Saturday, June 30, 2012

Just a Cruisin'

Maria's View-

So today, we got up bright and early and the hubs cooked us some French toast!  YUMMO.   I took Big G to her ballet practice for the last time until fall and then we went to a yard sale!   There are a few families who are going through an adoption and this yard sale was to help one of them out.  You can follow their blog here.  I love going to yard sales and on my way there, I picked up my friend Lura, who is also adopting, and we spent the morning together.  It was really nice and I enjoyed the conversation and company!  After a meal at Chilis, we made our way home and my friend, Ashley, came over to meet Griffin for the first time.  It was a nice visit and Griffin really enjoyed it! 

Griffin is so active now.  He loves to cruise around and explore.  I can put him in the living room so that I can run to the kitchen to fix lunch and before I know it, he's doing his very best to find me.  Love him!!!  He is quick to come to me now when I ask him to and if I walk to him and put my hands out, he will immediately plunge into my arms.  He is just a sweetheart.

On a random note, I logged in all of my Huggies codes over the past 1 1/2 years and earned a free lunch box for Big G. LOL!  Only took 1 1/2 years.  Sad. 

On an aggravating note, my computer crashed because one of the little ones yanked my power cord out of the laptop and Chris said it immediatly shut down and was dead.  It gives the 7 beeps of doom when we try to turn it on along with the black screen of death.  The computer guy said that it would cost more to fix than a brand new computer so Chris went to the BX and found one for $350.  Thank goodness.  Since when did laptops get so inexpensive?  I was expecting to pay at least $500+. 

On a thankful note, I'm blessed beyond measure and I thank God every day for my family and my friends.  This adoption road has been hard but we are so glad that it's over and we can move on with our lives.  With that being said, it's kind of lonely at times on this side of the I'm very thankful for my friends, for anticipating my needs, and for meeting me there.  Don't know what I would do without y'all! 

But anyway, sorry my blog is late tonight... we had to set the new laptop up.  As I type this, both of the littles are in bed and Griffin is babbling over the baby monitor more than I have ever heard him.  It's one of the most sweetest sounds. 


Friday, June 29, 2012

Giggly Bits

Maria's View-

Today has been a joyful day for Griffin.  Chris has a nickname for him when he is this happy..."Giggly Bits"...and I understand why, now.  This is the first time I have ever experienced him in this great of a mood!  He laughs for absolutely no reason and is just extraordinarily happy.  It is so cute!!!  Literally, all you have to do is look at him and he will laugh.  I left the room and heard him giggling only to find him doing absolutely nothing but laughing.  LOL.  love it.

Being this joyful has some drawbacks for him.  He has a hard time expressing his emotions correctly.  Even though he is extremely happy, I have noticed several times today that he will bang his head while laughing.  Pretty hard.  It doesn't stop him from laughing because I really think that he feels that this is appropriate for happiness!  When he is nervous, tired, or upset, he doesn't bang his head at all, he covers his eyes and shuts down...his most extreme behavior when he is upset is poking his forehead with his fingernails with locked fingers. 

So all I can do is stop him when he bangs his head, tell him 'nyet/no', and let him keep on laughing!

His fluid intake has improved, praise God!  His lab work has slowly started trickling far, so good!

I'm giving Chris the day off today since he let me have some fun yesterday.  I think he is going to take Big G to the pool this evening after tennis.  Should be a great time!!  I would like for us to do this for each other every week.  Being that we are hunkering down a bit, it's good to have some time out of the house!  My next outting, The Lucky One, even if I have to go by myself.

 Roast, potatoes, and carrots in the crock pot for dinner tonight!  Easyyyyy!

Love and Hugs!

Chris's View-

Had a papa/daughter date today with Big G!

She got so used to us hanging out during the 10 day wait, and unfortunately, since I got back with Griffin, we have been unable to go hang out.  I needed it too... I think I needed it more than she did though.

After breakfast, I got around and headed to base with the goal of getting all the command sponsorship paperwork taken care of so we could get the package turned in.  See, for Griffin to stay here in Germany and to get full benefits as a military dependent, he has to be command sponsored.  More so, the command sponsorship affords Griffin protection under the Status of Forces Agreement... SOFA.  The SOFA protects us during many different situations and some legal issues in Germany.

