Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pictures from the weekend

Isn’t this what brothers are for?

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Mike’s mom made this for their family something close to 20 or 25 years ago and it has graced their dining table each year at Thanksgiving in New Jersey since then.  I’m glad to be able to continue the tradition with the Cornish table covering for another year!  The centerpiece was made by my parents’ two boys- they painted the “pod” and decorated the things to go inside.  They did a great job!


We don’t get to see a whole lot of my brother, Robert, though he lives in town.  I was glad he was able to join us for Thanksgiving, and I think this is a great photo of him and our mom!


Kristopher and Brianna getting ready to go outside and play while we cooked on Thanksgiving.  Brianna’s bringing me Emma’s old shoes because we could only find one of hers (and ironically, today I can find only one of Emma’s new shoes…)

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Two of the “dads” in my life- and one super cute little girl too :)


My aunt and uncles (Dad’s brothers) came by after dinner for some pumpkin pie :)  We had a nice time visiting!


Doesn’t Micah look big?  Brianna was definitely lap-hopping on Thanksgiving!


And I think she made it into the most photos that way too!


YUM, Pumpkin Pie! (and a cheezy grin!)


The “big boys” played on the porch while the adults visited amongst the babies.  The toys might be aimed a little young for a 9 and 7 yr old, but they made themselves at home pretty quickly!


The boys each took a turn on the little tractor and insisted that everyone get their photo done too.  I can’t show the boys’ faces on the blog, hence the distortion.  I assure you they’re both adorable tho :)

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Hard to believe, looking at the last two photos, that K and T are 2 years apart!    They look almost the same size!


These are from Friday afternoon playing outside

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Kristopher playing with his friend O that lives across the street.  O is so tall!  He’s almost a year older than Kristopher :)

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This was after Bria had been sick in the morning and you can tell she’s still not quite up to par…

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Watching K climb the ladder, then pouting :)

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Here he goes… Kristopher can’t make it across on his own yet but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s doing it soon!

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This is from Saturday, and it’s an exciting picture!  Doesn’t look too exciting?  Maybe if you knew that ALL THREE little ones just finished eating by SPOON an ENTIRE MEAL then maybe you’d get excited with me!  Or maybe not ;)

Brianna fed herself yogurt and a cereal bar with a cup of milk.  Emma had about 6 oz of babyfood mixed with cereal to thicken it up a bit and then had about 10 oz of yogurt (with a vanilla wafer crunched in part of it) after that.  And Micah even ate!  He had 3.5 oz of apples and oatmeal!  YAY!!


One more hiccup

EDITED: I think I'm going to blame this rash on peaches for now... I'll give Emma a little Benadryl when Mike comes home (it's in the diaper bag) and we'll cut out any peaches. The past few days she's only had then twice, but once was this morning. That would explain why when I was holding her while she cried from having her leg stuck in the crib rails (not a fun way to wake up) and then later getting her dressed right after eating she didn't look so bad. But then as we walked out the door all the sudden it had spread and really looked bumpy and nasty. We'll see what some Benadryl and cream does for her (other than help her take a nap) and no more peaches for a while.


Emma’s cheeks have been a bit pink lately, nothing major, and a little dry feeling. Until today. Yesterday they looked pretty good after lotion, then today they look horrible! It wasn’t until we were all IN the van on our way to church that I noticed that it’s not just dry cheeks from the different weather, but it is all the way to the side of her neck and around her ear too… Now that seems more like a rash than dry or chapped skin. Of course it’s Sunday so I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to get her to be seen at the doctor’s office if it doesn’t get better during the day and overnight. The rash is bumpy and raised, blotchy, and on both cheeks and on just one side it goes around her jaw line and then up to her ear and back a bit from there (it’s not behind her ear). She has a little bit of it up along her hairline under her bangs… she doesn’t seem to have a rash anywhere else on her body. Though it doesn’t look to me like a Strep rash, I still would have to bring her to church and then find out she has a virus of some sort that caused it. The other kids all seem fine, though Micah also has pink cheeks- hence my not really worrying that it was anything. His look fine after lotion, not like hers!


It’s hard to take a picture of a kid that wants to suck on her stuffed dog and not be bothered, but you can see it in front of her ear and under her ear, the darker areas. It goes back to her hair line.


Fun stuff… could be nothing… could be Strep… could be a virus… could be an allergic reaction… Why am I thinking that all of those would show up on other parts of the body too though? Hopefully it’s just one of those passing things that throw you for a loop for a few hours then just go away!! :)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Enjoying the family

I haven't been online much the past few days as we've been enjoying time as a family :) I have a few pictures to share but otherwise we just had a nice time all visiting and spending time together.

Yesterday Brianna woke up thirsty, downed some milk then threw up. She threw up again in the tub and then again after drinking a little juice later on. She looked pale and laid on the toddler mattress in the family room and fell asleep during nap time but when she got up from nap she was up and at 'em and seemed just fine. It wasn't until I went to put her in bed that night that I found that she'd kept a milk cup in her bed all night. We're pretty sure she must have drank the spoiled milk first thing in the morning and that's what made her sick.

In the afternoon we went and played outside and measured out the playground area that we want to do something on the ground in. There are beautiful shade trees on that side of the house but that means there's also very little grass and there are a lot of roots. With all the kids wanting to be mobile out there we'd like to do something like mulch or something similar to make it more fun for them to play out there. Our neighbor's son also came over for a bit and played with Kristopher. They buried little keychain toys in the "give away" box and dug around to get them again, they played on the fort and they acted like boys with sticks :) They played really well together and it's one of the first times that they've played together for any length of time.

Today we got the porch/playroom cleaned up and also got the dining room cleaned up post-Thanksgiving. We then moved the dining room table out to the playroom and put up our Christmas tree in the dining room where it will show through the front window and not be accessible to the babies. We were able to get a new Christmas tree this year! For the past 7 years we've had the same $20 tree that we bought the first year when we got married, and it has worked fine for us until last year. There was still nothing wrong with our tree, but with 10' ceilings, our little almost 6' tall tree looked a little like Charlie Brown's Christmas Tree last year. We just couldn't replace it last year while preparing for the adoption and we figured we'd try to get one after Christmas maybe. That didn't happen either since we started packing soon after Christmas!

Well, I tried to go early and found a tree for less than $100 that is pre-lit and just in 3 pieces that have to be put together and 'fluffed'. With four little ones... that's my kind of tree! I was really pleased to be able to get a new tree this year and I hope we'll use it for another 7... or more... years. Now I just have to talk Mike into getting the decorations and skirt, etc. out of the attic so we can decorate it and get things looking like it's time for the holidays here!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Our story for Thanksgiving

Visit me today over on Yesterday I shared there about our family's adoption experience. All the who why and how are over there in a much more concise manner :)

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What does your Thanksgiving dinner look like?

As a kid growing up in the house I now live in I remember having Thanksgiving dinners with 12, 15, and 18 people in the house. Our family of 6 was usually only half of the guests and the other half consisted of my grandmother, my uncles, and always at least 3-5 'other' people. Someone that didn't have any family nearby and went to our church, a college student that couldn't afford to go home, a family that needed some where to 'land' since their little group of 3 didn't feel like Thanksgiving on their own. My parents were always very generous with their invitations and sincere as well.

