Look at the beautiful family God gave us!


Marshall (yes, he's wearing pink)





Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Christmas-y post

I know your Christmas tree is probably just as pretty, but I always take pictures of the tree every year.

I think it's safe to say that they don't really get it-- the whole gift unwrapping thing.  Maybe next year...

Playing with a toy that's already been unwrapped, even though it was someone else's present, while ignoring his own present.  You can see that they don't get it yet.

This one was the most willing to do the work of unwrapping...

Starting to get the hang of it.

"Oh man!  Who's going to clean up this mess?"

Enjoying Christmas dinner.  No, we don't ignore the kids while we're eating...

He gave this particular meal a rare thumbs up, which was good, because Daddy slaved all day over a hot stove to prepare the feast.

My son-in-law doing one of his favorite activities-- eating!

She:  "Let's be friends!"
He:  "Let's not, and say we did!"

My adorable girl, all grown up!

"I'll give a little smile, since you bounce me the way I like."

She:  "Let's be friends!"
He:  "Listen, like I told the other sister before..."

This little peach would love to be friends, and you don't even have to try very hard.

See what I mean about pretty?  I could just stare at this picture for hours...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A post with writing

A few people have commented that all I do lately is show pictures, and write very little--only the captions for the pictures. The reason I do that is because those are the kinds of blogs I like the best--heavy on pictures, and light on writing. I admit it; I'm greedy about looking at pictures of other people's kids, especially if they're adopted, and especially if I can watch how they change over several months. When we were first considering adopting kids with Down syndrome, I really wanted to see pictures of kids with Down syndrome. I wanted to familiarize myself with their unique aspects as much as possible.

We talk about Down syndrome all the time around here, and the more we talk about it, the less strange it feels. The funny thing, though, is that as much as we talk about it, I almost never think about it. I mean, it's always there, on the fringes of my mind, but I really don't think about it that much. I've been trying to teach the kids lots of things, and most of the time they just look at me, so it feels like nothing's happening, but then I think about the people with DS that I see out and about, who are talking, or working, or whatnot, and I know that it's not nothing happening. I don't know what it is, because this is the first time I've experienced this, but I know it's not nothing. Okay, so that's the main time that I do think about DS.

Back to blogging, I still like to look at pictures of other people's kids, but I like to look at pictures of my own kids even more. This is just like the olden days, because when my other kids were little, I loved to just sit and watch them. They were like television to me--completely absorbing. The beauty of my own children astounded me at all times. The crazy thing is that I'm experiencing that all over again. I love to watch these kids, too, and am amazed by their beauty. In the beginning, I felt a little guilty, because I felt that I was taking the three most beautiful children from the orphanage.
So that is why I take so many pictures, because I truly will go back and pore over pics of my kids. I'll be this crazy, old, senile lady someday, shuffling through dog-eared photos of my kids. Nine kids is a lot of photos!

So, as long as I'm here, I'll give a little update on the adopted kids. I've had some comments about not using their names, and calling them "Big Girl" or "Little Man." The names that they had before were "virtual names" for the internet, given by Reece's Rainbow to protect the children's privacy, and not their real names at all. I would consider using them for my blog, except that I have too many people calling them those names in real life already, and even I have to remind myself not to call our son, "Marshall." I've just decided not to use their real names for privacy purposes. So if you get confused, don't worry; you're not the only one.
What could be better than sitting on the kitchen counter, watching Mom work, while the little kids are still taking naps?

Our Big Girl (with short hair) has not had any aggressive tendencies almost since we returned. We had three incidences of hair-pulling on grownups (women) in the first week, which received swift consequences (leaving no doubt as to the acceptability of said behavior.) So, she knew she wasn't in Kansas anymore. She's never been aggressive with the other little kids, and mostly ignores them. Occasionally, she'll tell them something (I have no idea what) and then go back to talking to herself or daydreaming, or watching the big people around here. She is extremely affectionate with me, and I would even say is a "mama's girl." She hasn't figured out how to give a kiss, but that's okay, since she's got a cold again, with a hideously snotty nose. She took a break for a few weeks from being verbal, and was just a silent presence. She's very talkative again, but none of it is recognizable.
Don't let this look fool you.  He actually likes it when his big brother flies him through the air, and seems to expect it, although he would never admit it!

Our boy continues to try everyone's patience, as he whines and frets constantly. He almost never takes a break from it. It is very wearing, and annoying, and doesn't make anyone want to be nice to him. In fact, sort of the oppposite. We made it a goal to stimulate the kids as much as possible, and to keep them moving, since they default to laying around or rocking, so all the big kids like to make our boy move, get up and walk, or even wrestle him around a bit. He fusses about everything anyway, so they figure, why not bug him? Our oldest boy is probably the most immune to his crying, and also likes to bug him the most, and surprisingly, these two have come to something of an understanding.

