Monday, August 31

Dr's all around

Today baby and I (and Mike came along) had a doctor's visit. My LAST visit before she's born!

Up to this point I've gained about 16 lbs (I think?) and baby is growing well :) I asked the doctor to guess at a weight for the baby for her delivery next Wednesday and he says 6lbs 4oz. We'll see how close he is! I'd guessed 6lbs 8 oz and Mike right at 6 lbs. How is it that I feel like she's bigger than everyone else does? Maybe because I'm the one carrying her around 24/7 at the moment!

I'm still anemic... guess I have to be more diligent with the iron even tho it upsets my stomach :( But 9.8 isn't SUPER low... 11.5 is the low-normal. He wants me at 13...

Tomorrow morning is Micah's 3 yr visit and flu shot. And Emma's update for vaccines and flu shot. And TB test for both of them. And Brianna's flu shot. And Kristopher's... flu mist? Not sure yet.

And yes, my mom is coming with me tomorrow :) I don't do more than 3 at the doctor's without some help if I can!!

Then it's off to school with all 4 of them!

Sunday, August 30

Today

I attacked this jungle which I will admit is the corner right by our front door which you walk AROUND to get to our house…

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Kristopher helped, can you tell?  He’s doing great hitting off the tee and even was hitting all the self-pitch ones by the end of our time out there!

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After about 90 minutes with a ‘knee pad’ and a good pair of garden gloves it is now recognizable as separate plants!  Admittedly still needs work, the bushes all need major trimming.  But WAY better than it was… you can see that there are bushes now!  It was really bothering me!

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And of course Mike helped :)  He did this…

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Which of course is what Daddy NEEDS to do on the weekend, because these guys LOVE to snuggle their dad.  And they sure don’t mind watching him play PS2 either… especially when he occasionally gives up the remote!

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Young Families' Dinner

This Thursday!

Let me know if you want more info :) We do this about once a month and love meeting new local families and getting to hang out and get to know them better!

Friday, August 28

Hand of God...

Over a lifetime there are innumerable ways which God shows himself. Some big, some small...

Tonight I was talking with Shelley and told her of our application process with our i-600a for USCIS. Then, I decided that I want to start randomly sharing the Hand of God in aspects of our life both current and in the past. So here you go...

When we were applying to the USCIS for our i-600a (advance approval to adopt an orphaned child), we sent a letter along with it explaining that we had a specific child with special needs in mind and would appreciate expedited processing. Not long into our paperwork process, that little girl... Sasha... who we'd planned to bring home, was transferred to a mental institution. Of course this brought us to our knees even more fully as we knew nothing about the place she was moved to. One of the things we immediately did was call USCIS to try to trace down our application and get it approved as soon as possible. Of course... we did something else first.

First we put out an 'all call' to our prayer chain, church, blog readers, and anyone that would listen. We asked specifically for whomever had our USCIS application to be touched and approve it quickly.

October 30th we found out Sasha had moved. November 2nd I finally got a hold of someone that could answer my questions... In fact, it was the person that my USCIS application had passed through. She said she recalls my name specifically without looking it up... we are adopting children with Down syndrome, right? Then she said she has a child with a disability... and would we please pray for her child?

Almost 2 years later I still marvel at the BIG and AWESOME God that we serve, and all the little things that He did to bring us to our children.

No, we still didn't bring Sasha home. But He had us getting to Ukraine FAST for a reason. Two beautiful reasons.

to do or not to do

6 loads of laundry to wash sort, fold, and put away
1 guest room to clean
2 kids to school
2 kids home from school
11 doses of medicine
10 times brushing teeth
6 times getting kids dressed
13 diaper changes
6 trips with a little one to the bathroom
2 closets to fend through
1 laundry room to 'find' (aside from laundry!)

ok... I've done most of that... except the bedtime stuff... and Mike brought the kids to school... and still... if possible... to do today:

2 loads of dishes
6 people's dinner
1 bassinet to bring in from the garage (and set up)

So if you are wondering whether I have some magical 9th month energy... the answer is NO :) But I do know I have done pretty much NOTHING all week and it all piled up to today and I'd like to not have it hanging over me next week :) Thank God Mike does dishes so those aren't SO far behind :) :)

Thursday, August 27

12 days

Really?? 12 days until we're having a new baby?!?!

Emma's doing better in school

I understand she's still rocking some and still wanting to throw her glasses, BUT...

She is not nearly as frustrated when she gets home! She's met me with big smiles and something that I will take for a hug (she doesn't really give 'hugs', but... she'll at least hold on a little :) ). Her teacher says she is doing well. The PT got a gait trainer for her and will begin using it with her as soon as I can get a dr's clearance that says that she's allowed to bear weight without her knee braces (remember, she's not needing them now... but I didn't get a dr's note and it is in her IEP that she requires them..).

We did buy a glasses strap because we simply can't have her throwing them and then them either getting lost or broken. They also set up a 'strap' that goes across Emma's chest (under her arms) so she doesn't lay down on her own lap constantly in the Rifton-type chair she uses in the classroom. I hate the idea of restraints, but I know how difficult it is to get her to participate when she is completely folded over. This is why we have the type of harness that we have on her wheelchair.

Emma now has photos for transitioning from one thing to the next. I am trying to get a book of some sort to put them in. The teacher wants her to be able to pull them on and off the page with velcro so she can hold and touch the pictures. I think that's a great idea. Originally we were thinking a 4x6 photo album, but the pages aren't strong enough to support her rough-tearing of the velcro. So... I'm on the lookout! Any suggestions? Something that holds 4x6 photos and isn't much larger than that (so it can be out more and more portable in the classroom) but is sturdy enough to be used with velcro on the pages.

My thought is to find a 'binder' that's about that size-- maybe even one intended to be a photo album-- and to buy some flimsy plastic 2-pocket folders and cut them to the size of the binder and punch holes. It wouldn't tear, but wouldn't be super thick (we thought about using a regular cardboard book covered in white contact paper, but it would only hold a few photos...). Any other ideas??

Day two

of preschool for Micah And I ot a call from the school nurse a little over an hour in to school. First thought was Kristopher might have strep since he's the only one not on an anti. No... Micah got into ants and his feet are 'covered' and has several on his hands and face. He was happy and content and they put calamine (caladryl?) lotion on it and he doesn't seem bothered. However much I'd like to go see what he looks like and be sure he's fine... I said to call me if he seems really irritated with them (so I can give him some Benadryl) and I guess he's fine. They should be napping soon then I go pick them up.

I've been home for an HOUR alone and now... time for MY nap :) Better set an alarm...

Wednesday, August 26

How's things?

Yesterday was overwhelming, that's for sure. A busy morning was just that-- nothing bad, just busy. In the afternoon I got some news from the school that I can't say I wasn't expecting... but I was hoping not to get. If you remember, I was told Emma wouldn't have a 1:1 during her IEP meting. Her IEP says "small ratio" or something like that. But... in early summer they hired a 1:1 PCA (personal care assistant) for Emma for this year. I was thrilled! (And a bit... a LOT... surprised!)

School starts, Emma is doing ok, 2nd week hits, she goes down hill. Wednesday last week I went in to the classroom just a bit in the morning and that same time they got a new student. A very cute little girl that also has a lot of needs. Thursday Emma didn't go to school and Friday she was home as well. Monday she's back at school... Tuesday... I hear that "Emma's 1:1 PCA" is no longer Emma's. She now is a classroom PCA because they do not plan to hire a second PCA for the same classroom.

I know this makes sense. I know it wasn't in Emma's IEP (therefore they CAN do it). And I know that there's really NO WAY for the classroom to function with just the teacher and 1 aide along with 4 students that are "somewhat more independent" but still needing a LOT of assistance as well as a child who needs the same level of assistance as Emma... and have the PCA just work with Emma. There's no way for 2 adults to handle those 5 children.

So... Now there is a 1:2 ratio in the class. Still not a big class. Still a LOT of work on EVERYONE I'm sure. I would venture to guess that the class really should have a 4th person in it, whether a teaching aide (instructive) or a PCA (personal care). I'm not sure what to think of all of this, except to know that the teacher (temporary) is a strong Christian and that I CAN trust that Emma will be well cared for and not neglected. Academically... who knows. Can 3 people really take care of 6 very needy children and get in academics too? I guess we'll find out.

Then when I got home from getting the kids yesterday, I see a note from the kindergarten department saying that the "drop in informal open house night" (which is the only info I'd receive about it) is actually, for Kindergarten, a 1 hour meeting where they'll go over curriculum, etc. Not in the classroom, not with the teachers, and not drop in. And... don't bring your children.