It wasn't a Thanksgiving, but that reminds me of the time that one of my sister's friends came for Easter and after the invitation was extended and accepted, I found out that he was Jewish. I have to say I wonder what he thought of our Easter :)

Anyway, this year will be our family of 6, my parents' family of 4, and hopefully one of my brothers. Then in the evening my aunts and uncles will probably come by to join us for dessert and to visit. My parents and the boys will be here pretty early in the morning because she's bringing the turkey that needs to go in the oven! Then the kids will play on the porch and outside with the dog, we'll set the table, cook all of the side dishes, have an early lunch of sandwiches at around 11 along with crackers and cheese and celery with cream cheese and walnuts, we'll visit, make way more food than we'll eat that day, and just enjoy having family nearby. After the little guys are up from nap and of course after the turkey is finished cooking we'll have an early dinner around 3:30 or so.

My mom is bringing the bird, a green bean casserole, a cheesecake and dinner rolls. She's also bringing celery and she's bringing cherry tomatoes for the salad. I just finished making a pumpkin pie, I started the sweet potato dish, I'll make a corn bread pudding dish (YUM!), stuffing, the rest of the makings for a salad, and I have the other oddities that are a required part of our Thanksgiving dinner such as sweet and dill pickles, olives, canned cranberry sauce, turkey gravy, cream cheese and walnuts, crackers, and cheese.

I'm looking forward to spending the day with family tomorrow, to having our two newest children here to celebrate with us, to having all the great food we could ask for, and to eating leftovers for the rest of the weekend :)

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and don't forget to give the biggest "thanks" to the Father who has given us all we have to be grateful for.


The counts are tallied… 24 entries in total. And just for fun, here’s how complicated I made this on myself…

First, I had to figure out who gets 1 entry and who gets 2 (by checking blog entries). Then, when I determined that there were 24 entries, I put that into’s sequence generator and it gave me a list of 1-24, but all in random order. Then, I asked to do an integer generator with the numbers 1-24 and to pull 2 numbers out. I used those numbers and counted down my “random” list which left me with our two winners :0) Think it was random enough??









WINNERS: Please e-mail me with your shipping address!

I will send the books out shortly but I am waiting on delivery from the publisher.

Thanks again to Carole and Bunker Hill Publishing!

Our day in a nutshell

7:00 wake up to fussy Micah, give bottle and move to playpen in guest room where he goes back to sleep while not waking his brother (lay on the couch and pretend that I can go back to sleep that easily, ok, who am I kidding, I was out COLD)

8:30 everyone else wakes up after a late night the previous night

9:15 breakfast for Brianna, no one else is interested, phone call to renew services for Brianna for a year, phone call to pre-register the girls for their bloodwork

9:45 breakfast for Kristopher and Emma, another bottle for Micah, quick while their occupied take a shower

10:30 I'm dressed, one child is dressed, clothes are picked out, and my mom's here so I can take the girls

11:00 Yes I'm finally out the door with two kids, dressed, and mom watches the boys

12:00 back home with one semi-successful blood draw (finger stick after the first jab didn't work) and one that I didn't let them even put the needle on her because they couldn't find a good vein (next time we're going back to the children's hospital...)

12:45 lunch (yep, later than usual), Mike comes home to eat

1:15 Mike's mom comes by to pick up her pictures and she's headed to the airport in 30 minutes. I realize she's paying $50 to park their car there and instead offer to drive them

1:25 All the kids have clean diapers (again) and are in the car headed for grandma and grandpa's house. Good thing I didn't put them down for naps on time.

3:15 Pull back up to the house, B and M napped in the car so they trudge forward full blast as I start moving the kitchen table to clean the floors and take the big baby gate down so we can extend the table. Kristopher vacuums up the popcorn crumbs he spilled on the living room floor on Monday

4:30 speech therapist comes to work with all three little ones, I put the table back and start in on washing sweet potatoes while she works on feeding with Micah. K helps wash vegetables (with B watching from a stool) then we put them in to bake for a while. Set up the steam pot to start with frozen corn and carrots in it that will become baby food later on. ST works with Emma on early communication skills and E takes a break in the middle to eat a jar of BABY FOOD (yes, you read that right, she's been eating a jar 3x/day for 4 days now!!!) Brianna sits nearby and has a snack while E works (and B participates probably more than she does on her own time!) Then our ST switches over to B and works with her for a bit.

6:00 speech is done, Mike comes in with Chinese food and K, Mike, and I enjoy a little sweet and sour chicken and lo mein.

6:30 I start peeling the cooked sweet potatoes and K helps mash them up with a spoon in the big bowl. Tomorrow we'll add brown sugar and marshmallows and reheat them, but this one's pretty good even when it cooks the night before (especially since it takes so much time!)

7:15 Mike and K leave to go feed his parents' dogs and Brianna stands by the door screaming, goes and gets a jacket and tries to put it on, brings me Micah's shoes, and is basically miserable because Daddy left and didn't take her. Yes, she's still standing by the front door and I believe I hear her playing with glass babyfood jars. Must be time to rescue her...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

How to manipulate, lesson 4

"Kristopher, are you hungry right now or should we wait until after we do our pictures?" (asked in the car on our way to the photo session)

"I can wait"

"Are you sure? It's going to take a while..."

"Yeah, I can wait"

(upon second thought...) "I think we'll go now anyway, it's going to be really late when we finish."

"Ok, we can go to McDonald's now instead of waiting if you want to."

(um... when did we say we were going to McDonald's???)

How to manipulate, lesson 3

"Kristopher, are your socks on yet?"

"I'm getting them on" (sound of toy space shuttle comes from bedroom)

"Then why do I hear your toy?"

"I don't know, but I'm getting my socks on, I'm finding them, oh, found two"

"Do you have socks on now?"

"getting them on"

"Come show me"

"well, ok" (sows me two socks-- on his feet!-- that don't match...)

"Those socks don't match."

"Yes they do, (looks at socks) They do, they match, Mom"

"I guess they'll keep your feet warm at least..."

How to manipulate, lesson 2

"Kristopher, go put socks on"

"Oh, ok" (leaves and comes back inside his mesh 'pop up' hamper)

"You weren't gone very long, are you sure you have socks on?"

"Yes, I have socks on." (thinking I can't see his feet inside the hamper)

"Then why can I see your feet? GO PUT ON SOCKS."

I'm thankful for... #5

In the last year there has obviously been one life event that has taken the majority of our time, energy, and resources. I almost feel bad that everything comes back to talking about our adoption, but reality is that this time last year we'd submitted our paperwork and were waiting on a travel date knowing that the child we were trying to get to was in an institution somewhere. Those thoughts didn't consume our days, but they did partially consume our thoughts. I spent three months in a state of constant prayer- probably the most I've prayed in my life. From October 30th until January 23rd I knew that Sasha was transferred, but we had no idea where. Some institutions in Eastern Europe have low staffing, very little food, and little knowledge of what children with disabilities could accomplish. If a child is mobile (as Sasha was) then they are placed in a cot and literally tied to it to "protect" themselves and others. After all, if they were up and walking then they'd need to be supervised...

