about this experience and Theo himself, but for now.......will pictures suffice?  


It's blueberry season in Maine, so we took a field trip and picked just a few (10!!) pounds in a bout 20 minutes, haha

finger painting and enjoying the beautiful weather

He insisted that this was where his legs belonged today while we were enjoying the sunshine

Matching colours and practicing his fine motor skills (two-finger pinching/picking up)

He's decided the little dog (a puggle) is his new best friend.  The big dog (an Old English sheepdog) is still not allowed to get near him, although I caught him petting her earlier today, so we're making progress!
another school time project - he threads the pipe cleaners through the colander (and he also has large pony beads to thread on the pipe cleaner, they're just not in this picture)