So, I got to the base and went in to my work to print out the filled out command sponsorship paperwork.  I pre-filled it all out earlier this week, I just didn't print it out.  Anyway, after I got it printed out, I needed to get what is called a 1466, or a medical clearance paper.  I went to the EFMP (Exceptional Family Member Program) office to pick it up.  They couldn't do this paper until Griffin had his physical exam.  He had this last Friday, so I was sure this would be ready.  I get to their office and the SSgt tells me that she cannot give me the 1466 because I haven't gotten the doctors to fill out this massive stack of papers.  UGH!  Why wouldn't they give me this pack of papers when we had the physical?!?!?  This has become a huge problem in the military...

Okay... a little venting session, I apologize in advance... if you don't want to read this part, please skip down... I have noticed a very poor trend across the Air Force.  It seems like you cannot get anything done easily or quickly due to the "goose-chase" factor.  This package of papers should have been given to us at the appointment.  Not 7 days later.  Same thing, I filled out the package to get the DoD Adoption Reimbursement program.  I called my Personnel Office Customer Service desk, who promptly told me that I had to work that issue through Finance.  I sent an email to Finance... since we cannot call them or walk in to see them anymore... and they told me, yep, you guessed it, it was a Personnel Office function.  See, no one accepts responsibility or really knows their job anymore.  If I was to tell a pilot coming down final, "Sorry sir, I can't help you during your emergency, you'll have to talk to the Fire Department about that."  I can promise you I'd be fired in 0.0 seconds!  It has gotten so bad!  Enough complaining though.

So, I filled out & dropped the forms off at the pediatrician's office & left to go to the Personnel Office.  There were 5000 people in there, literally, not a seat to be sat in, so I decided that'd have to wait.  On my way off base, I realized I lost my military ID!  NOOOOOO!  This day just got real bad!  After getting back on base, I back track.  My ID was at the EFMP office... the one who gave me the huge pack of papers.  When she gave me my ID back she also gave me 2 more packs of forms!  WHAT!!!!!!!  You may want to go read (or re-read) the paragraph directly above this one!  I finally got home to get some paperwork that was needing to be turned in for the developmental pediatrician and went back to base.

After dropping that off, I picked up Big G from tennis lessons... she won both games at tennis camp today!  Yea!!!!  Afterward, we went to the base pool and had a good time swimming.  We stopped by the BX & Commissary, then hit McDonald's for an ice cream cone.  It was such a great time being able to hang out with my baby girl!  I need to make more time for things like this.  She's growing up way too fast, and I know soon she will not want a date with papa.  :(  Makes me sad to think about it.

See ya'll later!

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Maria's View-

So breakfast for dude went well because I started with the banana and covered each bite of banana with oatmeal. He did very well. So I think I'm on to something. He wants to be able to chew his food or else he feels that there is nothing there... or that he's back to his orphanage foods of just soup and that scares him. So everything we give him, we will make it chunky somehow. Chris noticed that when he gave him a cup of yogurt yesterday, he wasn't very happy, so we will add Cheerios or bread to it to thicken it up and see if that helps!

I noticed today that the second I laid the banana peel down (I had been scooping the banana directly from the peel); he started crying... and then when I tipped the bowl of oatmeal, that instantly set him off. Breakfast is a very sensitive time for him and the act of simply tipping the bowl alerts him into knowing that it's coming to an end. A very smart little boy who pays incredible attention to detail!! Wow.

So I decided to stay home with my girlies while Chris took Griffin to the ophthalmologist. My girls need a little one on one time with me, especially Little G. So I've been giving her extra loving and rocking in the recliner. She pointed to a picture in a book of a ball and said "ba"! PROGRESS! I love my children!

It seems that I have 2 languages going on in my house right now and I can't keep each language straight with the correct kid! I only speak to Griffin in the Russian words that I know he needs to hear but I try not to very often. This morning, he was sitting on the floor and I asked him to come to me in Russian and in English and he crawled right over to me! PROGRESS! Very proud of him.

Today, Chris is going to keep the littles for me so that I can take Big G to tennis and then we are going to hang out with our Copous and Holmes friends...we plan to relax in the back yard and let the kids play on the slippin' slide and then have sloppy joes for dinner. So excited to have some girl time! YEAH! Just so you know, I have one of Chris' favorite foods (white Lima beans) simmering in the crock pot right now so that dinner is covered, along with a hot pan of cornbread that I will make right before I leave. :-)

Love and Hugs!