Thankfully I'd already set up a sitter for Micah and even that morning had planned to leave Emma and Brianna too and just bring Kristopher... figuring he would be the one that wanted to show us around his classroom, etc for the open house. Apparently not. Michael ended up going to the kindergarten 'meeting' and I spent the hour with Emma and Brianna (and Micah's) teachers. The kids' speech teacher also came by for a little while and we all talaked shop. There was only one other parent that came out of Emma's class so the second half hour or so of the evening we just sat and chatted. It was nice to have that time to connect!

And... since Emma's temporary teacher is also the permanent aide in Brianna and Micah's room, and the classrooms are on opposite corners of one 'pod' in a building, the pre-k teacher, Emma's teacher (the pre-k aide) and the speech teacher and I all just together and talked. Then Mike joined us for about 15 minutes and we headed home. It was very nice... but definitely made for a long day, especially as I was still working on processing the whole aide situation.

Today I got up bright and early, through the shower, 4 kids up dressed, fed, lunches in backpacks, medicines given, shoes on, Micah's 'first day supplies' packed into the car along with his highchair (we have requested a feeding seat at school but won't have it for a little bit so I sent ours from home and we'll make due for a few days and hold him to have his bottles or whatever we need to do). We got extra diapers for Emma into the car and everyone's backpacks... and off I went with a carload of kids that were all going to school!

But don't let that fool you :) Although I did plan to drop Micah off the first day, kiss him on the head and have him turn around and run for the toys (because up until this time he's always wanted to stay and I have to carry him out of the room), his teacher asked if I would stay for a little while on the first day to get him situated and so they could figure out his feeding, high chair, and just have a little time to get adjusted. I readily agreed (and had earlier considered offering but didn't want them to feel they HAD to accept it). I know Micah is a handful!

So I brought the kids to their classes then signed in as a volunteer, made two more trips from the van to the classroom (got in my exercise, the classroom is on the back of campus!), and helped out for the morning. Micah doesn't exactly... listen. Or sit. Or walk in a line. Or stay put long. :) He's a BUSY GUY! At home, not so bad because we have gates and parameters for him, but at school... he needed someone to be on him or with him at all times. So not just "one more head to count", but one more body that needs to be sat ON in addition to the 7 other children in the class! He also needs to be spoon fed, walked by the hand from place to place, and he apparently wasn't so sure about leaving the playground to go to PT and dropped on the ground and cried when she tried to take him.

Honestly, I was glad to see that! He so readily goes with people that I was glad that someone that he wasn't familiar with wasn't just easy to walk off with. Hopefully he will decide that these therapists are ok really quickly though, because I don't plan to stay long tomorrow :). I did walk with him to the cafeteria where they were going to work on going up and down the stairs to the stage while holding on to the wall. I left when they were there and let them have their time, though. I didn't want to be everywhere with him and have him just have as rough of a time the next time because I'm not around.

After lunch, as the kids were going down for naps I headed out since they nap and pretty much have dismissal right after that. Plus... I'd made my own plans to have lunch with a friend :) I have no idea how many MONTHS it has been since I've gone to lunch with an adult friend and no kids! Had a great time :) Then went right back to the school to pick the munchkins up.

So today, though it was the first day of all four kids going to school, was a very long day! LOL I enjoyed being able to help out in the classroom a little and to see Brianna participate with the class and especially to see how independent she was. I was afraid me being around and especially being in and out (I didn't go to the playground with them except a few minutes and I also left to go to PT with Micah) that she would have a hard time with it. She surprised me and did great :). LOVE when that happens!

A very long post about nothing, but Micah had a great first day, though his teachers are definitely going to get a run for it with him until he's situated in the routine. He's the youngest by a good year, maybe more, except for Brianna-- the only other 3 yr old in the class. Add to that a 'typical' developmental delay because he has Down syndrome, and an additional DD because of the time he spent in the orphanage... and you have a baby in the prek room. I hope it works out ok and the teachers aren't pulling their hair out too badly!!

He will go tomorrow and then be home Fri and Mon (same as Brianna) and Tuesday all the kids will go late to school after doctor's visits (so long as they are all up to it... M and E will get vaccines and all 4 will get flu shots if they're available). So at least his first 2 weeks won't be all 3 long days.

I'm done rambling... for now... and I have a pic or two of Micah's first day that I'll try to share later.

Tomorrow, I might bring the kids to school, have my bloodwork done, and go home to sleep for a few hours :D

Thanking God tonight for the Christian teachers that he's placed over every one of my children this year-- even in the public school system :)

Tuesday, August 25

Some days

Just don't go well.

Everything piles up.

Today would be one of those...

So far

3 kids to school
1 IEP meeting
1 30 min drive (each way)
1 GI appointment
1 hungry little boy
1 tired mom

Monday, August 24

Yep, We're Fine!

Just thought I'd follow up... My foot is fine, my knee is fine... my thigh/hip... well, they are SORE :) But otherwise good! And baby seems to be just fine. I go back next Monday but if I have any concerns before that I'll call. I don't see the doctor this week, but I really don't think there are any concerns as baby is active as ever and I haven't had any indications that anything is wrong. Except that I ache! LOL

Sunday, August 23

More video of the kids-- Emma and Brianna...

This one is also from the other night. It's the girls rough-housing before bed. Those two both get rough, but they ease up too... Their play like this generally isn't allowed to last too long because Emma is a LOT stronger than Brianna! But... Emma plays with pushing and laying on people, and Brianna defends by smacking her... Ugh. LOL! Anyway, they definitely have that sisterly love, and Micah is a little love too :) Can you tell who the little "Momma" is in this house?

Oh, and Kristopher was throwing things "launching" them off the table, so please ignore the reprimands to him! LOL. His video will be next! His is long and is taking a looooooong time to upload. Maybe I should have clipped it FIRST? :)
Enjoy!

Saturday, August 22

OW.

It started as a nice morning in the pool. Mike and I, the 4 kids, HAPPY kids that have been on antibiotics for 24+ hours :), a HOT day, and an 80+ degree pool. We have the 'baby guard' fence around the pool so we have a barrier for some of the kids to be IN the pool right with us and some to play in a small pool on a big foam-pad mat on the deck right outside the fence.

It turned bad when Micah started pushing his face and hands against the fence mesh and screen door and licking. First off, ew. Second off, he is just getting over strep. Third, it'll stretch out the mesh and isn't good for it. And Fourth, he has a tendency to BITE on things like that and we don't need holes in the fence mesh.

So we said 'no' (he kept doing it). Mike splashed him when he did it (which he LOVED). Finally when he was licking the screen door with his back to me and I didn't have any kids in my hands, I quickly got out of the pool, went through the gate, and took 2 steps toward him to be able to swat his little hand and have him understand that NO is NO and what he's doing is not ok. I only got 2 steps in because then my feet slid right out from under me on the foam mats. One hit the concrete deck, bent and my knee hit the ground. The other went straight out in front of me and kicked the corner of the aluminum square framing around the screen door. I caught myself with my hands as well, and thankfully the kids weren't right underfoot.

Yes, he still got a swat on his hand and a firm 'no'. Yes, he pretty much stopped licking it after that. Yes, I was HURTING!

At first I thought the bigget pain was my left thigh where it pulled abnormally far. Then I realized my right foot had hit the bone right on the corner of the aluminum and was already swelling. When Mike got to me he pointed out that my knee was already swelling a bit too and was scraped (just surface scraped thankfully).

So... I sat a while. Mike got me ice. And I sat for a while more :)

Baby is moving, nothing unusual around there, no contractions aside from what I've been having for weeks, and I really landed mostly on my legs and hand so we didn't head off to the ER. But man my foot hurts. And my knee. Thankfully my thigh muscles feel ok now and hopefully it will continue to!

Nothing like a little excitement to end a Saturday morning in the pool.

Hey Locals! Help bring more kids w/ Ds home!

This is a note I just received from Mike's parents. I post on and off about the fund they formed when we were in the process of our own adoption. It's called the Benjamin Cornish Memorial Fund and was made to help raise funds in the form of grants for families adopting children with Down syndrome internationally as well as a few other purposes...

Their next fundraiser is being done for a family that is adopting 2 children- one with Down syndrome- internationally.

So... if you're local and want to get rid of some clutter in your house/garage, please e-mail Cecil and Peggy to drop off your goodies (tax deductible donations, they are a 501c3 non profit!) or for them to arrange to pick them up!

If you have the ability to hang fliers, here's a link to their printable flier:
http://mcornish.org/blog/BCMF%20garage%20sale.pdf

Here's their message:

We are having another benefit garage sale on the 29th and 30th of this month for the Benjamin Cornish Memorial Fund. If you have any items that are collecting dust in the back of your cabinets, taking up space in your garage, we would love to have them to help our families out. If this is too short of notice, we are also having another one in the fall when it cools down. We are trying to squeeze this one in for one particular family that is adopting their special kids on September 5th.