As far as our new boy's eating goes, every day gets better. Every day is still a major traumatizing battle for everyone in earshot, but every day sees more food in his belly, so for me, that's a success. Every meal we have what I call "the moment of truth" when he looks into his bowl to see what might have materialized there, and if it does not meet his approval (which it usually doesn't) he throws a major tantrum. Then he gets to stand in a corner until he's ready to sit up to the table, and then he usually eats whatever is in the bowl--or at least he'll pick out whatever is least objectionable. He is very dainty with his spoon, and can separate the tiniest scrap of applesauce from anything else. Applesauce is a winner, and always meets with approval. In fact, sometimes I pour applesauce over other things that you would never want to eat with applesauce, because some of it will be deemed necessary and go down the hatch in order to get the applesauce. Remember that I said that he likes anything pureed? We're trying to get him to accept other textures, so we like him to be a bit hungry. He isn't skipping as many meals, but he's still plenty picky, and yesterday, since he hadn't eaten enough for several meals to make me happy, and hadn't eaten any meat, really, I was concerned. I made him a big pureed blender full of meat loaf, potatoes, bread, fresh apple, rice milk, olive oil and butter, for lunch. I made enough for two meals, but he scooped it all up and ate it in about three minutes, so I gave him all of the rest of it. Then because he'd eaten so much for lunch, by dinnertime he was starving, and when I gave him his bowl for dinner (which was stew with lots of meat and veggies) he attacked his dinner so voraciously, we all laughed and yelled with amazement. He ate two big bowls of stew, which is more than I ate. This morning he ate fried eggs, sausage, and part of a cinnamon roll (all cut up very tiny,) which I did not expect, because of the textures. At lunch, though, he got very angry about being offered tuna sandwich, even though he usually likes it.

This one is actually into everything, and likes to take things out of drawers--pretending to fold, fix, etc.

Our littlest girl is still enjoying being the apple of everyone's eye, and gets jealous of the other kids if she thinks they're trying to steal her spot. She talks to them a lot (again, I can't understand it,) bosses them, and even tattles on them. It's amazing how much tattling you can do even when you can't talk the same language. At lunch, over the tuna sandwich, she tried to feed our boy off of a fork, which was, of course, incredibly offensive, and just added insult to injury. Mealtimes are high drama around here. Anyway, in an attempt to improve communication, we've been attempting to learn and teach sign language to the kids. This little girl, though, is making up her own signs apparently. When I ask her if she's all done on the potty (using the sign for "all done") she nods and says, "Da!" (That's "yes" in Russian, for those of you who don't know) and when I try to take her off, she shakes her head and says, "Ni!" (that's "no" in Ukrainian.) If I ask her if she wants to go poop, using the sign for "poop," she smiles sweetly, puts her two forefingers together momentarily, and then swings her arms wide, while saying "Meh!" very clearly. She did this every time I asked her if she wanted to go "poop." I thought she was signing "more" and saying "more," but she differentiates between the signs quite nicely, and expected me to, as well. Now it's my job to learn her sign, and use it with her, I guess. Hmmm? Any guesses as to what it could mean?
Boy, this takes me back!  Any time Dad had a job to do, there was a little helper around.

He was studiously ignoring me, and when he shifted his eyes over, I snapped the pic!
She loves being tickled!

New shoes, sweet dreams...  What could be better?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Look who we've got!

Proud to serve her country.

We're so happy to have her home!

This is the daughter who always reminded me of my mother.

New sisters getting acquainted.

She was dying for some homecooking, even if she had to make it herself!
My morning routine used to be to enjoy a cup of coffee.  Now other people enjoy it with me.

If they paid for cuteness, we'd be rich!

Swordplay with a drumstick and a spatula.  Caught these rare smiles...

If they paid for affection, we'd be rich!  I guess we are rich.

Occasionally, we get a pouty look, too.

"This is fun!  Keep going!"
"My arms are killing me!"

Chocolate cake was a big hit!

I don't know if they served chocolate cake at the orphanage.  This was the first time we've ever served it to them.
She did know how to wear this.  The other little ones wouldn't let her listen to their stomachs.
Even though our pictures all look upbeat, I think we're nearing the point at which we can say, "the honeymoon is over." Just trying to keep it real, here. I know there will be a period of adjustment while people sort out how their lives have changed. Thankfully, I still see lots of affection from big kids to little, but there is plenty of complaining around here these days. The little girls are having a wonderful time, still, and our new little son is still convinced that he's the unluckiest boy in the world, and whines about it incessantly. That gets wearing after a while, believe me! I'm still having a great time, though, and enjoy my times home with my little angels (my teens would be rolling their eyes, and telling me that I baby them too much.) Since I work fulltime, it feels like every moment with them is precious. I guess everyone around here doesn't feel like that!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Last of the family weekend pics

I had so many pictures I had to make them into four blog posts, since my computer wouldn't cooperate.

Look who got treated like big kids, and got to go to cut down the Christmas tree!

Trying on someone else's hat.

David, preparing the big family dinner of chicken and dumplings, which is a family favorite around here.  The big girls ask for it when they come home.

The "kids' table"

The "grownups' table"

Yep, he's one of us!  He likes chicken and dumplings.  Apparently he likes brussels sprouts, too.  He's definitely one of us!

He still needs a little help with the cup.  In case you're wondering, he doesn't like plastic sippy cups.

Learning how to hang ornaments.  This was after she switched to tiny stuffed animal ornaments.  She broke 100% of the glass ornaments she tried to hang!

He's happy that he had a 100% success rate with the glass ornaments he hung.

More pics from our family weekend

These two brothers have been bonding a lot lately.  One brother works really hard at it, and the other one says, "Is that all you've got?  Try harder!"

This uncle has a shadow everywhere he goes.

This sweet pea was getting sleepy.

This girl is really learning how to pose!

He had a whole routine worked out, which he showed off for us.  This is the one crazy face I caught.

Some people were more unhappy about the idea of going to bed than others.

One of my girls is very talented, and made these for her sisters.  By the way, I'm proud to report that this daughter got straight A's this quarter!

Very smart in her new hat and scarf.  I'm happy to report that this daughter just graduated with her bachelor's degree in business!

What was missing before?  Maybe a loving grandma...

My son-in-law was so enchanted with this little one that he was pretty sure he wanted to take her home with him.  We said, "Go get your own.  This one's taken!"