Chris's View-

I'm baaaaaaack! Miss me?!?!?

This morning was Griffin's Ophthalmology appointment. My goodness, the doctor is A-MAZ-ING! She's Dr. Ing! LOL! She was so good with him! She's not a pediatric ophthalmologist though, so this will be the last time we probably see her.

We got there, and of course I had to explain the whole adoption thing... this is very common at our hospital & clinic. For instance, the lab tech questioned some of the labs that were put in for Griffin, due to them being so rare. Once I explained that we adopted him from an Eastern European country that is not in the Euro Zone, he totally understood why they were checking him for obscure parasites and blood borne pathogens.

Anyway, the ophthalmologist asked what our primary concerns were:

1 - His eyes get really yellow mucousy "gunk" and sometime will get red patchy areas around his eyes. Clogged tear ducts are common in children with Down syndrome, so we think this is what this is, but we wanted to rule out any chronic pink eye or infection.

2 - He has one eye that crosses every so often. It's not crossed permanently, just occasionally, it will cross, so we wanted to see if this was something that is correctable or possibly an indicator that it could get worse, and if it is, we'd like to put him on a course of treatment to prevent it from getting worse if that is possible.

She totally understood and examined Griffin's eyes for a bit. He was really good with her and followed her light well. She put things in different areas and said he has no difficulties seeing objects, and in fact, his peripheral vision is really good. She then wanted to dilate his eyes. Apparently the eye drops used to dilate the eyes can be pretty rough, so she used baby eye dilation drops, which take an hour to work, but are really mild on the system.

During our wait, we walked around to the shopette in the hospital. I got Griffin a bag of Cheez-its and a bottle of Tropicana apple juice, since he had already killed the first sippy cup of juice. We sat down in the food court dining room and I fed him his snack. He ate the entire bag, even the crumbs, and drank an entire sippy cup of juice. Little boy was hungry & thirsty! They said the side effect of the drops was drowsiness, not the munchies!

After the hour was up, we walked back to the ophthalmology clinic. She did an in-depth examination of his eyes, checking his prescription and for cataracts. She also tried to get a better look at his tear ducts. After she was complete, she gave me the news... he's right on track with a normal 3 year old! His eye's prescription is good, but the pediatric ophthalmologist may prescribe him glasses to try to correct the crossing issue. She said that since we do not know for sure how long the crossing has been going on... we think it was from birth... that she is surprised that it is not more severe. If the glasses do not work, they may try to patch his stronger eye to force him to strengthen the muscles that hold the eye centered. As for the tear ducts though, she's going to leave that one to the pediatric ophthalmologist. She said that since we have not had his heart checked yet, we need to wait until after that appointment, since he will need to be placed under anesthesia so he doesn't move and cause damage to the eye. They will probe the tear duct, down into the nasal passage. She said sometimes there is a membrane in there that needs to be perforated, but that sometimes it doesn't. This could clear up his issue all together. She said it could also be that some bone or cartilage is reducing the flow of the tear ducts, thus causing the mucus back-up. She said they may have to scrape this out to allow for better flow. She said if that is the case, they will stint the tear ducts for 6 months to allow them to grow in a more open way.

Whatever it is, she said it's nothing serious and that there is nothing contagious or infectious about the mucus, but to watch others who may have eye issues around him. The infection could be more persistent with him if it gets behind the mucus that flows out into his eye, and it will be harder to combat.

While we were at the hospital I got a call from our insurance company... yes, the military has an HMO called TRICARE... telling us that we would have to pay deductibles and co-pays for Griffin's cardiology appointment off base. Uh... don't think so, as since he is adopted, he's considered a new birth to us, therefore he's automatically covered for 60 days under the full coverage, no deductible, and no co-pay insurance plan while we get him what is referred to as Command Sponsored. They acted like they had no idea what I was talking about. I told them the office at the Ramstein Clinic gave me a paper that said as much when we first started our adoption document gathering. They had me call some other lady in the enrollment department, who said she'd have to research it. About 25 minutes later, I get a call saying that he is fully enrolled in TRICARE Prime now. That's what I thought! LOL! I like winning! :)

See ya'll later!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Is There a Full Moon or Something?!?