Please call us if you have anything to be picked up and we can make arrangements.

Thank you!!!

Cecil and Peggy Cornish

pcornish (at) cfl (dot) rr (dot) com

battc3 (at) cfl (dot) rr (dot) com

Benjamin Cornish Memorial Fund

*** The garage sale will be at 603 Kel Street, off of Old Dixie, so come support this family by shopping too!!!***


Friday, August 21

Smells like Summer Breeze

My entire house, that is! And no, I didn't open all the windows to let in a breeze. Then it would be called Undeniably HOT MUGGY FLORIDA WEATHER and likely called MILDEW in a day or so because of the amount of moisture that would be coming in the house. No... this Summer Breeze would be the scent of the disinfectant spray that I just used to spray down the ENTIRE house. The two little ones are napping, Emma's in the playpen (to keep her out of the disinfecting regimen!) and I went to town! Every doorknob, baby gate, window (about 2 feet up LOL), toy, chair, highchair, cabinet knob, toilet seat, flushing knob, sink faucet, dresser drawer handle, light switch, telephone, toy bin, and everything else I could find has now been sprayed down and left to air dry.

I realize I need to make that same path with a rag and some Lysol because some of those areas needed more of a scrubbing than just a disinfecting... but that will have to wait. Right now I bumped the AC down, turned on all the fans, and I'm laying here with my feet up. Who knew walking around bent over through the entire house for a good 30 minutes would be so exhausting?? :) I guess it wouldn't be if I wasn't 8+ months pregnant LOL!

Thursday, August 20

But...

I have to say... I'm SO THANKFUL to have family nearby! For instance Mike was able to come home during lunch to bring Brianna home from school so I could make it to her doctor's appointment. And my mom was able to come to stay with the other 2 kids for an hour so they didn't have to go back to the doctor with me. Laundry has been pushed through that I'd started last night. My kids were fed the last of their lunch that I didn't have time to do between appointments. And on my way home from appt #2 at the doctor... I realized that over the weekend Mike's mom had offered to bring us some dinner one night because she was making corned beef. She set up to bring it... THURSDAY! So there is a HOT dinner on my kitchen table on a night that there's probably a very low likelihood that I would have pulled myself together and cooked. What a blessing!!

So glad to have family nearby, and for them to be so willing and able to help! We are very thankful for them! And I for my wonderful husband as well :)

To: the Cornish family, From: school

Dear Cornish family, it is the 2nd week of public school for 3 of your children. To initiate you all into this world, I've sent you a little something. I'll do it subtly the first time, but no worries, you'll get it in full force in the future. Today, however, I'll just start with a few dots on Emma's nose in the evening. Then the next morning when you get her out of bed and snuggle her, you'll notice another 9 or 10 of them spread out across her face. In fact, you'll consider just sending her to school because they look like little bites... but since I gave you that little hint last night on her nose, you'll second guess the bug bite idea. In fact, since you keep your house warm and the kids have been sleeping without shirts on, you'll be pretty sure it's not bug bites when there's nothing on her chest or back. Off to the doctor you will go.

And since Micah doesn't have school yet, you'll bring him with you to the flu-infested doctor's office. Then, you'll sit for an hour in the waiting room before being called back to the room. Then another 45 minutes in the room before you see the doctor. Your children will throw the 'clean' toys you brought with you, they'll throw fits, they'll wiggle to get down onto the floor, and eventually both will have breakdowns and just scream for a little while. It will make you thankful that you only have 2 with you today and make you wonder how you'll handle a third in the midst of this situation because the baby inevitably will be along for these fun visits soon.

Then when you finally do see the doctor 2+ hours after your appointment time, he'll say "probably just a virus" then swab Emma's throat for Strep. In 5 minutes he'll pop back in and say "let's do him too, she's positive." Of course in the midst of all that, Emma will have thrown a FULL BLOWN FIT and be impossible to comfort, so when the doctor comes back in she'll break back into hysterics. And when Emma was swabbed, Micah will feel the need to scream then too. And, of course, Micah and Emma both will begin screaming again when it's Micah's turn. If they didn't, the trip might seem a little too easy.

When the doctor comes back in a little while later and says Micah's is positive too, he'll then suggest you bring at least Brianna in to be checked. And Kristopher if you think he might have it too. So you'll call your husband to pick Brianna up from school even though she has no symptoms. He should be coming home for lunch anyway soon. And you'll call your mom to watch the two that are sick so they don't have to spend even more time at the doctor's office that day. After all... 3 hours is quite a while for any child.

Then you'll spend about 20 minutes out of the 45 that you have at home writing emails to the kids' 3 teachers to let them know that 2 of the (school) kids have strep and to figure out how pick-up for Kristopher will work... and Mike will have to pick him up after school. When everything's arranged for all the kids, you'll go spend another hour at the office and, yes, she'll come back positive with strep too.

When you finally get home after a long and exhausting day, you'll swallow hard a few times and begin to wonder if you, too, might have Strep. And what about Mike and K? Ah... this is the best subtle little gift you could have received the 2nd week of school, isn't it?

Look out, this is just the beginning! I have so many more surprises in store for you and your family! Ah... but don't think I'm ALL bad. After all... Emma might not really be having as many adjustment issues as it seems. It could be that she's just sick! And Micah might some day sleep past 5:30am when this is taken care of. And Brianna might sleep through the night again instead of waking every 3 hours. See? When you thought maybe your children were all going berzerk and that you were going to go nuts with them... I showed up to save the day. Really, you should thank me! And no worries, I'll be around again soon once I've sent my gift to a few other families.

Keep those antibiotics flowing!

Wednesday, August 19

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A little visit

Thank you!!

I went in this morning, dropped off Micah to my mom before school (she lives a block away from the kids' school... that is NICE!) and went in to the classroom. I asked if I could stay and just 'be around' for a little bit and needed to pick up Micah at 9 from mom so I knew it would be a short visit. The teacher is a wonderful CHRISTIAN woman and I really like her. Emma's 1:1 is great too, as is the other aide in the classroom... so I really am comfortable with E being there (I don't think it's an issue of neglect or harsh treatment, etc..).

I read several comments that said observe without her seeing me... but I decided this morning to do it where I was there simply for her to know that I was there. I sat at a table a little away from where she was as she ate breakfast and I tried not to 'interrupt' their routine but did talk with the teachers as they initiated. Then at 8:30 (school started at 8 ) they went to art and I walked with the class down there. When they stopped outside the art room and the door opened, E took her glasses off and threw them. *bingo*. She doesn't know where they're going or what they're doing there. Transition.

I was standing just behind her but I picked up her glasses, put them back on her, took her hands and gave them a little squeeze like I do at home and said 'no, don't throw, you leave your glasses on' just like I do at home. She didn't take them off the rest of art.

When they went in she still was unsure about things. Started playing with the velcro on her shes and then fidgeting until her aide had her paper out and magazine clippings and had moved the chair away for her wheelchair to fit, etc. Then once they were engaged, tho she had to be pulled back in to it and 'made' to participate (she's not exactly using glue sticks and arranging papers quite yet ;) ) she did fine. I offered to the 2nd aide to help the child next to Emma since there are 5 kids and the other aide has 4 by herself while the teacher is on planning and I occasionally would put my hand on E's shoulder or rub her hair, etc. just to say "I'm here, and you're ok."

The other little girl is probably around 7 and I talked with her about finding two pictures and cutting 'between' the pic's and helped her hold the paper so she could cut. She signed and
is nonverbal so was excited that I knew what she was saying :) . Anyway, toward the end of art I told Emma I'll see her in a little bit and I left because I needed to get Micah.

I think I'll ask the teacher this afternoon whether I can come the last 30-40 minutes of the day tomorrow and do the same. Just "be there" and let Emma know that there's not a magical wall between home and school and that she's 'safe'. I've not disappeared.

We'll see how the rest of today goes and play it by ear. If anyone else has ideas/suggestions I'm very open!!

For now I'll try to spend a bit of time there tomorrow afternoon and then go from there. I think I'll write a note today as well that just has a few observations about the morning (like the trigger of a new room and the glasses...) and maybe I'll suggest the transition tools as well. "We're going to art class" with a crayon in the hand. I know they have a picture schedule on the wall but I'm not sure how much they use it. They did prepare the kids verbally pretty well for the transition but I'm not sure that's enough for Emma.

*sigh* and the second week of school continues...

Tuesday, August 18

Sanity savers (aka routines)

For my RR Ukraine chat folks... here's how I stay sane :)

Every weekend prepares for the week ahead...

Sunday I defrost babyfood for the week for Micah.

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I pull out clothes for the school week for all 4 kids and put them in hanging-baskets in the guest room closet.