Every minute of every day I think a prayer for Sasha was going through my mind.

Of course, I still had to function, still had to care for the two children I had at home, still was doing childcare for a friend's baby during the day, and still had things to do.

During this time I sent my first e-mail out to our church prayer team letting them know our plans to adopt and the current way things were going. Those next 3 months I received our travel date then left for Ukraine and the overwhelming support of our church family was wonderful. They covered us in prayer including praying over us before we left for Ukraine. They called, offered babysitting, they listened to me ramble on when I just needed to talk.

Aside from those things that they did in an outward fashion, many people from our church put a financial blessing toward our adoption as well. Some did it online through our family sponsorship page, others mailed us a gift card or even a check, and others walked up to us and handed us a bill or a check for any range of amounts. Every one held the same message though- We believe in what you're doing and we want to be a part of it. Even our church staff (Mike is on staff there) did a collection personally and the day before we left gave Mike a card at his staff meeting including a generous amount of money.

When we were overseas many church members left messages on here- the blog- encouraging us, answering some of our many questions, and just saying "hi" and that they cared. When we had to reroute paths, more prayers, support, and tears were brought forward for us and shared through comments on here and e-mails.

When Mike made it home he was met with excitement from our church, offers to help, and continued to be covered in prayer. Three weeks later when I brought our new children home our church stepped forward again and provided us with dinners for several days, people dropped by with diapers, formula, hand-me-down clothing, and always a prayer, a word of encouragement, and again, sometimes a financial gift for some of the 'essentials' that we'd now need with two infants. Someone offered to grocery shop for me those first few days, someone else offered to keep Kristopher and Brianna for some of our earliest appointments, and even to attend an appointment with me to help with the multiple kids being seen.

In the past 8 months being home our church continued to provide us prayerful support through the prayer chain, encouragement on here and in person. One person took it on herself to provide us with formula since we came home and has continued to help with the pediasure/ensure that we give to Emma. When Emma went for her tonsils and then heart surgery we again were overwhelmed with support both prayerful and physically as people stepped in to help with the other kids at home. Some people stopped by randomly and brought a meal for Mike and the kids or dropped by a card for gas to help us with the trip to St. Pete.

Our church family has been a vessel of God's love and in a very tangible way has been Jesus' hands and feet to us this year.

I'm thankful for our church family!

How to manipulate, lesson 1

"Kristopher go put some socks on, it's cool in here and you're already wearing shorts."

"It's not cold, it's nice, I don't need socks."

"Your feet are ice cold on my arm, go put some socks on even if you don't think you need them."

"Ok, (pause) I'll go close my bedroom door." (off he trots)

"I didn't ask you to close your bedroom door, I told you to go put socks on."

Monday, November 24, 2008


Quick, take this chance to link up for the contest! It ends Tuesday at midnight and the winner of the UP CLOSE: A MOTHER'S VIEW book will be drawn on Wednesday!!!

I have two books to give away and you can get 2 entries!

Emma's Orthotist Appointment

Today was Emma's appointment with the orthotist. We expected to go and be fitted for DAFO's (dynamic ankle foot orthotics) and sized for knee immobilizers. Our PT went with us though and she and the orthotist had some talking to do :) The discussion was mostly about two scenarios.. a DAFO and a knee brace or a full leg brace that starts at the hip and goes down to the foot.

Though they talked about it for quite some time, the final decision was that even though the full leg braces are likely what's in store down the road for Emma, they would be too heavy for her unstable hip to support right now. Basically, if we were to pick her up under her arms without providing support for her legs, it could dislocate her hip. So instead we'll be getting Sure Steps (a foot orthotic, the same type that Brianna had) and a custom knee brace that will allow her to flex her knee but not to hyperextend it.

Unfortunately, this plan meant that Emma had to be casted from her thigh to her calf in order for them to make the knee braces. Needless to say, she was NOT happy about this process. Kristopher went down with us as I thought he'd enjoy seeing what they were doing and I was right, he did enjoy it! Though he thought they were going to cut off her leg at one point...

The casting process is just like they do for a broken bone but without the 'stuffing'. The orthotist put a nylon sock over her leg then proceeded to use the wrapping which they dip in water, wrap on the outside of a cast, and it then hardens as it dries. In her cast he put a piece of thick rubber down the back of it so that he could saw it off and not cut her skin :) The electric buzz saw cut into the rubber instead as it went up the back of the leg (yeah, can you HEAR her screaming???) then he took scissors and cut the nylon stocking off.


Anyway, 3 weeks from now we will have another appointment and hopefully have the Sure Steps and custom knee braces to help her with standing and baring weight!

Tell me it was worth it... please, someone tell me it was worth it!!

(PS. I'm so thankful that Mike's Dad took the time out of his morning to watch Brianna and Micah because I have no idea how we would have fit 4 of us in this little office, much less consoled the THREE that would have been screaming by the end! THANK YOU!)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

On their way...

When I was in Ukraine I had the joy and pleasure of being able to bring back with me information about some children in my children's orphanage. One of these little girls absolutely stole my heart. Her name is Darina and she has cerebral palsy, though you'd never know if you weren't told! Darina ran to me with arms stretched out yelling "mama, mama, you're so beautiful, I love you, you're so pretty, my mama, my mama..." Of course I wasn't there to bring her home, but just to take photos of her in hopes of finding her a forever family. Darina was already over 4 years old and wouldn't be able to stay at the orphanage much longer, and I spent many nights pleading with God to bring her a family. She stole my heart.

God came through in such God-like fashion providing a family that already had their dossier (paperwork) complete! Darina's family is leaving on Tuesday to go to Ukraine and meet their new daughter. Her new name will be Mary, and what a blessing she will be to her new family!

Click this button to go to her family sponsorship page where you can learn more about her family as well as donate, if you would like to.

Grab This Button

Her family has also given us a gift- they will hand-carry a letter to the orphanage for us with an update on Emma and Micah! Here is what I wrote, then the letter again in Russian-- this time translated by a Ukrainian friend (not google translator... learned that lesson already!). Unfortunately, with the crash of my laptop, I wasn't able to print photos to mail to the family for them to bring with them, but I did attach a recent photo of each of the kids to the bottom of the letter. I'll have to mail the photos later, but that is fine as I just want to hear the director's response to our update on the kids more than anything else! That's why I wanted so badly for the letter to be hand delivered :)

Dear Antoshka friends,

I’m so glad to have the opportunity to send you more news of our little Emma (Daria) and Micah (Daniil)! We have been home for 8 months now and both children are doing great!