WHEW!  What a day!  Was today a crazy kid day for anyone else?  I just spoke with Little G's speech therapist and she said that most of her parents were complaining that their children were a bit out of control today.  Interesting. 

Griffin did pretty well today despite his food issues at breakfast this morning.  I gave him oatmeal and he got extremely upset as he was eating it.  We powered through it, though, until he needed more than just a turn of the high chair... I took him out and to the recliner and just rocked him for about 10 mins.  Then I put him back in his highchair and added a banana to his meal.  I got a spoonful of banana and covered it with the oatmeal and he was fine.  So maybe it's a texture thing?  Or perhaps he doesn't feel like he's getting anything solid with the oatmeal so the banana gives him something to chew.  I'll try him on the banana and oatmeal tomorrow right off the bat to see if the banana keeps the frustration away. 

I'm a bit worried about his fluid intake today.  He has only drank one complete sippy cup of diluted juice.  We had to go down to the German grocery store and buy their apple juice.  Maybe he just doesn't like it.  So tomorrow, we are definitely going to buy the American kind in hopes that he will drink more.  He must drink or else we have a problem.  I gave him liquidy foods in hopes that it would help.  We had to collect stool samples on him today and I had to keep his urine seperate in the diaper by a urine collection bag and so I know his output of urine is good.  So that means he's getting some fluids.

Griffin did great for lunch, dinner, and snacks in between.  Chris got home early from work and I was able to take Gracie to tennis, just the 2 of us and then I treated her to ice-cream afterwards.  It was a nice little outing.

Little G had a melt down tonight just before dinner to the point of screaming and unable to catch her breath... and then she got upset with her meal at dinner. LOL.  Griffin was perfect.  haha.  What is up with these kids?!?  Little G doesn't usually have melt downs anymore so I hope she's feeling okay.

But anyway, sorry that there's not anything exciting to report.  Probably TMI on the stool specimen stuff.  LOL.  sorry.

Until tomorrow!!!  Griffin goes for his opthamology appt in the AM!  Chris and I are going to flip a coin on who is going to take him.  Concerns: crossing eye, mucous 24/7, and possible stent placement for his ducts.

Something random-  I have a very strong urge to get the xbox out and play Pac-Man quest games like I did before having children. strange.  lol


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Day of Firsts!

Maria's view-

So I've stepped it up a tiny notch with some of Griffin's daily routine.  I have experienced 3 different things that I have never seen him do before!  I'm so excited!  This little boy is ready to explode with a new life!

1.  This morning, I was curious if he would actually come to me if I held my hands out, when I went to his crib at 0645.  He was sitting up in the bed.  I held my hands out to him like I normally do, but I didn't swoop in to pick him up.  He grabbed my hands and put my hands on his sides once he realized that I wasn't going to pick him up.   He placed my hands exactly where they needed to be in order to pick him up!

2.  At breakfast and every meal from here on out, I have started making him lean in to his spoon to eat.  He is so used to his food being shoveled down his throat, sadly.  So I decided to see if he would actually lean in for the bite.  It took a few tries, but he caught on quickly and now he will go to the spoon.  I want to do this because I hope I will be able to tell if he likes or dislikes a certain food by his lack of desire to lean in.  He will eat anything and everything you put in front of him, but if he is slow to lean in, maybe I can figure out his favorites!

3.  I started teaching him to sign 'more' today.  I have a love/hate relationship with sign language because of Little G's speech delay.  I think she depends far to much on her signs and doesn't feel the need to speak, now that she can hear.  BUT I have got to have some kind of way to communicate with Griffin at meal times.  I'm hoping that the sign for 'more' will replace his need to cry out for food.   So I would sign 'more', then I would take his hands and help him sign it, and then I would pick up his spoonful of food and say 'more' and put it in his mouth.  We did this for snack this morning and snack this evening.  I started noticing that when I would hold his hands to help him sign it, he moved his hands into the motion all on his own!  Right down to just having his fingertips touching each other!  He did this 5 times in a row and then our snack was over.  I'm certain that he is catching on, but he had to have my hands on his to prompt the sign.  Like a reminder.  I also found that this was a great distraction for him in between bites.