And I use lots of reusable containers

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To make big packages of food items

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into smaller servings.

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Then I put together lunches for the kids in gallon-size (reusable) zipper baggies and store them in the fridge drawer

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On school nights I go to the closet and pull out the kids' clothes  and put them on the table in front of the TV... which happens to be next to the changing table :)  I also round up shoes to make sure we're not hunting in the morning (the shoe basket is right there too). (Micah has 'helped' tonight... he loves to empty this table and I usually do it AFTER he's in bed!)

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I pull out the zip baggies of lunches and put them into the kids' lunch boxes and make whatever still needs to be done- mixing a pediasure/milk cup for Brianna, making a sandwich for Kristopher... little things that need to be fresh.  I leave the lunch boxes unzipped in the fridge overnight.

Then in the mornings we get the kids up, dressed (with shoes on), and they go right to the table.  If I had time the night before I'll get breakfast drinks/bottle together... if not it just takes a minute :).  When the kids are done eating they get medicine and their teeth brushed and by then it's been almost an hour and it's time to start out to the car.  We grab ice packs and slide them into the lunch boxes, put those in the backpacks and head out the door.

After school, backpacks are emptied and hung on their pegs (under the pegs right now are Micah's school supplies waiting for his 1st day of school ;) ).

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When the folders are emptied, I look at the kids' class papers and make sure their name and date is on it and they go into this vertical file.  Folders go right back to the backpacks.

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This was $1 at Target and it has 5 slots... 1 for each of the school-age kids and one in the back for paperwork that's general to the school or all the kids.  Then I don't have a pile of papers to go through later on :)  Eventually I'll go through and trash stuff and keep stuff... but for now it's at least all in one place!  (yes, that's only the last few days of paperwork--- see how it becomes a paper MESS quickly??) And Mike can look back at the kids' papers if he wants to since he's not home at the end of school.  I also can find the newsletter, school handbook, or IEP notice without too much trouble :)

After the backpacks are emptied, lunch boxes come to the table and I put the kids in their seats for a little snack and drink.  Anything left from lunch goes first, and if they don't have anything left then I'll get a snack from the pantry.  Kristopher empties his lunchbox, dirty containers in the sink, ice packs away, etc... and I do the other kids'.  Kristopher puts all the lunch boxes back in the cubbies. 

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I bring the vertical file in to the kitchen and use this as a chance to talk to Brianna and Emma about their papers and their day at school.  (Usually K tells me about his as we unpack the bags.)  I also take all the kids' shoes off... there's something about bare feet that make the kids happy to be home :)

So... for about an hour after we get home, the time is spent unpacking, cleaning up from school, snacking, and talking about the day.  I think this time is one I want to keep "built in" for as long as we can... it not only keeps school stuff organized, but it gives the kids something to expect and transitions them from "structured" time at school to "play" time at home.  When homework is introduced to the picture I'm sure this is where it will be added in too.  It keeps things from being a "run into the house for a free-for-all" LOL :)

There's a little about how we function now that school is in :)  I'm sure things will change when Micah starts school (can't make him a week of bottles in advance LOL) and again when the baby is born, but hopefully having some set routines will help the kids make that transition both into school and with the new baby too!  And hey... it keeps me sane :)

The glasses are found.

The little boy that found them rewarded.

The little girl that lost them spent an hour on Mommy's lap and calmed and is sweet again.

The solution is still far from found!

Maybe tomorrow I will sign in at the office and just let her class know I'll be staying for a little while. Plan on an hour or so... and then come back in the afternoon to observe as I'm guessing things are more pronounced then.

Maybe.

Hmm..

I think I have a lot of Hmm... posts. And yes, I've blogged a lot lately as things have been 1- busy and 2- I've been making more time to just SIT... which means I have thoughts running crazy in my mind and a computer nearby so why not :)

Anyway... Emma... school... Hmm...

We're now 7 days into school. Emma did great the first two days, and then last Wed she had a 'frustrated' day. She went to bed at 6:30 that night and Thurs/Fri she had better days.

Today her aide told me she threw her glasses so hard they popped the lens out. And she'd thrown them several times yesterday. She also was sitting at circle time and rocking back and forth while sitting. She's NEVER done this. Even when she first came home, she would rock-- but on her back since she couldn't hold up her head. She still does it at night occasionally but since getting the new bed we've not noticed it nearly as often (possibly because it doesn't make noise so WE don't notice... or possibly because it doesn't make noise so SHE doesn't DO it!).

She's got a weighted lap pad. She is throwing it. I can make her a weighted vest- she does good with firm pressure... I can buy her a glasses strap, they're about $4, but she's worn glasses for over a year and she rarely throws them if ever. She usually dangles them if she takes them off and then drops them. At the moment... I put her glasses back on when she came home and I cannot find them. She had them on less than 10 minutes.

This is what I call COMMUNICATION. Problem being... aside from her being 'whiney' and obviously showing frustration... I can "treat the symptoms", but WHY is she doing it??

Is it just adjusting to the long days? Is it because she's not in the routine yet and every day is a Monday? Is she needing more sleep? Is she just not ready for school?? Or for this school environment? (I really think she's in the BEST placement we could have her... but exploring all the options...). Any other thoughts??

I know she's talking to us. I just don't know what she's saying. I hope and pray that she's going to adjust in the next few weeks to the schedule/routine and these things that have 'appeared' will in the same way 'disappear'! But I don't want to miss something while we wait it out. And right now she's "droning" on the porch. Time to go snuggle my girl...

So, yes... Hmm....

No sleep

Ever have those nights where you get started a bit later than intended on heading to bed... but then you get to bed and start to fall asleep and realize you just CAN'T SLEEP? Last night our A/C said it was about the same as all other nights... and yet I was soooo hot. I had been hot before while doing the Ukraine chat but went to bed and it was just unbearable. I turned the fan on HIGH. I turned the A/C down a few degrees... I tried going to the couch in the other room. Nothing. Finally I brought my pillow out to the porch, turned on the A/C (after readjusting the house one back up) and set it COLD. I laid down on those big foam mats and with my upper-body on a beanbag chair and I fell asleep. At 12:35. Mike got home (and scared the crud out of me!) a little later. He'd had his LAST CLASS for his Master's program that night and then went out with the class to celebrate at the Cheesecake Factory (professor's treat, wasn't that nice?).

By that time I'd cooled off some and went back to bed and was able to go back to our bed a short time later. But I still couldn't get comfortable and got about 3 1/2 hours of sleep. 6am came EARLY. Actually, 5:30 when Brianna woke up (Mike got up with her tho!).

Monday, August 17

Wondering... paternity leave?

I'm curious whether the dads out there have been offered and taken paid paternity leave. Was it considered sick leave? Vacation? How much time of different kids was used/offered? Did it differ if baby was born via c-section (longer recovery period for mom/ more help needed from dad)? Did dad get just the time off while mom and baby were in the hospital? Or a few days after she was home? A week/two weeks home?

In looking around online, it seems like 5-10 days off is 'average' for the work force... and it seems 2-4 (or sometimes 8 and 12!) weeks is more the theme for churches across several denominations.

So... will you share? Even if you aren't in a situation where you've needed/used it, what is offered for dads to spend time with their newborn, help out with baby and be at home?

Video #2!

Here's another video from last night. I know they're longish, but I love having it all in one place... so here goes!

This one starts with Bria and her groovy girl dancing, but then Emma catches the beat, and eventually Micah comes in with his form of dancing... and Emma gives the grand finale :) I love these guys!

Potty training at home?

Well, all I intended to do today was find out whether the Pull-ups we have fit Brianna or not. She still wears some 12/18 mos shorts, but mostly 24 mos. So would a size 2t/3t pull-up fit? I wasn't sure. But Brianna's teacher asked for pull-ups since she was doing well going to the bathroom... and I wanted to make sure they fit before sending them to school. I'd hate to send her in pull-ups and then have her leak all over the place at school.

I do know that they stay up. But I still don't know whether they leak.

Because she hasn't wet them all day.

She even told us when I was at the OB's office today that she needed to go to the bathroom... and she sure did!

So although I hadn't planned to do potty training this week (or really until after the baby was born and settled)... it looks like Brianna may be taking care of that for us! I almost feel badly that we didn't push a little earlier to get her trained, but hey, if she decides that now's the time to train AND she's going to tell us when she needs to go... I won't complain!!

Video :)

I took a few videos last night before bed just to get some of the interaction of the kids. Here's the first one I actually got uploaded! LOL It's mostly M and B playing with the beanbag chairs, and E starts copying them partway through as well. Then Micah was just plain giddy and tired :)

I gotta say, I think I have some of the MOST FUN kids!!
(more coming later...)

Sunday, August 16

Home Language Survey...