Emma had just had her open heart surgery when I last sent news with Denis’s family (the little guy with the missing eye/malformed socket). She did great and was out of the hospital in just 4 days! She came home on oxygen during the night but is now off of that as well. She has gained 11 pounds since coming home and is now eating baby food from a spoon! She’s sitting up, making lots of sounds, and is very strong. Her face has filled out too and she is very healthy! Emma has learned to put weight on her feet and soon will get braces to help her learn to stand and maybe even walk one day. Twice a week Emma goes to a facility where she has physical therapy and works on strengthening her muscles. Once a week a speech therapist comes to the house to help her learn to communicate better. Right now we are working on having her use pictures to identify things and have her repeat behaviors that we do. She is learning quickly! Emma also has a teacher come to our home twice a week and work with her on doing small tasks like putting together a puzzle and turning pages on a book. She is now very good at rolling a ball and she, Brianna, and Micah have a great time sitting on the floor playing ball together! She has come a long way and is such a blessing to us all.

Aside from the physical things, Emma is smiling a lot, is always laughing, and is very loving. She will make her way across the room (she is not crawling so she scoots on her back or rolls) to sit with Mike or I and will hold up her hands to be picked up as well.

Micah is doing great too! He is now able to sit very well, is crawling all over the place, and he’s learned to pull up to standing and to walk along furniture or while holding someone’s hand. Micah goes to a school program 2 mornings each week for 4 hours where he is in a class with other typically developing children that are his age. There he has a physical therapist come work with him every other week to get stronger and teach him how to walk properly. Micah is now taking some baby food by spoon and also is drinking bottles still. We are working now on trying to help him to drink better because we have learned that when he swallows some of the liquid is going into his lungs. He also has reflux, which is also going into his lungs sometimes. These are why he had pneumonia and upper respiratory infections so often and we’re working to find the best solution to help stop this. Even though he is having these troubles, he is still healthy and strong and has gained 11 pounds since coming home. He is a very sturdy little guy now!

Micah is very loving and likes to lay and snuggle, give kisses, and to have attention. He has gotten a lot more teeth and soon will be able to chew foods properly. We are very encouraged by his progress!

Both of the children are doing great and we are very glad to see them doing so well. It is amazing what a difference the heart surgery made in Emma. She has a very strong testimony of God’s plan being laid out in her life.

Emma’s and Micah’s story of coming home and adjusting to life in a family will be published as one of the short stories in a book called Gifts 2 in early 2010. We are happy to share what God has done for our family with many others!

Also, as a result of Emma and Micah’s wonderful transformations and the many times that only God could be the one to have provided for them, several other people have decided to adopt a child with Down syndrome. Three of those families already have their new children home and another 3 are in the process of adopting right now. God’s love for children is amazing and the ability of children- even those with disabilities and health trouble- to overcome and thrive is simply amazing.

I hope one day to be able to visit again when another adoptive family is coming through, but until then I will continue to send photos and notes to you and I hope they find you well.

Thank you for your heart for adoption and for helping the children find families. Your love for the children is apparent in helping them to be adopted.


Meredith and Michael Cornish

Adoptive parents to Emma and Micah (Daria Ostepchuk and Daniil Deshenko), both with Down syndrome

And Kristopher and Brianna

Дорогие друзья из «Антошки»,

Я рада возможности рассказать вам новости о маленькой Эмме (Дария) и Михее (Даниил). Они с нами уже 8 месяцев и у обоих детей все прекрасно.

Эмме только что сделали операцию на сердце, когда я передавала новости с семьей Дениса (малыш без глаза и с неразвитым глазным отверстием). Все прошло отлично и ее выписали из больницы через четыре дня после операции! Сначала Эмме нужен был кислород по ночам, но теперь она уже не нуждается и в этом. Она набрала около 5 кг. после ее переезда и уже ест детское питание с ложки! Она может сидеть и производить много звуков. Она очень сильная. Ее лицо округлилось. Эмма очень здоровая девочка. Ее ноги окрепли. Скоро ей подберут ортопедические подпорки, чтобы помочь ей учиться стоять и даже ходить. Два раза в неделю Эмма ходит к физтерапевту, чтобы развивать и укреплять мышцы. Раз в неделю к нам домой приходит логопед, чтобы помочь ей лучше общаться. Сейчас мы учим ее использовать картинки для опознавания предметов и имитировать наши действия. Она быстро все схватывает. Есть еще один учитель, который приходит два раза в неделю и работает над простыми навыками: листать книги, собирать пазлы, и т.п. Эмма научилась катать мячик и теперь она играется на полу с Брианной и Михеем. Она для нас такое благословение!

Помимо физического развития, Эмма много улыбается и постоянно смеется. Она очень любящий ребенок. Она перекатывается или перемещается на спине с одного конца комнаты в другой (она еще не ползает), чтобы сидеть со мной и Майком. Она протягивает ручки и просится наруки.

У Михея тоже все отлично! Он хорошо сидит, постоянно ползает, научился подтягиваться и вставать, ходит, держась за мебель или за руку. Михей ходит в школу два раза в неделю на четыре часа по утрам. Там он занимается с типичными детьми его возраста. В школе с ним работает физтерапевт два раза в месяц. Он занимается укреплением мускулатуры и учит Михея ходить правильно. Он ест детское питание с ложки и пьет молоко из бутылочки. Мы пытаемся научить его пить лучше, потому что, когда он глатает, часть жидкости уходит в легкие. Также, у него рефлюкс, который тоже иногда идет в легкие. Поэтому у него было воспаление легких и частые респираторные инфекции. Мы пытаемся найти хорошее решение этой проблемы. Несмотря на эти сложности, Михей здоровый и сильный ребенок. Он набрал около 5 кг. после его приезда. Он крепкий малыш.

Михей любит обниматься, целоваться и любит внимание. У него появилось больше зубов и скоро сможет правильно пережевывать еду. Его развитие очень нас ободряет.

У обоих детей все впорядке и мы рады их успехам. Удивительно, насколько операция на сердце изменила Эмму. Она сильное свидетельство Божьего плана в ее жизни.

История Эммы и Михея – их приезд и привыкание к жизни в семье – войдет в сборник рассказов под названием «Gifts 2» в 2010 г. Мы рады рассказать другим людям, что Бог для нас сделал!

В результате того, что только Бог мог дать Эмме и Михею все, что им было нужно, и удивительных перемен в их жизни, несколько людей решили усыновить ребенка с синдромом Дауна. Три семьи уже забрали детей и три семьи проходят процесс усыновления. Бог любит детей. Это удивительно. Также удивительно то, как дети, даже дети-инвалиды и больные дети, могут перебороть сложности и процветать.

Я надеюсь, что я смогу приехать опять, сопровождая новую семью. А пока я буду посылать фотографии и письма. Я надеюсь, что у вас все хорошо.

Спасибо за ваше участие в усыновлении и за то, что вы помогаете детям найти их новые семьи. Ваша любовь к детям очевидна.


Мередит и Майкл Корниш, приемные родители Эммы и Михея (Дария Остепчук и Даниил Дешенко), обои с синдромом Дауна,

и Кристофер и Брианна

I'm thankful for... #4

I'm so very thankful for my wonderful friends. Both in the "real world" and here in cyberspace!

