Saturday, November 28

Around our household....

Someone lost something important, and in turn, got something fun.

Thanks to ABA, someone is playing appropriately with a toy that was once gathering dust.

And someone is....just being a stinker. (But hey, isn't that what almost two year olds are supposed to do?)

Thursday, November 26

Happy Thanksgiving!

One year ago, we had just received word that she was officially ours forever. We received our I-600 approval during a touchy time as the US was denying some of the babies referred from Vietnam.

This Thanksgiving, as I look at her little face, I am thankful that she is here with us and has easily assimiliated into our family as if she had always been here.

Thank you Lord, for IAAP, for the wonderful nannies who took good care of her in DaNang, and for an unnamed mother out there who unselfishly gave her child up, in hopes of a better life.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of your families!

Wednesday, November 25

Just keep skimmin'

Recently, I was at work talking about how life seemed so chaotic lately. One of the physical therapists at work laughed and said that I was "skimming", much like she was last year. I laughed, and we talked about how there are times as mothers that we can barely keep our heads afloat.

I've reflected on her comment a whole lot more lately, and she's right. I'm skimming. Barely.

I was reminded of this again today when I suddenly realized I had double booked myself for two very important events on the same date. In panic mode, I had to call and cancel one of them, and I couldn't help but feel totally frustrated and embarrassed.

Skimming isn't much fun these days. It is downright stressful as I find my head below water more than it is above. I'm reminded once again of the need for simplicity as well as the need to say no sometimes. Unfortunately, this isn't something that comes naturally to me, which I imagine is true for many moms.

This holiday season, I've decided to prayerfully reconsider my priorities in life and also simplify as much as possible.

What do you do in your life to keep things simple? What makes us so willing to continue to say "yes" when we really should say no?

Wednesday, November 18

Victory over Vegetables!

Will ate a kid-sized serving of these tonight:

For this:

I love you, ABA!!!

Tuesday, November 17

An adoptive family needs help!

The agency we used to adopt Norah continually has children with special needs on their website who need loving homes. Most recently, they have been looking for a family for a 13 year old boy (China) who will no longer be able to be adopted when he turns 14 in December. A miracle....there is a family who wants to adopt him!!

The family is adopting another girl with special needs as well and is now trying to raise funds to bring this boy home in such a short time. I've reposted their letter with permission below. If you can help them, please do so! Or spread the word!

Two weeks ago, on October 30, Dick and Cheryl Graham with Bringing Hope to Children advocated for a boy rapidly approaching his 14th birthday. We have been in process to adopt Christina DuJie since August and had just recently sent in our I800A after an extended wait for our Home Study. I don't usually open these emails, but was moved to see what the situation was. The moving has not stopped.

We are now PreApproved to adopt Zhang LuShi in addition to DuJie and are trying desperately to give this child a home. His 14th birthday is December 12th .... just 4 short weeks away!! China is willing to do whatever it takes to get this child a family. Our agency, CAWLI, is doing everything THEY can to expedite this process. And we see days flying by with little to no time to raise the money needed to bring these children home or give USCIS the time to process our case.

I am asking for TWO things from this fantastic adoptive community:

First - PRAY for God's will to be accomplished - if He is pleased to place LuShi in our home, then He can pave the way through this seemingly IMPOSSIBLE short time period to do so. Pray for USCIS to be moved by compassion or whatever it takes to truly push this file through. China is willing to have everything else in fax only and even to let us travel without TA in hand.

Second - help us is ANY way feasible and within your power to get to China and give this boy a chance. There is a chipin on and a purse fundraiser (done by the lovely Kelly R!) at . We could use frequent fly miles to help get us there and back or help with our stay at the hotel. Spread the word to any groups you belong to!

LuShi is from Linfen, Shanxi and has urinary incontinence and was diagnosed to have a tethered cord 2 years ago (tho he has no history of spina bifada). He has only been allowed to go to school the last few years after LWB stepped in to support the cost of adult incontinence pads. There is no surgeon in China that feels skilled enough to do his surgery. He is nearly 14 and I am sure growing like any other 13 year old boy!! That cord could snap at any time, leaving him in a worse place than he is already in.

John and I are willing to do whatever the Lord desires regarding LuShi - we want to give him the opportunity for family, support, love, expert medical care and the chance to be told there is a God who loves him very much. Could you or your coworkers be looking for a great compassionate giving idea for the Christmas season? What a gift this would be for LuShi who has been overlooked for far too long. And what a story to tell him in future days of the support and love of a huge adoption community who KNOW what a true miracle this would be!!

Friday, November 13

Everybody has one.

A coping mechanism, I mean.

In situations where I find myself stressed, I generally do one of two things: hop on the internet, either to talk with friends or research OR wind down with a glass of wine.