I just finished filling out my 4th set of school registration paperwork in the last month or so, and each time I've come to the "home language survey" I've sat on it just a minute before proceeding...

At home we do both English and ASL, so when it says "Is a language other than English spoken in the home?" I put YES. Then I put English and ASL. I did this for all 3 little ones, but for K- since he doesn't require any ASL at school, I didn't put ASL. I think that if I'm requesting that the teachers/aides do ASL with the kids, I should write it on the home language survey as well.

And for the question "Was the child's first language one other than English?" Again, I put YES for Micah and Emma... and I put Russian. No, they didn't speak it, because they didn't speak. But they had to acquire the English language later in life, and I think that's important to note.

I do wonder what they even use that for??

Do YOU put ASL if you sign in the home? Hmm...

Is it really that close?

Three weeks to go until our scheduled c-section. But of course baby is making a few waves and I know better (now) than to wait until the last minute to pack our bag. Brianna almost came 3 weeks early and we were nowhere near ready! (She was born 2 weeks early and in that time Mike painted her bedroom, assembled the bassinet, we bought her preemie clothes because we knew she'd be tiny at that point, and we wrote up our plans for Kristopher and rushed around like mad! :)

This time around is different from the first 2 births because we expected both of those to be vaginal deliveries. We packed for labor, birth, and a 2 day hospital stay. Brianna was going to be an induction but ended up being an emergency c-section instead. So I know what to expect with the c-section (mostly) but I've not packed for a c-section vs. a regular delivery. And surprisingly, there's not a lot of info out there!

I know the common-sense stuff, but for those of you that have had a c-section or work in that area of a hospital... what are some suggestions of what to pack for our planned c-section?

One more time....

Thanks Trish! THIS should work for you if you're not in the US... I think!




And wow, you all replied from Austrailia, Italy, Israel, Hungary, Ukraine, England, and Sweden within 12 hours. I guess I should try to include better international links? :D Enjoy! (or... not LOL)

Saturday, August 15

If you're not in the US

Can you see the clip here??

http://www.nbc.com/Saturday_Night_Live/video/clips/pampers/981315/

From Mike

We're about to have FOUR in diapers, and not only that, one is in "overnights" all the time, one needs Pull-ups because she's getting CLOSE to potty trained, one just pees a lot but thankfully can use Sams brand diapers... and the fourth will be in newborn diapers. YIKES!!

So, here's Mike's suggestion to cut down on cost. After all, diapers and food are the top things consumed at this house!


Freely give, quietly

"... Freely you have received, freely give." -Matthew 10:8

"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full." - Matthew 6:2

Even (especially) when it means no one recognizes your giving.
Even (especially) when you haven't been told 'thanks'.
Even (especially) when you don't really want to.
Even (especially) when you have been doing it a long time.
Even (especially) when no one shows appreciation.
Even (especially) when it furthers God's Kingdom and satan wants a word with you about it.

Last night

I went to bed to lay down 'for a bit' at 6:30. I woke up once because, let's face it, you can't sleep more than 2 hours without going to the bathroom at 8+ mos pregnant :) Then at 10:20 I heard Mike come in. Oops... Guess I needed the sleep! He was getting ready for bed, doing things, whatever, he started the dryer and I got up to make it so it wouldn't buzz and keep tumbling all night long, turned off the fan in the room we were no longer in... all those good things... and I finally fell back asleep sometime after 11 I think. Then at 3 I woke up... to go to the bathroom. Then the baby monitor started acting up. Another hour I was awake due to this and that which needed attention at 3:30 in the morning. 5:50 Micah was awake. Emma was playing with the blinds in her room. Brianna saw me and shouted "Mommy!!" as I left there with Micah under one arm to put him in the playpen so maybe Emma would go back to sleep. I gave her some books to play with anyway and Bria was quiet.

By 6:15 K was up, E was talking, M was jabbering with K because they were both in the living room now, and B started banging the bunk bed ladder. Guess there's no sleeping until a decent hour today.

So technically it was 11 1/2 hours between when I went to bed and when the kids started getting up. Except I only got 9 hours of sleep. Not a bad amount of sleep, and definitely much more than I usually get. But there's no way I can just go to bed at 6:30 every night in order to get enough sleep!! After all... the kids don't even go to bed until 7 or 7:30!

And, can anyone tell me why it is that when the kids go to bed at 7:30 they get up at 7:30. Kristopher went to bed at 8 and would get up at 7 or 7:30. But when they go to bed at 7... they get up at 6:15??? I don't see how this works. If they can't get up earlier than 7:30 when they go to bed at 7:30... why is it that 30 min earlier bedtime makes over an HOUR earlier in wake time??? (especially on Saturday... they haven't been up that early the rest of the week!)

Thursday, August 13

Brianna was dry!

Her teacher says she was dry ALL DAY!

So, my thought was... I guess she needs to be drinking more :)

But they said she went on the toilet three times when they took her! So she is going. YAY!

I've known for quite some time she is ABLE to be toilet trained, but she only tells me once every few weeks that she needs to go, so I haven't pushed for toilet training. I can't put her on the toilet every 90 minutes all day long like they can at school. But hey, if she's doing it at school and will stay dry 3 days a week there, surely that will help transfer to home as well :) She's great about going if I put her on the toilet. I just want HER to be trained, not ME :)

Either way, yay for my big girl and a dry school day!

Pictures!

Kristopher's first day of school was today and he was really excited :)  Brianna and Emma also went (Brianna's 3rd day but only 2nd full day because of a dr's appt yesterday).  Micah and I hung out this morning and had lunch with Mike and now he's in his bed talking instead of sleeping.  I think he's going to be a grouch again tonight... yikes!

And... some photos from the kids' first days of school!

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(ok, ok, this was her 2nd day of school... I did take pic's after school the first day but she'd gotten her shirt wet and was wearing her 'spare' and was TIRED after 6 hrs of school... but her first day really was 8-11... :) )

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I also got an appointment for Micah's IEP!  Tues, the 25th we'll do his IEP and he'll start school either the next day or the following Tuesday (not sure).  But this will give him at least 3 days of school (T, W, R) before the week the baby is supposed to be here.  VERY glad to know he's not going to be trying to start school after she's born... that adjustment would probably be difficult for him!  They are also going to staff him in to the same classroom that Brianna is in now which is great :)  (their idea even,  ;) ). 

Off to pick up the three big kids at school in just a minute.  I don't look forward to waking up grouchy (he did fall asleep just a minute ago) but... oh well!

Wednesday, August 12

Not so sure about this one...

I got an email from Spirit Airlines. I'm on their mailing list for deals and such from a while back when I was trying to find cheap flights for something. Now, just the name "Spirit Airlines" kindof makes you think... celestial... Godly... Christian... at least it does me. I know that's not necessarily the case, but I was definitely caught by surprise to see an email with this subject line in my inbox today:

We're No Virgin! We've Been Cheap & Easy For Years. From $9* Each Way.‏

Hmm...

Tuesday, August 11

Yes, it was good!

Sorry for no update yesterday, and no pic yet today. I am exhausted! Yesterday was E's first day, dropped her at school then Mike back at the church, came home, made the playroom presentable and didn't even have that quite done when Micah's evaluator got there. 9-10:30 we worked on the eval with a very WIGGLY kid that didn't want to participate, a 5 yr old that thought he should be 'helpful' with Micah and a 3 yr old that was clingy because there were people she doesn't really know at the house. With 3 kids on my lap (plus the baby! LOL) sitting on the floor for 90 minutes... well, I got a workout!! I swear my kids are never that NEEDY when we don't have company! LOL

Then I fed the kids, put M down for a nap and K and B got a movie going and I set a timer for an hour and laid down on the couch. I was so tired! Then for pick-up, Emma did good at school tho she looked surprised to see me and like she didn't expect me to come get her at the end of the day. I know after a few days she'll get used to the routine and know I'm always coming back :)

I got to bed late after getting everything ready for Brianna's first day today... and then being up at 6am was a bit difficult.

Brianna's first day is today and I forgot to take pic's so I'll have to get one this afternoon... oops! I dropped her and Emma at school, killed 30 min of time then brought K back for kindy testing. Sat in the library for an hour while he went with his teacher. Then I came home and got Micah from my mom and went to Wal-Mart to grab a few things, back home- lunch, and the boys are having rest time. Time for me to rest too! Setting a timer... I have an hour :) More later if I find time!! (and pic's from the girls' first days of school!) K starts Thursday, no news yet on Micah's IEP.

Monday, August 10

Emma's at school

Yep, she really is. Her first day away from us and with someone she doesn't know. Her first day of going to PE, having lunch in a cafeteria, and traversing the halls of an unfamiliar place being pushed by an unfamiliar person with all kinds of other unfamiliar people around. Think she'll react to it like she does hospitals? It's the only thing I can equate to the concrete hallways and white walls.

