For us 2011 brought a new beginning with our family of 10! We welcomed Wesley and Aleksa home as 2010 rang out, and 2011 has been a year of growth in size, health, and development for all of our children, but especially our two newest additions. It brought a lot of firsts for James as well, who also joined us in 2010!
In January we brought in ther year with Brianna's 5th birthday and 40+ doctor and therapist visits between the eight children. Well visits for four kids, new specialist appointments for Wesley and Aleksa, ongoing therapy visits for James and Micah, heart issues with Lynae, anemia issues with Lynae and Brianna and a scare that led toward research on possible inherited anemia. Thankfully the last scare was just that and the girls are both just fine!
February was brought in with Wesley's 6th birthday followed by Emma's 8th birthday and Kristopher's 7th birthday! In the midst of that was also 3 years since our adoption of Emma and Micah! We had a great visit with Lyndi and family for a nice long weekend, and we went from two to six glasses-wearers amongst the kids! We also began orthopedic appointments for Wesley and looked toward scheduling his tendon lengthening surgery in the near future as well as a plan to attempt to relocate both of his hips. In February I took some time for me and participated in a women's Bible study at our church with the support of a wonderful church staff that worked with us to let our babysitter have Wesley and Aleksa in the church nursery so they would be close by and I could still attend the study. Mike and I also took a 20 hour reprieve and got a great deal on a one night stay at a fancy Orlando hotel. A last minute set up with babysitters worked out great, and after a busy four months leading up to that day, we took the time to refresh ourselves and enjoy some time alone. We are very grateful to have a support system that allowed us to do that! We also said GOODBYE! to bottles for both James and Micah in February! It took more work for James, but after a long weekend without a bottle and ALL of the bottles gone... they were both on sippy cups!
March was a fun and busy month! Our first vacation as a family of ten was a 22 hour drive to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for my sister Elizabeth's wedding! I was honored to be her attendant and we brought along a great sitter, Aimee, to help Michael with the kids while I was with my sister. We all had a great time visiting with extended family, meeting Elizabeth's new friends, and changing op our not yet established routine :). James, Brianna, and I also made our way over to Busch Gardens in March to meet up with James' foster mom and sister and the sister's new baby! It was so fun to spend the day with them and see James taking in the idea of both his 'mamas' in one place. He was in heaven! He liked the baby pretty well too and was glad to see Megan!
April was a long month with little sleep and much frustration. It began with a week in the hospital for Wesley's surgery and the news that his hips could not be relocated--ever. He wouldn't be able to stand or walk and likely would have pain later in life, but there was nothing we could do about it... If only we'd gotten to him sooner... That was the only thing the surgeon could tell us. Then home we went with Wesley in a Spica cast that went from his armpits to his knees with just a cutout for his diaper. In this contraption he needed constant attention day and night and cried every 20-30 minutes all night long needing to be repositioned. That didn't stop us from having a wonderful Easter with our growing family and enjoying the time together... Groggy as we were.
May brought hope with the removal of the Spica cast, the end of school, the beginning of summer, wonderful help from a new babysitter, and a renewal of sleep! We also had 4 or 5 IEP meetings in May in preparation for the new year, some of which were easier than others. It was the beginning of the end of Brianna's public school career, but we had a whole summer to go before we needed to worry on it. Brianna, Lynae, and I also took a quick weekend trip up to see Elizabeth again in Philadelphia! It was a nice girls' weekend while her husband was away and we enjoyed seeing her inlaws' horses as well as a train ride through Amish areas and just hanging out together!
June was great! It started off with Kristopher going to our church summer program, Summer CHAOS! We had fun adventures as a family to the science center and the zoo, we got in the swimming pool a bunch and enjoyed the warm weather and free schedule! Michael turned 30 at the end of the month and we celebrated with a game night with some friends. We ended June with a slew of tests to find out if we could pin down the GI issues James was having... Which all checked out fine so no causes were found.