So many people have helped us through this adoption by leaning a shoulder to us or lending us an ear, by giving advice on where to go, who to see, what to try, and what NOT to do! People have stepped out and helped us financially with the costs of adopting, they've helped us by volunteering their time to watch our children, and they brought us meals when we first came home. Others lent us furniture, gave us clothes, and dropped off diapers for months after we arrived. Some have invited us out, others been willing to come here- despite the activity levels sometimes!

I'm so thankful that God has provided us with such a strong group of friends that have stood by us during this adventure and that love on us despite our failures.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I'm thankful for... #3

Sometimes the biggest bessings are the most apparent when they're not as available. WHAT?

We have been blessed to have 4 grandparents that all live nearby. Mike's parents live 5 minutes in one direction, my parents 10 minutes in another (and 2 minutes from our church). Both sets of grandparents are so helpful when it comes to helping out with the kids so that everyone doesn't have to go to all of the other kids' appointments. At a moment's notice I could call either set of grandparents and they would generally be willing to take a kid or two... or three... so that I could run one up for bloodwork, a last minute doctor's sick visit, or to schedule out times for surgeries and other appointments and procedures.

All the grands are still around but recently my parents have acquired two new sons and Mike's mom has started working full time. I'm so glad for those first 8 months we were home and the 2 months I was in Ukraine because those 10 months our parents really made things much easier for us as we transitioned from 2 to 4 kids and took care of a slew of appointments for the new little ones. (I just counted doctor's appointment visits up... 28 between Emma and Micah since March, and 25 days in a hospital (including outpatient)... 6 different hospitals...)

I'm thankful for GRANDPARENTS! Both sets of grands are still so willing to help out either when their kids are at school or after work is done for the day and their desire to spend time with our kids is also a blessing.

And today, I'm also thankful that Mike's grandmother- "Great Gram" has come through her shoulder surgery without any problems. It was a last minute thing that was scheduled for this morning and I understand she is doing well.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Micah's swallow study is scheduled

December 12th. Still a ways off, but first they told me they were booked until January, so I'm glad there was a cancellation here so we can get it done sooner. It's still a good 3 weeks away but considering he's 2 years old and has likely always had this problem, 3 weeks will be fine!

And PS...
I don't let the kids lay on the floor (though they want to) and I don't let them crawl (only stand/walk) if the dr's office is one that services 'sick kids'. This was a diagnostics waiting room, which I understand also harbors germs but so does a shopping cart and a playground... :)

And PPS...
It took me about 6 hours to write that long post because I only sit down for 5 minutes at a time :) Nap time I finally finished up and posted!! LOL

For those of you using a feed...

Don't forget to join in the fun give away! The contest post is staying at the top of my blog for those who visit the actual site, but it doesn't refresh when edited on the RSS feeds :) Here's the link, come join in! Two copies of UP CLOSE: A MOTHER'S VIEW will be given away on Wednesday! Link up by Tuesday night!

Another button down...

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Grab This Button


Last week I took Micah to the children's hospital for his Upper GI study. After the study we went out to the waiting room and were waiting to hear what the next step was. We sat quietly, Micah on my lap, then standing by my legs, then crawling away. He stood at a small kid's table and played with a book I'd brought, he walked along a long cushion made for climbing, and he crawled across the floor to come back to me- realizing he was a few feet away. In my opinion, nothing that would be seen as unusual...

Across the room from us (this is a large waiting room built just for kids in the diagnostic waiting area) is a mother and presumably her teenage son... but possibly the baby's father?? That one I never did quite figure out. Mom is obviously older but it seems to me this is her first child. Maybe the son is hers and the girl is a granddaughter? Anyway, she looked at me like I was evil for letting my child get down on the floor and as hers squirmed and tried to get out of her arms, squealing and twisting, I'm sure she was just a bit envious as well. After a few dirty glares as I redirected Micah to the areas I was letting him play in I started the conversation and asked how old her little girl is. 10 months. I should have seen it coming, but didn't really think about it (nor care) and she asked how old Micah is. "Two." Long silence...

Ok, she doesn't really seem to notice that he has Ds, at least I didn't get that impression. So why is my 2 yr old crawling, cruising, and obviously not near walking yet? I see the thoughts racing through her mind as she then puts her daughter's feet on the ground, holds onto both of her hands, and lets the wobbly tippy toe'r make her way around the room. It was almost like the trot down the cat walk where you walk down, turn, pose, turn, pose, then go back... Quite funny in my eyes at the time.

I said nothing, didn't necessarily watch them but of course they were right in front of me. Micah was back to playing with a book on my lap when the 'mom' says to me "She's doing so good walking, I'm sure she'll be there soon." There. She said it. I knew she I wanted to, but I wasn't really believing she would. "Oh, that's great. She'll be there before you know it." Ok, I don't mind playing into parents' fantasies of the early walker that talks and does math facts before their first birthday. Fine by me, but it's definitely not what I'm striving for...

Then the... young boy... whatever that relationship might be... starts saying that his friends are in a class break and they were texting. The mom says "tell them to meet you at the lockers, then they'll be late for class!" Um... yeah, that's nice to do to your friends. Of course, my mouth is shut. This is about the time that I started thinking that mom is grandma to girl and son is dad... but still, who knows.

Next thing I know the 'mom' is walking around carrying the 10 month old girl and walks up to a painting. "Kite, look at the kite." The baby points. Good good, teaching the child words, using the time waiting to do something resourceful... teach the child. "Kite, look, that's a kite!" Then they walked to another picture "Kite, see the kite?" At this point I could see them in my peripheral vision and realized... that wasn't a kite. Not in either picture. It's a windmill. You know, the kind that are 5 different colors and on a stick for kids to blow? This was a bigger one stuck in the ground with a closeup picture of it with a grassy field behind it. That was NOT a kite...

Another family entered the room and sat down. Their chubby little girl we soon heard was a year old and just adorable. She had her thick black hair pulled up in tight braids to her head and wore little shining earrings and a cute little dress. There was an older sister along too and she was 2 years old- and about 3 feet tall. "How old is your son?" "Two." "Really? He's tiny" (as in, smaller than my 1 yr old...". "Yes." Polite, kind, smiling, no dirty looks. Nice people, cute kids.

At this point I realized that so many social stigmas still exist for raising children. I don't generally stop and think about it because within my realm of mommy friends- most of them don't hold to these stigmas.

Some parents think they need to appear to be the best, the fastest, their child the smartest, most developed, and that they need to have it "all together" all the time. Problem being, they slip up and 'real life' hits between the exterior and they tell their kid to make his friends late for class, they teach their child that a windmill is a kite, and in reality, you realize that they are really not a very kind person, much less educated (ok, so that might be taking it a step far, but you know what I mean..). They've got on a facade and are trying to show that things are perfect, when reality says it's far from it.

Then there's the family with the REAL perfect family. And unfortunately, this family will be looked down on still more often than the first family. Simply because of the color of their skin. The family with the 1 and 2 yr old daughters was black. Somehow, though it shouldn't in any way, I could see in her face the question of whether she would be accepted in that room. Why wouldn't she? Her children were adorable, well behaved, and she was kind.