8-2:15... I know she'll be ok... but I am definitely anxious to know how her day is going!!

Sunday, August 9

The busy weekend

I will post pictures SOON! I know I've been slacking there. This is the first week of school for Emma (Monday), Brianna (Tuesday), and Kristopher (Thursday)! Micah also has his transition eval on Monday and Kristopher has Kindy 'testing' on Tuesday. So it promises to be an eventful week filled with lots of firsts as well. And hopefully I'll remember the camera for each of those!

Please join me in praying that the timing for Micah to start school and his teacher will all be the best situation they can be for Micah. We were supposed to have all his testing and IEP done over the summer so he could start school on Tuesday, but that didn't happen. They didn't schedule testing until tomorrow. So I have no timeline for when he will start, except it must be at least by 9/10... his third birthday. Unfortunately, Mike and I both feel like this would be really bad timing as we don't want him to feel 'pushed out' by the new baby arriving on the 9th. Not to mention that I will be in the hospital for 3 days at that point and unable to drive for a month after. Not exactly the time you want your child to start school for the first time EVER.

We also don't know which class he will be in since there are 2 prek classes. We have requested he be in with Brianna as we know they will both be ok being together and also are very happy with the teacher and aide in that room (and they've met Micah and done a little 'bonding' as well) but also because it would really make life easier on us to have both kids on the same routine, same requirements, same projects, etc. for 2 years. Once they hit 'regular' school (Kindy), they will be a year apart. Micah will have a 3rd year of prek before going to Kindy, so they won't be in the same class together after that. It's all in God's hands, and we are praying for our own ability to simply accept whatever is decided by the team (yes, of course including US!).

I don't know Kristopher's teacher (I don't think) and will meet her for the first time for his testing on Tuesday. I believe she is the ONLY Kindy teacher at that school that I don't know, which was a bit ironic that he was put in there since I really like all the teachers I do know... but again we're just trusting that this will be a great year for him and that she and he will have personalities that 'match up' well and it will be a good year!

And lastly... Emma's teacher, I believe I posted earlier, will be out for at least the first 6 weeks of school. As of Thursday they still didn't have a named Substitute for the class. They're also working on hiring a short term contract teacher-- but haven't even posted the available spot yet. So we will be bringing Emma in the morning to a substitute teacher her first day ever of school. YIKES! I would be pretty much panicked right now if it wasn't for her WONDERFUL 1:1 aide who we've met twice and the classroom aide that I met on Thursday. I know the classroom will be well-handled with those two ladies and I'm MUCH more relaxed about sending Emma since I know her aide is well-versed in her 'quirks'. That said, I still am sending a 1-subject notebook which has our contact info on the inside cover and the first page says "Please help keep me safe" and lists out the areas of safety concern for her. The next few pages describe her 'equipment' (wheelchair, braces, etc), her history in brief, and what we are currently working to encourage/discourage her from doing (mostly in mannerisms, but some in actual 'goals').

I have similar notebooks made up for Brianna and Micah as well and hope that these will be their 'traveling' notebook that goes to their therapies with them so the OT/PT, and ST can jot down a quick summary of what they worked on and what we can focus on that week too. Hopefully...

Yesterday I spent the day clearing out the kitchen cabinets. I now have a shelf for school-lunch containers, a pantry with no expired foods in it (LOL, yes, seriously!), and the upper portion of the pantry has 'stored' dry goods that I've bought to refill the pantry stash in the next few weeks/months. Today we went to Sam's- just Mike and I, Kristopher and Mike's mom (his dad kept the other kids) and we DID find some good deals on food :) There's a new store just 15-20 min from us, so I didn't buy anything that I wasn't SURE I was paying less for-- and that we didn't NEED. I have already bought other things on buy one get one or other sales and if I had a small stash of something I just wrote down the item and price and when I need it again we'll consider going back for those items.

Thanks for the comments about Sam's pricing, and which things to look for good prices on! As I shopped I realized that several of the things that we buy that we don't really think about as being 'name brand' certainly are. Like... goldfish (which Brianna LOVES), Fiber One bars (another staple for Brianna), Carnation instant breakfast (Mike drinks these), and a few other things. So we picked up those items along with frozen chicken breasts, chicken nuggets, and a lot of fruits and veggies to be made in to... BABY FOOD.

Yes, I'm at it again. I can't continue spending about $25/week on baby food. It just isn't gonna work! :) But this time, since the baby's so close to coming, I'm making about 2 months' supply and freezing a lot of it in 3 oz containers. When they're frozen I'll toss them all into baggies according to their type and label. Then I can grab out 2 'cubes' for each meal for a week at the beginning of each week and stick them in the refrigerator for them to defrost. I HOPE to do at least 2 months worth before the baby is born (maybe more??) so that we don't have to go back to jars too quickly. I know that having the kids in school will make this a little more doable for me too.

Tonight I got out the large container of yogurt and a honeydew and a watermelon and filled small lunch-box containers with small servings of fruit or yogurt to go with kids in lunchboxes this week. Then I made babyfood containers out of the rest of the watermelon and the honeydew (after Mike helped himself to a large serving of watermelon of course! :) ).

Now to find out what it's like to drop your non-verbal child off at school with strangers for 6+ hours. I know it will be ok. But I still don't like that it could-not be.

Friday, August 7

Hmm...

I got online at Samsclub.com and looked around a bit. They asked for me to choose a store to browse, I did. So I'm guessing that the products I see are the ones at the store... That would make sense, right? But now I have to wonder- is this the FULL inventory? Because I generally buy store-brand items, and so far I've found only 1 or 2 things that by buying in bulk I will actually save more than I do just buying the store brand at Wal-Mart. I don't see ANY store-brand items at Sams... so maybe that's the catch? I don't exactly want to spend $500 on groceries just so I don't have to shop as often. I'd rather do my weekly shopping and get just what I need at a time for the same price.

Even diapers and such, I buy Luvs and Huggies Overnights (Emma)... and neither of these are online for that store, and they're cheaper for me to buy at Wal-Mart than the other brands at Sams. Hmm... maybe I won't be making a trip to Sams this weekend after all? Or I could go and just pick up the 3 or 4 things that made any difference in price, but it doesn't seem worth the drive!

How about that?

On my to-do's from yesterday I get to mark some off!

On the to-do list now before Monday:
  1. make ASL packets for each of the kids that sign that has the words they use/understand and how to sign them
  2. make "please help keep me safe" pages for E and M addressing concerns with eating/personal safety (choking, aspirating, scratching, etc.)
  3. make an "I'm learning to..." page for Emma that says what things we've specifically been working on this summer to gain independence as well as what things we're DISCOURAGING so they can help with that (fingers to the back of the throat, hyperextending, etc.)
  4. get the supplies for Emma's class that were requested
  5. re-hang my 7-day clothes sorter and set up the first week of school-clothes in there (that was a GOD-SEND last year, but summertime is lazy and I took them down because I wasn't using them much)
  6. put together the diapering supplies for each of the 3 kids with their 1st day classroom 'stuff' (I think I might need suitcases to pull this off... maybe it's a good thing they all start school on different days??)
  7. go through my regular grocery receipts and write out how much I pay for them so when we go to Sam's Club on Sunday we don't spend MORE per item than we usually do at Wal-Mart!
And a few that weren't on the list....


8. Assemble baby swing and make sure all the pieces are there and it works before the 30 day return period is over.
9. Wash the baby's clothes and figure out if we still need anything for the baby.
10. Make an appointment for Micah's 3 yr checkup and Emma to get her next round of shots, including TB tests for both of them.



Yes, I just added things to the list and crossed them out. I'm that weird :)

Thursday, August 6

Whew, it's done!

Today I had plans... they didn't go as I intended, but it was so much better!

I was going to get out the door around 10:30 and take ALL the kids with me to the lab to get Brianna's blood draw done. Then at 11:30 or after I was invited to come meet the pre-k teacher that will have at least Brianna, and possibly (hopefully) Micah as well. 10:30 came and I was putting together lunches for everyone, realizing they would be hungry and not wanting to spend the money on drive-through when I could make lunches. 11:10 I pulled out of the driveway with 4 kids including shoes and a diaper bag, drinks, and lunches...

Then my Mom called and said she'd meet me for the blood draw and keep the 3 while I brought Brianna in. One problem, it would be 11:30 by the time I got there and they close at 12 for lunch. Not so good. So we decided we'd also be getting to the school around 11:30, and to just go there first.