July was HOT! We continued to enjoy the zoo and science center, our babysitter joining us for some excursions, and swimming, playing, and relaxing! In the middle of the month Michael and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary and did so with a weekend get-away to Orlando! Something we weren't sure we could pull off until it happened, we were glad for not just a run away refresh, but real time to enjoy each other and spend some time enjoying Orlando together. We spent two days at Universal Studios then saw LaNouba at Downtown Disney. It was a great way to celebrate ten years together and a lot of fun as well!
August ends our summer break, but it brought great things as well! We took James off of Pediasure to see what would happen to his hyperactivity levels and were amazed that his 2-3x/day spitting up episodes disappeared overnight! After a visit with GI, a Casein allergy was determined to be the cause. James turned 5 just a week and a half later and rang in his 5th year as his healthiest beginning in quite some time. School started just before his birthday and everyone was off to a good start. Kristopher, Aleksa, and Emma began 2nd grade, Wesley and Brianna started Kindergarten, and James and Micah began their k4 year. A bit of a rough start for Aleksa as we figured out classrooms, but she and Wesley began on a 3 day/week schedule and both acclimated to the classroom slowly.
September first was the anniversary of James' adoption! It was also the end of school for Brianna when the idea of a split schedule between inclusion and special Ed just wasn't to her benefit, and she began homeschooling and attending our church Kids'Adventure Days program with all typical peers 2 mornings a week along with Lynae (in different classes of course). September brought Lynae's 2nd birthday and Micah's 5th birthday, just one day apart! It was also the beginning of softball season for the church league which meant Friday nights at the ball field with all the kids to watch him play! Michael and Kristopher took a get-away weekend this month and spent two days at Sea World and the Mosi museum in Tampa. A "big guy" get-away for some special time with Daddy and Son, it was a lot of fun and an event to repeat again soon. Kristopher also started taking Karate lessons this month!
October came in with a four day trip of Michael's for work and my first time on my own for a few days with ALL of the kids. Everything went fine and we enjoyed the different schedule even though we missed having Michael around. Aleksa celebrated her first birthday at home and turned 9 in the middle of the month. The month ended with the annual Pumptober Fest at our church and our crew all dressing up as the "things" from Dr. Seuss. We had Thing 1-8, then the "Mother of all Things", "Father of all Things", and aunts, uncles, grandparents, and friends that all turned out to enjoy the festival together! We even won part of the costume contest :).
November was a busy month! It had great times and disappointments. A funeral for young friend and a first round of Botox for Wesley both happened in one day, followed by a trip to Tampa to meet a little boy who needed a family. We weren't meant to be that family, and that was clear, but there was some heartbreak in it as well. We began horseback riding lessons for Kristopher an "therapeutic riding" for our other 7 (including Lynae :) ). We all started the month off sick, and ended it with our first Thanksgiving at home with just the ten of us for lunch, then a visit to my parents' house to see family afterward. The day after Thanksgiving I left to meet Shelley Bedford enroute to Bulgaria! We were going to bring home her newest daughter, Annikah!
December was short, but exciting as well. I started it out in Bulgaria and came home just a few days in to the month. Then it was tree trimming, gift shopping, Jesus talking, celebrating, playing, and more celebrating! We had a little something extra to celebrate, as we learned we will be welcoming in a new Cornish at the end of July/early August of 2012! in addition to some jet lag at the beginning of the month and a nasty sinus infection I brought home from Bulgaria, morning sickness had set in while I was flying home with Shelley, and that made for a bit of a rough month for me! We are so very thankful that Michael had almost two weeks off of work at the end of the year and the family time we have had together has been wonderful! It has also been great having him home while I haven't been feeling well.
Christmas Eve with Michael's Parents!
After Christmas Eve Church Services!
Cookies for Santa...
Sprinkling Reindeer food around the yard!
Christmas Morning at Home!
Christmas afternoon with Meredith's Family!
We are looking forward to a great 2012 and are so thankful for the joys and trials that 2011 has brought! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!