Then there was me. Micah is kid #4, I'm not worried about what everyone else sees us as, and yes... it's obvious to many people that Micah has a disability. Do I come across as superficial and trying to put up the "perfect family" front? I hope not! Do I come into a room wondering if the obvious differences in my family will make a difference that day? YES, sometimes... And I can't blame the other mom for wondering as well... she's obviously had some difficult experiences in life-- or even just with hospitals maybe-- that make her question her acceptance.

So where do you fall? Are you secure in your parenting? Do you need to prove yourself? Are you beaten down by previous encounters with difficult (and generally stupid) people? What do people think of you in that waiting room while you're sitting at the hospital? I'd love to know what people actually think of me. I wonder if it's anything close to what I think myself...


Kristopher came in while I was getting clothes out today and told me that he and Brianna are pretending and they want to adopt me. He's the daddy, Brianna is the sister but she's his princess too, and I'm their kid. They'd like to name me Mewedif (pronounced by Kristopher!). It's ok that it's my real name, they'll name me that too. Then he and Brianna pranced back off to go play. I love pretending!!


I picked up all the scripts and blood work orders and info from the doctor's office yesterday! I've had a stack accumulating for a few weeks probably. It's time to get them filled! Blood work for Emma, PT/OT/ST scripts for her, DAFO script, and a swallow study script for Micah.

Monday I take Emma down to be fitted for her DAFO's and knee immobilizers. I got a call from her PT yesterday saying that she wanted to go with us if it was ok. She wants to talk with the person making the orthodics so that together they could come up with the best fit for something that will help Emma, and they wanted Emma there to do it. We really are blessed with a great team of therapists! I'm thankful she's willing to go out of her way to do this for us.

Here's a little about the orthodics... Emma is starting to put weight on her feet!! It's wonderful! The problem here is that she hyperextends her knees so badly that she needs support at the ankle and knees to properly extend and bare weight. A DAFO (dynamic ankle foot orthodic) that keeps the ankle just a little bent will help with her knees hyperextending and keep her feet square under her. A knee immobilizer will keep her from hyperextending at night in her crib by resting her feet on the rails and letting them sit that way all night. But... would a full length leg brace work better? One with a joint at the knee that allows it to flex but not hyper extend? One that supports up to the hip? We're not sure what the path is quite yet, but Emma also has a tendency to pop her left knee out of the socket whenever she's really upset. So the ankle and knee both need good support and we just have to figure out what we need to do to do that... Monday will tell more.


I'm noticing more and more lately that the effects that the orphanage had on Emma are long lasting and still 'rearing their heads' in new ways. For instance, here's a situation... she has started chewing the nipples of her bottles and has chewed holes in a majority of them. I've been throwing them away and buying more, but they're not really supposed to just be disposable and also aren't priced to be! So we're trying to get her to stop chewing on them and just to drink and put it down. We've given her other things to chew on, chewy toys and bibs... but she still chews on the bottles. After a few days of this I started taking the bottle away and saying "no" very pronounced to her when she started chewing. I'll also cup her face and rub her cheeks- a calming thing for her- when I talk to her. She would immediately retract and not just startle, but look afraid and curl her arms in, fist her hands, and open her eyes wide.

Of course I hate that she looks to be scared and I've tried to be more subtle, but still, she associated that she's getting "in trouble" chewing the bottle and continues to do so... yet when she has the bottle taken from her and is told no- regardless of how gently and smooth toned, she pulls her arms in and tucks her fisted hands and looks up with wide eyes. What has happened in her past to make her so affected by food and to be so afraid?

We've seen similar things with her eating her socks. I bet you never thought about socks as choking hazards before, have you? Emma cannot wear socks without shoes or she pulls them off and shoves them- THE WHOLE THING- in her mouth. She gets a little squirrel look on her face and gnaws on them until they're removed from her mouth. Usually just one sock at a time, though. (and this also has put holes in quite a few socks... those aren't meant to be disposable either...)

When I would first find her with the socks in her mouth I would try to remove it by opening her jaw (kind of pushing on the cheeks) and take the sock out. Then she realized that this was bad and she started retracting when she was caught- before I even got to her. Now she will take a sock out of her mouth- usually- given the verbal prompting to do so. But sometimes she doesn't and I have to go pull it out of her mouth. These times I'll tell her a firm "no" because she didn't take it out on her own.

It amazes me the strong reactions she has at times and makes me more aware that she was not just in a bed for 5 years, there were likely nice people with patience and not so nice people with very little patience that were her caregivers. A strong voice doesn't startle her, but directed at her when she knows she's doing something she shouldn't be- she pulls in tight. We have a lot to work through in that area still. And I am still learning how to teach her without having her be fearful that I will hurt her too...


We have a crib mattress on the floor for Brianna to learn walking on soft surfaces. It also works as a toy for Emma and Micah to crawl (or scoot on her back) up on to. Kristopher thinks it's a trampoline. Mike has taken to helping the kids do somersaults on it and flips them over quickly. Yes, we've had the kids' necks checked ;) (except Bria's who we're a bit more careful with for now). The kids giggle and laugh out loud when they go on there.

I've also discovered it's a great therapy tool for Emma in even more ways! I can get her into four point on there without the worry that when she comes out of it (aka falls) she will hit her head. She likes to hit her head... she thinks it's funny. And it doesn't matter whether it was her fault or someone else's. Case in point, we had company the other night and I was 'dipping' Emma and she was laughing. Brianna walked under us and I didn't realize it and the two bonked heads when I brought Emma down. Brianna of course was horrified that her head was bonked, but Emma laughed.

Anyway, Emma does great on the mattress and we've worked on holding 4-point (crawling position), being up on her extended arms on her tummy, and tall kneeling up against the side of it. Who knew the mattress we had in the garage the past few months would be such a neat therapy tool?


I've been slowly trying to write down the therapy and school stuff for Emma. The newest update is that she hasn't been evaluated for OT and PT because they thought she wasn't going to receive services until March when they expected her to come to the classroom. We've decided not to put her in a classroom this year since the only one available for her right now is a good 30 minutes away and I cannot see that she would benefit THAT MUCH from me driving 2 hours each day with the other 3 kids to get her there and back. We'll continue with her home teacher 2 hours/week and hopefully get these therapies going soon too. But.. since I waited the 8 weeks they told me to before bringing this up... now they're telling me it's going to be another 6-8 weeks before she can be evaluated because they're just now putting her back on the list to be scheduled. Hmm... this doesn't sit right with me. That means that it will have been 4 months with no school services before they get her started. That means it would likely be January before they even do an evaluation.

I (kindly) said that I didn't think this was right since Emma has waited the 8 weeks that we were told. I don't think it's appropriate to have to wait another 8 weeks because one person left the meeting with a different thing written in her notes. Regardless of misconceptions, the reality is she NEEDS therapy and the school is required to PROVIDE therapy, and that has yet to happen. I understand that they'll be doing the evaluation "as soon as they can schedule it..."


On Wednesday night all three kids had GREAT speech sessions! Micah ate an entire 4 oz jar of baby food with a spoon!!! And... it only took 25 minutes! Generally he finishes about 3 ounces in a 30 minute session if that much. He has the strongest tongue thrust I (and his ST) have ever encountered but he is beginning to want the food, which is helpful!