I had a much easier time getting us loaded up for tennis lessons today.  I prepared as much as I could ahead of time and it helped so much.  duh. :-)

Also, while at tennis, Chris got off work early and picked dude up for another 1/3 of his lab work.  Yes, 1/3... they added more labs in addition to all of the others, so we have to go back.  The tech said that he is so dehydrated that 2 veins collapsed.  He has quadrupled his fluid intake just within the past few days even though he doesn't like to drink and he never likes to drink with meals.  He is showing no physical signs of severe dehydration or nothing that concerned the doctor.  I imagine he's been this way his entire life, worse, actually, because he is drinking more and more every day.

During his nap time today and many other times before this, Griffin will somehow get his arm out of his shirt and then put his arm through the neck of his shirt about 3 times with the other arm.  I'm not exactly sure how he does this, but he does it well! LOL.  Too cute.

I got all of the paperwork to fill out from the behavioral specialist.  It is A LOT and all very complicated because I haven't a clue who my son is!  I'm just now figuring him out, slowly, but we are getting there!  So I think this questionnaire isn't going to be helpful to anyone.

But anyway, steak, potatoes, and broccoli were on the menu tonight and all 3 Gs tore up some broccoli!  WOO-HOO!  After dinner, Griffin decided he wanted to dance with me as I hummed out one of his orphanage songs that the music teacher sang so much while we were there.  It's in my brain forever!  I think he recognized it because he instantly stood up and started dancing side to side with me.

Until tomorrow!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Snuggle Time

Last night at around 0300, Griffin woke up, crying out, not crying tears, but just crying out to us.  I stumbled into his room and picked him up, changed his diaper, and then just decided to put him in bed with us.  I need to take advantage of bonding time every chance that I can get!  I was on my side and I pulled him really close to me so that he was facing me by laying on his side.  He got so close to me that his nose kept getting smooshed against my chest so I kept having to push him back a bit.  Eventually, he gave himself just enough room to get his fingers into his mouth and went to sleep and didn't budge at all!  At 0545, he woke up just as happy as he could be, all smiles.  I knew that I was on borrowed time with his hunger so I decided to get on up.  It was blazing bright at that time so honestly, I had no clue that it wasn't even 0600 yet!  That helped. lol

We headed downstairs and I scrambled him an egg and gave him some yogurt and juice.  He did great!  Afterwards, we had some rocking chair time and I can tell that he really enjoys that.  He loves to be in motion no matter what it is.   Before long, the girls were ready for their breakfast... What in the world is it with my early risers?  Just sleep late, already! 

My week is going to be a bit tricky.   Big G started tennis camp this week and it's from 1330-1430, right when the little ones should be taking their nap.  So I tried to stuff an early nap in at 0900 and that just really didn't work.  Around 1100 I knew that I needed to do lunches and start getting the kids ready to leave by 1245.  It took every second of that time to get 3 kids loaded up!  This is a run down of my morning:

1000-girls bathed
1040-preparing lunch
1100-girls ate lunch, Griffin still napping (or so I thought)
1130-Got Griffin out of the crib and found a very nasty poop surprise.  Everything needs to be cleaned, including a bath for Griffin.
1145-Bath water is not heated (electric German water heater has to be turned on), have to fill pots of water from the kitchen to get enough warm water in the bathtub for him.
Scrub, scrub, scrub.
Clean, clean, clean.
1200-fed Griffin
1220-clothed both little ones and fixed all heads of hair
1230-where is every one's jackets?!?  Nowhere to be found, had to search for others upstairs.  Still don't know where they are.
1240-snacks, diaper bag packed
1245-2 trips to get the kids loaded in the van and we were on our way.

I was just about in tears.  Just overwhelmed.  Exhausted from not really sleeping.  Wondering how/if I will ever get in a routine.  The kids were great!  I just have to figure it all out. 

Big G loved tennis and I'm so glad she is getting this opportunity!  The little ones had a great time just being outside and able to roam around a bit.  Both of them were so well behaved!  I learned that I have to really watch Griffin because he tried a few times to eat rocks.  I had to dig them out of his mouth and before I could get one out, he would pop another one in.  What is with this kid storing things?  lol   It was almost like the rocks were magically appearing.