I was expecting maybe 20 minutes of 'here's the classroom' and a few questions answered for me, and we'd be on our way. But no... it wasn't to be. Instead, the teacher and aide in the prek class were so welcoming and got out some toys and we sat and the kids played and we talked about the two little ones, expectations, drop off/pick up, etc. It was great! During that time the Ex Ed coordinator (I really don't know her title, LOL, but that's what she's helping us with so I guess that works) came by and said that the 2 aides were in Emma's class as well, to head over there when we had a chance.

These two classes are connected in a 'pod'... so three of the kids are all within a shout of one another :)

Emma's teacher isn't going to be in for at least the first 6 weeks of school (I learned this last week) because she broke her back. Seriously. OW. Thank God it's not any worse than it is because she could have ended up paralyzed but wow, how painful! Please pray for her quick healing and pain management! So, Emma's class has 5 kids in it and she has a 1:1 aide. I also met the classroom aide and we were all able to talk through some of the safety stuff with Emma. The Ex Ed coordinator was there too, so she set-up our pick up and drop off for us with the principal and came back and said that it was all set up! Since our kids are in 3 different programs ("assisted level" classroom (E), Prek (M &B), and Kindy (K)), they all have different 'regular' pick up and drop off and this way all 4 kids will be in ONE place for pick-up. And for the time being I'll be walking them in to their classrooms for drop-off (which I prefer for now at least).

My mom helped wrestle Micah (he's the one that wants to explore and doesn't listen LOL) and I was able to talk with all the aides and teacher and feel MUCH better about sending the kids to school next week!! I also was able to get a general idea of Emma's class-supply list (I hadn't seen one yet) and know about who they want diapers for, who they want to have a backpack or a nap mat, etc... I am SO GLAD I went, and that everyone was there! We spent not 30 min/hour there... but an hour and a half! Yikes! I hate to take that much of the teachers' time, but I feel very good about the first week of school now and not like I'll be wandering around and trying to get things figured out and set-up for the kids after the chaos of the first week of school has already begun.

On the to-do list now before Monday:
  1. make ASL packets for each of the kids that sign that has the words they use/understand and how to sign them
  2. make "please help keep me safe" pages for E and M addressing concerns with eating/personal safety (choking, aspirating, scratching, etc.)
  3. make an "I'm learning to..." page for Emma that says what things we've specifically been working on this summer to gain independence as well as what things we're DISCOURAGING so they can help with that (fingers to the back of the throat, hyperextending, etc.)
  4. get the supplies for Emma's class that were requested
  5. re-hang my 7-day clothes sorter and set up the first week of school-clothes in there (that was a GOD-SEND last year, but summertime is lazy and I took them down because I wasn't using them much)
  6. put together the diapering supplies for each of the 3 kids with their 1st day classroom 'stuff' (I think I might need suitcases to pull this off... maybe it's a good thing they all start school on different days??)
  7. go through my regular grocery receipts and write out how much I pay for them so when we go to Sam's Club on Sunday we don't spend MORE per item than we usually do at Wal-Mart!
I can't believe that not just ONE, but all FOUR kids are starting school. Kristopher was in prek last year at the private school, and Brianna was in K-3 for a half-year last year, but this is the first time any of the kids have gone full days (and ALL of them are) and the first time K has gone 5 days (and E will be too), their first experience in public school at all (tho I do love this school!) and Micah and Emma's very first experience in ANY classroom! WOW.

Ok, off to get dinner on. I'm not loving the single-parenting kick we've been on the last 2 weeks Mike's had conferences and weekend retreats and late meetings and all kinds of things, including a conference tonight and tomorrow so he'll be home after the kids are in bed. But... he has no class this coming Monday, and next week only a SHORT class, and he's DONE! FINISHED! He'll have an official graduation ceremony in December some time. YAY!

Tuesday, August 4

In the next few weeks...

4 (different) first days of school
1 cardiology appointment
1 endocrinologist appointment
1 GI appointment
1 blood draw
2 evaluations (Kristopher- Kindy testing and Micah transition Eval)
1 IEP
2 possible IEP updates
2 OB appointments
1 birthday party
1 birth :)
2 days off school for all the kids
1 month of no driving for me

Wow... it's gonna be a busy month!

Monday, August 3

What a difference a Year can make!

Last year on August 3rd we spent the evening sitting in the Ronald McDonald House hugging on Emma, praying, talking about the day(s) to come... unsure of what God's plan for us was... or for Emma.

At 11pm, just before going to bed, I wrote this post. We gave our daughter back to God that night, not knowing whether that would be the last time that we saw her smile, snuggled with her, and held her close as she fell asleep. The next morning she went in for her open heart surgery. At 5 1/2 years old, around 22 lbs, with severe pulmonary hypertension and two holes each the size of a dime in her heart- in addition to just one large valve that had to be separated and reformed into two... her chances were not good. In fact, we had some 'convincing' to do to even have her heart repaired because Emma would likely not live more than just a few months without it-- it was her only hope.

And that's just why she was given the name she was... Emma Hope-- Emma means "whole".

Here is the post I made that night:

Father,
Tonight as we look into our daughter's eyes we see love, hope, and assurance. We see joy, excitement, and still... a tired body. We trust you have a great and glorious plan for the future of each of your children, as it says and we've claimed many times before in Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you, Says the Lord, Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you HOPE and a future." You are going to work tomorrow, and we know that even tonight your hand is upon Emma, Dr. Q, each nurse, anesthesiologist, and any other person that will impact her tomorrow. Most of all, though, we commit her to you. We know your ways are the ones that are best- and we know that no matter the outcome of Emma's surgery tomorrow, You will be glorified and Your will in our lives and hers will be accomplished. Help us to be strong, to trust in you, to accept your answers when they're given, and to see Your work in everything tomorrow. Help us to be a testimony of Your love and grace-- not a blind and faithless walk-- but one that exemplifies You in all that we do. We're scared, and we don't know what Your plans are for Emma or for our family. But we do trust that You are in control and you know the number of each of our days. Father, we dedicate Emma to you. You've given her to us for a time, and though we hope and pray that she will be ours for many years more, we thank you for each day you've given us with her and we accept whatever you bring to us tomorrow.
In the name of Jesus, your Son who died and conquered the grave so that we could live and have a relationship with you, Amen.
--Michael and Meredith Cornish



God gave us our miracle the next day. He healed Emma's heart through the work of the surgeon. Even the doctor said it was unexplainable that she did so well. There was NO explanation except that God had His hand on her and His plans are not always under the governing of Earth's laws.

We are so blessed to celebrate Emma, a year later, as she sits up strong, pulls herself to standing, cruises along furniture, drinks from a straw, eats solid foods, and her personality has developed to where she loves to dance, to be held, and to play with her doll. What a wonderful God we serve! He is the Miracle Worker!!

I also want to thank all of you who lifted Emma up before the Throne. Your prayers are priceless, and so many that continue to pray for us, for Emma, and for all of our children-- we are forever grateful!

I wanted to send this out not just to thank those of you that supported us through this time, and to share with those that weren't yet around, but also to hopefully encourage anyone that's not quite sure of what difference you can have on a child's life. I assure you, with God the possibilities are endless. We didn't set out for the journey we're on... but God has used our willing spirits and able bodies to do more than we could have ever imagined in the lives of two little ones from Ukraine, and in our family and our hearts as well. He will use you, too, whether it be through adoption, prayer, or giving (after all- we wouldn't have either of our adopted children if it wasn't for the prayers of so many and the financial gifts of many others!).

Give each of your kids a big hug and kiss tonight! Thank God for the gift their life is! And remember that He's not done using you for His Kingdom :) I can't wait to see what testimony He may have for us at next year's 2 year heart anniversary!

Doctor update, 34 weeks :)

This morning's doctor visit went well. I brought Brianna along and she charmed everyone :) Last week Kristopher went with me and had a good time too. They each got to see the doctor measure my belly and then hear the heartbeat. Both were REALLY good! Brianna did exceptionally well since she's often shy with strangers- but not today! She walked everywhere, followed directions, was intrigued by what the doctor was doing, said hi and bye to everyone, even asked to be weighed too :) She did great! I hope that next week I'll be able to give my doctor some cards with my contact info so in the future if he has parents w/ a prenatal dx they might be able to contact me for info about 'real life' with Ds... not just what the books and doctors say. Our perinatologist already has some, as does the Women's Center at the hospital south of us.

I know that when we first received the diagnosis for Brianna it was really great to see other families with children with Ds, and to see just now normal their lives were together as a family. I had never really seen babies or toddlers w/ Ds, just older kids, so that was neat as well.