Emma was given a baby doll to pretend play with and after being shown once how to feed the baby and mix in the bowl she did it! She took the spoon, clinked the bowl, and put it to the baby's mouth (then her own!). Now... someone tell me again that her cognitive age and her 'performance' have too small of a variance to qualify for speech therapy? Say it again? She is LEARNING SO MUCH!

Brianna was a bit more of a stinker for her session, but she chats and babbles and 'helps' during the other kids' sessions and does better with theirs than she does with her own. She's really imitating more sounds lately and is doing wonderful :)


As for Micah's aspirating, I've been trying to schedule the swallow study but had to wait for a script from the doctor and yesterday I called and left a message at the hospital but haven't heard back. I'll call again in a few minutes. A swallow study is basically done similarly to the upper GI from my understanding and has a speech therapist there as well. They use barium and an x-ray machine still but will slowly thicken the liquid until they find a texture that is 'safe' for him to swallow without aspirating it. This should be interesting getting him to drink/eat it. I think it also is a 'starved' procedure so he might just be hungry enough to cooperate.

Until then, though we haven't been given any instructions to do so, we're thickening all of his bottles. If we know he's aspirating, and he sounds AWFUL junky in his chest a lot of the time, then this just makes sense. When I asked the doctor I was told there are no special instructions though... Hmm....

Best case scenario we're talking about thickening his foods for a while and more reflux medications. Worst case scenario we're talking about a fundo and g-tube. Either way he'll still be getting calories and growing and doing, and how he's fed isn't the end of the world. Been there done that with Brianna and though I don't wish a feeding tube on anyone, once you've done it you realize it's not as scary as it may sound.

Hopefully we can control it with diet and medication though!


If you made it this far feel free to applaud yourself! Especially since I still can't get any pictures off my camera. My computer was shipped off today for repair though, so I'm hopeful that I'll have it back soon.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I'm Thankful For... #2

I'm thankful that I don't have to worry about tomorrow and what it brings. Yes, I need to be accountable to yesterday and today and tomorrow, but I don't need to worry. Jeremiah 29:11 is a "life verse" for me. It goes like this "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."

Each day is a gift, and I want to live out each gift, not wonder or worry for what the next day might hold. Because God has plans for me, for my children, and for all of His children, and those plans are to help us not hurt us, I can put that aside and not worry. Do we live in a fairy tale? No way. Far from it. Do bad things happen every day? Absolutely. Do they happen to good people? Innocent children? Followers of God? Yes, Yes, and Yes. Does God have a plan? He says He does, and I believe it.

And not only that, it's for a HOPE.

Yes, this is the verse that we named Emma HOPE for. We knew she needed a HOPE and a FUTURE, and God has proven himself time and time again that He is on the throne with our little Emma Hope.

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I'm Thankful For... #1

April comments here often which brought me to her blog a few months ago. Her beautiful family of 4 are so fun to keep up with! And her youngest, the only little man of the family, has Down syndrome and is just a bit older (I think...) than Brianna so I enjoy seeing what he's up to!

The next week she's posting something she's thankful for each day and asked for others to join in. I think that sounds like a great idea...

I want to think outside the box of children, husband, health, shelter, and food. I'm thankful for each of those but there's so much more...

I'm thankful that God doesn't give me everything I ask for. And I'm thankful that often He gives me WAY MORE than I could have ever thought to request.

I could list out several examples, but a few include our home, our children, the finances involved with our adoption... Time and time again we've prayed for something and instead of what we *thought* was best for us, God provided us His *BEST* plan which was so much greater than we could envision.

No sleep for Momma

Admittedly, I went to bed a bit late last night. But in the course of the 5 hours I was laying in my bed I was up with three different children. And the third kept me up the remainder of the night. I could use a NAP!

Kristopher is off at school this morning and I am going to try to figure out a way to go to his Thanksgiving celebration at 11:30. I don't know why I didn't have the thought before last night that Mike might not be planning to go too. But he's not, so me going with 3 little ones in tow doesn't make much sense. Plus, it's in his classroom, I just wouldn't bring them all there.

Tonight is speech for all three kiddos and I really need to get some groceries this morning or I'm going to have to wait until tomorrow. Unfortunately, it's now nearing 9am and I haven't gotten myself or anyone else dressed for the day. Something about the house being cold makes me want to leave them in their snuggly sleepers to play! Brianna's are just a little big though and she keeps sliding on the tile when she waddles across the floor.

In the past 2 weeks my camera stopped working (Mike fixed it), my washing machine stopped working (Mike fixed that too), my computer stopped charging (um... Mike broke that one LOL And honestly he COULD fix it but that would void the warranty so he won't and a box is on its way so I can send it back to be repaired), and Mike's Nintendo DS stopped working (which is about 2 weeks inside the one year warranty time frame and nothing actually happened to it- the screen is messing up so it's being mailed in today for a repair or replacement). I hope we're done with electronics failing. I don't generally like the bills that go with them, though it seems we've been protected big time here recently by both warranties and Mike's ability to take things apart and fix them! Oh, and my camera was about 5 days over its one year warranty- the computer, camera, and Nintendo DS were all bought right around this time last year because we were preparing to go to Ukraine (Yes... Mike brought the DS! LOL). We have a 3 year accidental coverage on the laptop but just regular manufacturer warranties on everything else.

Ok, off to get kids going-- myself too-- and we'll see if I can make it to the grocery store and back and still get to Kristopher's class celebration!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ethan's Button

Ethan is a cute little guy with Down syndrome that I've had the pleasure of meeting and hugging on! It was recently discovered that he has a tethered cord and tomorrow he's going in to surgery for it. Renee (Kennedy's Mom) made him this graphic but his mom didn't have the code to post. So here is the code. Please pray for Ethan and his parents tomorrow, and click the button to visit their blog to let them know that you're supporting them in prayer!

The code will produce this on your website:

Dimes and Lessons

Don't forget to scroll down and enter the Book Give-Away!

Ok, so it's no secret that we've got some issues going on with Kristopher, and by the way I do appreciate all the comments with ideas on them. I have been thinking through some and may implement a few of them. For now, I'm doing something that will hopefully build up good character traits as well as help Kristopher to want to behave.

Here's how it works...

With Christmas coming we're going to let Kristopher buy gifts for his siblings. If you know Kristopher well, you'll know that he LOVES giving things to people. A birthday present for a friend, a toy for one of the little ones, something he made for a grandparent, doesn't matter. He LOVES to give gifts. This is one part of his heart that's in the right place ;) (ok, so there's more than just that, but we'll build on the good stuff we see!). Now, he can't buy anything without money. REAL money. But he doesn't have any, he's 4.

This is where his desire to buy his siblings gifts meets our need for a routine and regimen. Call it allowance. Call it bribing. But it is working :) During the day there are certain tasks that he knows he has to do. Get dressed. Put his PJs away in the hamper or on his bed depending on if they're to be worn again. Eat breakfast- whatever we serve without making a big fuss about it. At bedtime he needs to brush his teeth, put his clothes in the hamper, and go to bed without continuously coming out.