Little G totally missed her nap so she is grumpy now and is refusing to sleep, but Griff seems to be resting well, after his fussy snack.  I can't blame them since his schedule is kind of messed up today.  Nothing bad, just fussy, normal toddler stuff, honestly! 

So what I have learned from today is this:
All kids must be washed before bedtime.
All clothing must be laid out before bedtime.

On a surprising note, I called and talked to the Pediatric Clinic about Griffin's toes turning blue and found out that they have already put in a cardiology referral without telling us... We were told that he will probably get referred out to a German cardiologist and that we need to wait a few more days for the referral to make its way to cardiology.

But anyway, the hubs is home and all is well with the world.  I love him.

Burgers on the grill tonight and maybe an episode of Army Wives if I'm lucky! :-)

Love and Hugs!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Oh Yeah, I Definitely Love Him.

As if there were any doubts!  LOL.  My goodness, Griffin is a sweetheart.  Extra chromosomes are awesome! :-)

We awoke to cannons firing off in our village this morning...and since our windows are cracked due to not having A/C in this country, Griffin heard them, loud and clear.  I got up and took him directly down stairs for a diaper change and breakfast.  I was a bit concerned since I didn't have his breakfast prepared ahead of time like I normally try to do.  I gave him his diluted juice and some fruit puffs directly onto his high chair tray and decided to cook some eggs for him.  Again, they just cool quickly, and I'm still experimenting.  Since he has oatmeal issues, I really just feel that it's a breakfast thing in general. :-)  I decided that I would let him feed himself the eggs and see if we could get a better response.  And we did!   Bite after bite, he would do very well, and I would help him with his juice to wash the eggs down since he is still stuffing his cheeks.  Toward the end, he started to get fussy but I was prepared to intervene with some yogurt.  So I started giving him bites of that between continuing to allow him to feed himself the eggs.  Worked like a charm.  He's a very smart boy because he can sense when the food time is coming to an end.  I was very careful to not scrape the bottom of the yogurt bowl with the spoon but he could tell anyway.  Maybe it's because I tipped the bowl up to get it from the edges but anyway, he knew.  He started fussing, I turned his chair, and within seconds he was fine.  I cleaned him up and let him explore.

He cruised over to the window where he likes to sit every morning.  He took the moby wrap with him and did a bit of cleaning and then laid down on the floor in the sunlight.  I eventually moved him because I didn't want him to get too toasty.  I could hear that Little G was waking up so I got her in her high chair, scrambled her an egg, and then I could hear the tv turning on and off.  Dude was messing with the plug!  So I get him away from the electronics (which I will  have to figure something out about blocking him from that area), and redirected him to the stacking rings.  Before we knew it, a random parade came marching by, along with more cannons firing their crazy loudness into the quiet Sunday morning, so we watched that go by.  Then we all decided to play.  Dude was just kind of lounging around for the most part, and this morning I actually noticed that his big toe nails were blue.  So I'm a bit concerned about the lack of oxygen that he may be getting while he is sleeping...As far as I know, he does not have heart issues, but I know that sleep apnea is an issue with Ds.  I decided to give him his sippy cup of juice as he lounged on the floor.  I realize that he doesn't really drink with his meals, which makes sense because at the orphanage, they had juice time as a snack.  So as he laid on the floor, I put my hand on his forehead so that he could feel my touch, helped him hold his sippy cup even though he can do it all by himself, and made eye contact with him as he drank down the entire cup of juice without stopping.  I'm hoping that this will help him bond even more with us.  Eventually, I would love for him to allow me to hold him the entire time he drinks his juice.  He does pretty well when I hold him for his juice, but he never finished the entire cup, so we will work our way up to this. 

After his juice was done, he got a burst of energy.  He was very happy and so I stood him up against the couch and asked him to walk to me, and he did!  He did that over and over again and I was so proud of him!  And he was pretty proud of himself, too.  Little G was even encouraging him!  She walked up to him once and started lightly rubbing his head, saying, "Bayyyy-be!"  After that, I took him to the recliner and he positioned himself the way he wanted to lay... he likes to lay with his back in my lap, and his head on top of my knees.  I started rocking him and before long, he moved his own body to keep the chair going.  He would use his feet to push the back of the rocking chair to keep it going.  Very smart little guy!  He stayed like that for probably 30 mins as he looked at a book.