At times, both are helpful, but sometimes, neither one is healthy.

Parents everywhere, and especially parents of children with special needs, need to find a way to relieve the stress.

How do you cope with the daily grind?

On that note, I'm off for a weekend away with my a winery. Have a great weekend!

Monday, November 9

I am thankful for....

Grandparents who offer to watch our children so that my husband and I can spend time together.

Orphans who are now surrounded by love instead of in an orphanage.

Time with neighbors who are like family, for better or for worse.

Health and happiness.

A husband who takes interest in the kids' daily lives and knows just what they need at the right time.

Three wonderful children, uniquely made by God, who give me cause for laughter every day.

What are you thankful for this November?

Friday, November 6

Christmas gifts for teachers and therapists

I'm gathering ideas for Christmas. With Will's teachers, bus drivers, and therapists, there are a LOT of people to give to. In our family, we choose to give some sort of token of appreciation to almost everyone that works with Will as we know what they do requires a lot of time and effort.

That said, there's no way we could afford to buy gifts for them all. My mom and I have started a tradition each year. Instead of going shopping on Black Friday, we use the day to make handmade gifts...lots of give to these people as well as other friends and co workers.

Some of the gifts we've made in the past include handmade soap as well as lavender eye pillows.

This year, some of the ideas we've tossed around include beaded bookmarks, homemade sugar scrubs, and potholders for some special people.

I personally like these ornaments too. Last year, to thank teachers at the end of the school year, we made cookies that I let Caroline draw on. Always a good option as well. (Though I'd advise taking out the black marker....that one got kind of messy!)

I'd love to know....what kinds of gifts do you give to teachers and therapists while still keeping costs down?

Thursday, November 5

Sometimes, my heart aches.

This morning I took my youngest to an appointment at a satelite of our children's hospital. There, in the waiting room with us, was a little girl who clearly was asian.

I struck up a conversation with the girl's mother because I first noticed her little girl looked like mine and then secondly because I recognized a familiar scenario. Mom was telling the little one to "fix her feet" as she W sat, and helped her to wave to Norah and another little one running circles around the waiting area.

I quickly realized that the girl's mother didn't know her little one was developmentally delayed before she brought her home. Yes, she knew medical issues were present, but the extent of this child's needs was clearly not apparent before she came home.

My heart ached for this mother. I know what it is like to be at that exact point....trying to process all of the information that is bombarding you at the same time you are trying so desperately to mend a broken heart.

I found myself on the other side today. This time, I had only my littlest one with me. She's able bodied and bright, talking and exploring the world around her. I watched as the girl's mother took careful note of Norah's age and her actions. I saw the look on her face.

Before I could tell her anything else, her daughter's name was called, and she was gone. I wanted so much to tell her about Will, to tell her that things will get better and that life will be okay.

But how do you really tell someone this? And will they listen? I had people try back when Will was younger and newly diagnosed. At that particular moment, it fell on deaf ears. Like anything else in life, it is a process. A process that involves many ups and many downs.

I'm in a better place now. Just as quickly as the sadness came five years ago, it vanished. Life is really okay. There is peace and happiness and gratitude, where there was once only sadness and worry.

As I left this morning, I did the only thing I could do for her. As I bent down to kiss my youngest daughter, I prayed for the girl's mother and asked that her process be quick and her lows be few.

Thank you, Lord, for the blessings you have shown in my own life. I am forever humbled and grateful.

Wednesday, November 4

Home ABA: Coloring

Today Will and I worked on a new lesson during ABA time: coloring. Doesn't sound like a big deal, but 1) it is an OT goal on his current IEP and 2) it is a simple task demand that accomplishes some OT at the same time.

I happened to have this book that I bought last year when his IEP was written. It never got used...Will could have cared less. Guess what? It was perfect for ABA. It has simple pictures, like a picture of a carrot, with a white circle in the middle. The child is supposed to find the color that matches and then fill in the white circle to match the rest of the picture. I would imagine you could make these with your computer fairly easily. I plan to when these pages run out.

sample page from Kumon

At any rate, it worked beautifully. He was playing with a favorite toy at the table, so we switched out the favorite toy for the coloring. Once he finished the coloring, he got the toy back to play with. He sat today at the table almost the entire 30 minute session! He's made a lot of progress already!

Special Exposure Wednesday

She insisted on wearing this to walk her older sister to the bus stop.

Yeah. I think that just about sums up her personality.

To see more adorable kiddos, visit Special Exposure Wednesday by clicking here.

For those who didn't already know, Norah was brought home via a special needs adoption. Interested in more info? Some kiddos in need of homes listed here, at Bringing Hope to Children. You'll need to sign up to be able to view the SN list.