These are some things that he's generally good at doing but often we're hitting the attitude with them. Now if he does them with a good attitude, he will have a dime added to his 'pot'. He can also earn dimes by doing small tasks like putting a new bag in the trash can this morning or pulling the clean clothes out of the dryer. In the family room he put the little guys' toys and filled up one bin. There are two, so he had a chance to earn 2 dimes. He chose to do one and that's fine. The idea is that there are some times that he is told "you need to do this now" and some times where he's offered a choice "if you want to earn a dime I could use your help picking up the babies' toys". Regardless, he needs to have a good attitude about it and do it in a timely fashion if he is going to do it.

Of course I looked down the road 3 weeks when this isn't as "fun" for him anymore and I thought... He might just say "I don't want to buy ___ a present anyway" when his attitude comes back full swing. So... this is probably not a great way to teach giving... but this is what we did this time anyway... We told Kristopher that for each person he earns the money to buy a gift for he will also be given a gift from them. (And we intend to shape him until he does indeed get something for each of them, even if it's a $1 toy each because we don't want him picking who to buy for).

Oh, and I know he doesn't completely understand money and worth and all that good stuff yet, but we explained it all as if he does. We told him that 25 dimes is $2.5o and that would buy him a "big" gift for a sibling. We are going to implement the 1:1 gift rule that my parents used for the kids when I was growing up. For gifts to family members at Christmas, we pay for half. So $2.50 will give Kristopher $5 in buying power. That's what we're aiming for with him as it would mean he has to earn 75 dimes between now and shopping day. With MANY chances per day, that shouldn't be too bad. I'll be getting him a gift card with $5 on it when he's earned enough to go shopping. He LOVES carrying around a gift card and handing it to the cashier to pay for his own purchase. Makes it so much more 'real' than shopping and just adding it to Mom's stack of groceries or whatever.

I've seen a change in him today as I've offered redirection a few times when he's acted out so far. I've offered several projects throughout the day and he's done a few of them. Mostly when he was acting up. Positive channels for an energetic boy :) I also have seen less of the attitude today, though it's still reared its ugly head several times. He still receives discipline for doing things he shouldn't, like pulling toys out of Emma's hands or peeling the decals off his bed (AGAIN...). This is not taking away the fact that he's got to learn not to do the bad behaviors. This is giving him a reason to focus on the good ones and to do so respectfully!

And as I type this Emma is taking everything out of the bin he filled and throwing it all out to the side and behind her. She'll keep Kristopher in business for sure!!!

Our day

Would you know that I took the two girls to the ENT this morning and we came home with a report saying “NO CHANGES FOR 6 MONTHS”!?  YAY!  Of course it couldn’t be a complete non-event and Emma’s tubes have both come out, but the good part is that they’re not ‘lodged’ and the ear isn’t building up fluid, so no reason to replace them right now.  In fact, since her ears were cleaned out good for the first time in her life at the time the tubes were first placed, it’s possible she’ll never need tubes again. YIPPEE!  I now have an appointment in 6 months for the 3 little ones to see the ENT all together.  That should be fun.

On my way to drive the 30 minutes to the doctor’s office I realized I was being followed (closely) by a police officer.  It doesn’t generally bother me since I don’t speed anyway but this guy sat right behind me for EVER.  He actually turned just 2 blocks away from my destination.  Then after the appointment I pulled out of the office and onto the small side street and lo and behold there’s an officer standing on the side of the road with his radar gun.  I smiled and waved :)  He actually waved back! LOL  Usually they give me a dirty look when I wave :P  I do wonder, though, how he intended to pull people over.  I didn’t even see his car.

Of course that reminded me of one of our lovely trips in Ukraine when we were driving along (I was asleep in the back seat) and all the sudden we stopped on a highway.  I sat up and looked out the window to see a Ukrainian police officer standing by the window writing a ticket!  We were going 100 in a 50 (KM/hr) and got a ticket.  The police simply waive at you and you pull over there!  There’s no car pulling out, lights and sirens.  Just a guy with a stick light!

Anyway, after I left the ENT I got back out on the road and would you know that ANOTHER officer starts in on my tail?  You’d have thought I had done something or maybe they were searching for a gold E-530 and kept sending in my plates to find I wasn’t a match?  I don’t know, but he followed me all the way back to my town until I turned off the highway to go to the church.

Anyone know of a fugitive in a Gold Ford?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Book Review: Up Close: A Mother’s View


My first blog book review!  After the Buddy Cruise I posted that I’d bought two books written by men with Ds whom I’d met on the cruise.  Shortly after that post I was contacted by Bunker Hill Publishing requesting a review of this newly released book Up Close: A  Mother’s View.  Of course I jumped at the chance because two of my loves put together is a great thing!  Reading and Down syndrome!  The other two book reviews will be coming soon :)

When Up Close: A Mother’s View arrived in the mail my first thought was “wow, this is a NICE QUALITY!”  This hard back book with a dust cover immediately draws your eye.  Then flipping through it I was captured by several of the photographs.  This book is a photographic journal with short tidbits of text on most opposing pages.  Full page photos show great detail and more than that, the obvious relationship and love between the subject- Ophir- and the photographer- her mother.

This book shows the raw emotions, not the buttered up thoughts, of a mother receiving a diagnosis of Down syndrome shortly after the birth of her first child and the next 12 years after that as together they suffered loss through miscarriage, the birth of another daughter, and life with Ophir and Noa.

As I read through the short entries about Ophir and her mother I thought on my own journey as well.  Some of it I could relate so well to.  Some is further down the road for me and as with all children as they’re so much different from one another, some things she experienced I couldn’t quite relate to, but I could understand.  After all, every journey is different and in the introduction the author is quick to point out that this is her journey, one that is different from everyone else’s just as each child is different from another.

This is a book of a beautiful photographic journey through the early years of the life of a family with a child with Ds!  It would make a great conversation starter for raising awareness with family members, grandparents, and friends since it so simply presents life and both the difficult and simply joyful parts of parenting a child with Down syndrome.   It is a great first- insight to life with a child with Ds and I believe would be a good addition to welcome baby packages for families receiving a diagnosis of Down syndrome.

I highly recommend Up Close: A Mother’s View to all parents, caregivers, family members, and community members that want to broaden their perspective and have an inside glimpse of a mother’s journey through childhood with her daughter.

Though the photography is beautiful and the subjects innocent and pure, this book does have several photos which are appropriately shot but depict nudity.  They are absolutely not inappropriate to the book or in the way they’re taken, but I think it’s important to mention that as I would not be comfortable having this book out when we have young boys or teenage guests that might decide to leaf through it.  Of course those of you that read my blog by now have figured out that I’m very much on the conservative side of that.  My husband, my children (yes, even Kristopher at his age would be fine seeing everything in the book), our parents- all of them will probably get to look through this book and read it.  My parents’ foster boys will not :)

I know that this Christmas season this book will be a great addition to many family gift lists!

Thank you, Bunker Hill Publishing, for allowing me the opportunity to get a ‘first look’ at this great book!