Anyway... doctor's visit went well. Baby had ADEQUATE GROWTH! YAY! LOL... Still on the small side, but enough growth in the past 2 weeks so there's no concerns about the baby. Good news! Next week I'll get the orders for another hemoglobin check. Just 2 more visits before we meet baby :) 5 weeks... now we just need a NAME! :D

Sunday, August 2

English-Russian-English

Friends of ours are coming over tonight for supper before they leave TOMORROW to go get their son! Ironically, they found this little guy online and committed to his adoption without realizing that he is a child that I have MET and resides at the same orphanage that Emma and Micah lived in! In fact, he was our second 'intended' child with Emma, but his paperwork wasn't ready so we got a blind referral instead. When I received their application to begin working with them through their adoption process we realized that not only are they very close by, but I have known their two sons for several years since they participated in the children's ministry when I was doing that. So, God is bringing their little one home to our town after all!

I wrote this letter for them to bring to the director of the orphanage, and included some photos... I put the letter through google-translate to change it to Russian, then did the Russian back to English to see if there's anything that really translated WRONG... It's kind of funny to read the 2nd English translation, but I think most of the ideas got across and that is the idea! :)

Hello!

We have been home with Emma (Daria) and Micah (Daniil) for almost 18 months now and they are growing and changing all the time!

Emma is now pulling herself up to standing and just learned to walk along furniture when she holds on. She’s going to start Kindergarten in just a few days and has a great teacher. Emma is happy, loves to be held, gives great hugs and especially loves to play in the bath tub or the swimming pool. She has a new bed that her grandfather adapted to keep her safe at night. Emma is 6 ½ now and weighs 31.5 pounds (14.3 kg) and is 37.5 inches tall (95 cm). Emma is starting to communicate more and is trying to use some sign language. She likes to play with her brothers and sister. Emma has three therapies each week to work on language, muscle growth, and using her hands (fine motor). She is learning to eat with a fork, how to walk along things, and how to use sign language.

Micah is going to be three years old in September and he weighs 26 pounds (11.8 kg) and is 34 inches tall (86 cm). Micah is walking! He is also using sign language and is such a happy boy, always smiling. He will start a preschool class in a few days and will be in the same class with his sister, Brianna. Micah has three therapies each week as well. He is learning to stack blocks and sort things, how to speak and use sign language, how to eat using a spoon and drink with a straw, and how to climb and get better balance. Micah loves water as well and has no fear in the pool!

Our other two children, Kristopher and Brianna, are doing great as well. They love their siblings! Kristopher will also be in Kindergarten and Brianna in preschool, and all 4 kids will be at the same school.

Our family is also about to grow by one- we are expecting another baby that is due the day before Micah’s 3rd birthday. 09 September, 2009. We will send word to Melissa and Mark if they are still in K when the baby is born. This baby is believed to be a healthy baby girl. We are so blessed to have each of our children!

We are glad to have friends that have traveled and to see so many of the children that I met while adopting our children come home! Darina (Mary), Dennis, Alosha (Aleksey), and now "S"! We hope that the family for "E" will be traveling very soon, and may have found a family for the four "K" children as well! We are excited to see all the children that have been raised at (the baby house) find families.

Thank you so much for the love and care you give to the children at (the baby house). So many families have been blessed by this facility as they have brought their children home! We still stay in touch with the K family and the F family and have seen the F once since coming home.

Maybe one day we will be back to visit! I hope to travel again to Ukraine- but maybe this time in the Spring or fall and not the coldest part of winter!

May the staff and children of Antoshka be blessed abundantly by God!

Michael and Meredith Cornish

Emma, Kristopher, Brianna, and Micah Cornish



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Здравствуйте!

Мы были дома с Эмма (Дарья) и Миха (Даниил) в течение почти 18 месяцев, и теперь они растут и изменения все время!

Эмма сейчас потянув себя до постоянного и только научился ходить вдоль мебели, если она имеет по. Она собирается начать детский сад в течение нескольких дней и имеет большой учитель. Эмма счастлива, любит быть проведено, дает большое обнимает и особенно любит играть в ванну или бассейн. Она имеет новую кровать, что ее дедушка с учетом держать ее безопасной в ночное время. Эмма 6 ½ сейчас и весит 31,5 фунта (14,3 кг) и 37,5 дюйма Телль (95 см). Эмма начинают общаться все больше и пытается использовать язык жестов. Она любит играть со своими братьями и сестрами. Эмма три терапии каждую неделю работать на языке, мышечные рост, и с помощью руки (штраф двигатель). Она учится едят с вилкой, как вместе ходить в частности, и о том, как использовать язык жестов.

Миха будет трех лет в сентябре, и он весит 26 фунтов (11,8 кг) и 34 дюймов Телль (86 см). Миха идет! Он также с использованием языка жестов и таким счастливым мальчиком, всегда улыбаются. Он начнется в дошкольном классе в течение нескольких дней, и будет находиться в том же классе с его сестрой, Brianna. Миха три терапии каждую неделю, как хорошо. Он учится стека блоков и сортировать вещи, как говорить и использовать язык жестов, как есть с помощью ложки и пить с соломой, и о том, как подняться и лучше баланс. Михей любит воду, а и не имеет никаких опасений в бассейн!

Наши два других детей, и Kristopher Brianna, делают большие, как хорошо. Они любят своих братьев и сестер! Kristopher будет также в детских садах и дошкольных Brianna, 4, и все дети будут в той же школе.

Наша семья также расти из-мы ожидали другого ребенка, который должен накануне МГМПГ 3 лет. 09 сентября, 2009. Мы вышлем слово Мелисса и Марк, если они все еще находятся в Краматорск, когда ребенок рождается. Этот ребенок считается здоровую девочку. Мы так благословил, чтобы каждая из наших детей!

Мы рады иметь друзей, которые путешествовали и увидеть так много детей, что я встречался во время принятия наши дети вернулись домой! Дарина (Мария), Денис, Alosha (Алексей), и в настоящее время Сергей! Мы надеемся на то, что семья для E будут путешествовать в самое ближайшее время, и, возможно, найти семью для четырех детей Карев, как хорошо! Мы рады видеть всех детей, которые были подняты на Антошка найти семей.

Большое вам спасибо за любовь и заботу вы дать детям Антошка. Поэтому многие семьи были благословил этого объекта, поскольку они привели своих детей домой! Мы по-прежнему оставаться на связи с семьей Kerley и Ficken семьи и видели Fickens раз после возвращения домой.

Может быть, один день мы будем в гости! Я надеюсь на поездки на Украину снова, но, возможно, на этот раз в весной или осенью, а не холодный часть зимы!

Пусть персонал и дети Антошка будет щедро благословил Бог!

Майкл Мередит и Корниш
Эмма, Kristopher, Brianna, и Миха Корниш



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Hello!

We were at home with Emma (Daria) and Micah (Daniel) for almost 18 months, and now they are growing and changing all the time!

Emma is now pulling himself up to standing, and only learned to walk along the furniture, if it is on. It is going to start kindergarten in a few days and has a great teacher. Emma is happy, likes to be held, gives great hugs, and especially likes to play in the bath or pool. She has a new bed, that her grandfather with a view to keep her safe at night. Emma is now 6 ½ and weighs 31.5 pounds (14.3 kg) and 37.5 Tell-inch (95 cm). Emma begin to communicate more and trying to use sign language. She loves to play with his brothers and sisters. Emma three therapies each week to work on the tongue, muscle growth, and through the hands (fine motor). She learns to eat with a fork, how to walk together in particular, and how to use sign language.

Micah will be three years in September, and he weighs 26 pounds (11.8 kg) and 34 inches Tell (86 cm). Micah goes! He is also using sign language and in such a happy boy, always smiling. It begins in pre-school class for several days and will be in the same class with his sister, Brianna. Micah three therapies each week as well. He learns to stack blocks and sort things, how to speak and use sign language, as is using a spoon and drink with straw, and how to get better balance. And he loves the water, but also has no fear in the pool!

Our other two children, and Kristopher Brianna, doing great as well. They love their brothers and sisters! Kristopher will also be in kindergarten and preschool Brianna, 4, and all children will be in the same school.

Our family is also growing because we are expecting another child, which should eve MICAH 3 years. 09 September, 2009. We'll call "M" and "M", if they are still in "K" when the child is born. This is considered a healthy baby girl. We are so blessed to have each of our children!

We are glad to have friends who travel and see so many children that I met during the adoption of our children come home! Darina (Mary), Denis, Alosha (Alex), and now "S" ! We hope that the family will be traveling to "E" in the very near future, and perhaps find a family of four children "K", as well! We are glad to see all the children who were raised on (the baby house) find families.

Thank you very much for the love and care you give to children (the baby house). Consequently, many families have been blessed this object, because they brought their children home! We still keep in touch with family and K F family and saw F again after returning home.

Maybe one day we will visit! I hope to travel to Ukraine again, but perhaps this time in spring or autumn rather than the cold of winter!

Let the staff and children (the baby house) will generously bless God!

Michael and Meredith Cornish
Emma, Kristopher, Brianna, and Micah Cornish