I decided to give them a snack and have them in bed by 11 for a nap.  I decided on prunes.  Fun, huh?  Well, come to find out, both of the little ones love them!  So after they gobbled those down, to sleep they went.

Well, that's a snippet of our day... another snack and juice time has come and gone, along with lunch and dinner and we had no food issues at all!  He drank another entire sippy cup, while laying in my arms this time.  He's changing more and more, literally from one hour to the next.  Amazing what a little boy can do if only given a chance!!!

More tomorrow!!!  <3

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Too Little, Too Much

Maria's View-

Where is the balance?  When you are a mother/wife/daughter/sister/friend, how do you find a way to make it all just balance out?  Where's the line that makes my time equal?  Hang in there with me, y'all.  Maybe I will figure it out one day!

On the food front:  I keep bringing up these food issues so that perhaps I can help another adopting family figure out their little one as well.  Oatmeal is a trigger for him... or it could just be breakfast in general.  He could be very hungry and out of control when he wakes up.  With that being said, his 'out of control' is just a lot of moaning and sometimes tears with a bit of wailing.  What we are starting to do is feed him until he starts getting 'out of control' and then if he starts getting upset, we will turn his high chair away from us and he will calm himself within minutes as we calmly talk to him with reassuring words, "it's okay, Griffin, stop crying, you can have more, etc." The second he stops crying, we will turn his high chair back to us and he will continue eating just fine.  This seems to be working.  Maybe he is just overstimulated with the food and honestly just needs a break?   Snack time went great, we gave him fruit puffs, no issues.  Lunch time went great after he took a 2 hour nap.  I chopped up 1/2 hot dog and about 3 TBSP of green peas.  He ate every bite and let out a moan when he saw that there was only one bite left on the plate.  I quickly said, "Nyet, no, no, no", and he stopped immediately.  I was able to remove him from the high chair with no tears.

We went to the park across the street today and the kids had a great time kicking the ball around, swinging, see-sawing, and loving on Mommy and Papa.  It's such a beautiful day outside and the weather is absolutely perfect.

Big G is at a sleepover tonight and I'm sure she is having a blast!  Chris and I will settle for a couch date and the littles will hopefully go to bed on time!

Chicken fried rice is on the menu tonight!  Wish us luck! :-)

Chris's View-

Groceries... ugh!

I had to go grocery shopping today.  Man, I had almost forgot how chaotic the base Commissary is.  I am thankful for the time I was away from it!  LOL!

I was shocked at the increase in groceries for such a little mouth!  LOL!  Our little 20 pound dude caused us to increase our grocery cart load by a considerable amount.  I get it, he loves his veggies... now we have to get the other two G's to eat veggies as much as he does and we will be good!  Even the protein load was larger.  I know he'll eat the protein.  Used to, 3 steaks would feed our family, with a little scrap for me to take to work the next day.  We could still get by with 3 steaks, but there goes my next day lunch!  LOL!

Not only did grocery shopping change, but we have been seeing even other, smaller things have changed.  Even getting gas is a totally different task now.  For those of ya'll not here at the military base in Europe where we are, I'll put it into perspective for you.  When we go to get gas, we pull up & pump the gas, then we have to go in to pay for it.  At one location we can pay outside, but it is a person, it's never a pay-at-the-pump situation for us here.  We also have very specific military regulations that prevent us from ever leaving our children in the vehicle to go pay for the gas... not that we would anyway, except the outside gas attendant.  To me, it's almost a safety issue to take my children out at this busy gas station, where people drive in & drive out of a gas lane right beside the gas attendant's cashier box.  Nevertheless, getting gas is a total chore now.

See ya'll later!

Friday, June 22, 2012

First Doctor's Appt

Maria's View-

Today, we had to be up at the crack of dawn to get Griffin to the doctor's office.  Thank you to Val and Hadley for volunteering your morning to us which caused you to be on the road at 6:30AM! 

We had to fill out a questionnaire for a typical 3 year old child.  Yeah, that didn't go well.  I had to answer 'no' to every single question on the sheet of probably 50+ questions.  Can't they make a questionnaire for children with Down syndrome?!?  No, he can't line up 4 blocks, but he can stack rings like no body's business!!! 

To start off, Griffin is 20.4 lbs and 31.3 inches tall.  That is in the 0th percentile in a typical child's growth chart.  He is just barely in the 5th percentile on the Ds chart.  In his country, if the scales were correct, he was 22 lbs, so he has lost 2 lbs.  However, we have been having to do glycerin enemas on him because he is so impacted.  So it's quite possible that he has lost 2 lbs of... well... poop.  So, with all of this being said, we are going to step up his meals a notch and feed him an additional piece of fruit with his meal.  Did you know that any fruit that starts with P are good for fiber?  Pears, peaches, prunes?  I knew about prunes, but I didn't associate the whole 'P' thing with fiber.  Interesting!  The doctor also gave him Miralax to start using regularly to kick his system into gear.  She said that his colon has stretched out and it can take about 1 1/2 years for it to go back to normal, but only if he's regular.

He had as many vials of blood drawn that they would allow for his small size.  We will have to go back on Monday to finish off the blood work.  He also got 3 shots for his immunizations and handled all of these things very well.  I guess he's so use to being poked and prodded on that he just takes it.  The lab tech said his blood was much too thick which indicates dehydration or really high iron.  He doesn't drink much so I'm pretty sure that's the problem.  I will do my best to fix that.

We have a referral in for the behavioral specialist.  This doctor is more like a referral specialist and is located in this clinic, so hopefully we can schedule an appt with him asap... which could mean a month from now for all we know.  This doctor will evaluate him and give out referrals for everything that will help him learn to live such as speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy... we will discuss whether we feel that he should start his special needs preschool program this fall or wait... we will discuss any issues from his food frustration to 'crib head'.  His poor head is so misshaped from laying in a crib far too long, so I hope that we can help with that.   Let the appointments begin!

He has a referral in for opthamology.  He continues to have issues with his eyes that comes across as pink eye but since it's a regular occurance, all of his symptoms point to clogged tear ducts. So the opthamologist will be able to take care of that very easily. He also has one eye that crosses so I wonder if he will need some sort of prism type glasses or an eye patch to strengthen that eye. He can pinch tiny pieces of food between this thumb and index finger very easily so I think his depth perception is great. 
His only major concern is his constipation so we are very thankful for that.  We will just have to wait and see what the lab work reveals.  I'm praying that all of his little organs are working properly and that he's a healthy little boy!  She gave him aquaphor for his thumbs because when we left him for the 10 day wait, he chewed his thumbs raw.  Now they won't heal but I guess that's just how he coped with us disappearing on him for 10 days.

But anyway, that's all we have on our little dude right now! He was a champ today. Very, very proud of our little son. :-)

Please continue to pray that his lab work reveals one very healthy little boy!

Oh, and by the way, Little G saw me carrying Griffin in the Moby wrap... and now she wants me to carry her that way too!  Oh my BACK!!! 

Chris's View-

So, I want to get something off my chest... well, many of you already know this.  I wasn't on board with a special needs adoption to begin with.

As I look back over the past few months... well, almost a year now... I am amazed at how God has changed my heart.  I want to tell you all, it is not that I was incapable of loving a child with special needs; it is quite the contrary.  I felt that I would love this child too much!  I love my kids, and I always said I'd be willing to lay down my life for them... even the child we would adopt.  When Maria mentioned special needs, I knew this child would have a tough road ahead of him.

See, I knew people would look at him differently, and kids might pick on him.  I am protective!  I know I am, and admitting it is the first step in resolving the problem!  LOL!  I even got a little defensive inside when the doctor said my son was the 0th percentile for his age for height & weight for non-Ds kids.  I won't tolerate anyone saying my kid is a zero!  It hurt inside when they said he was zero anything!  He's been a "zero" to everyone around him for the first 3 1/2 years of his life... NEVER AGAIN!  I have prayed since the beginning of this process that I would not interfere with God's work in this, but God would have to prepare me for what is to come and to be able to handle issues like these.  I went into this process knowing that God would stop the entire process if this wasn't His will.  I actually have noticed that He is preparing me for the "trouble makers" and "haters" that may come up in his life.

I have found myself looking at some pretty neat shirts and bumper stickers and things over the past few weeks.  In fact, the first shirt that I almost bought him was in his region at a store at the Karavan... no, sadly I didn't buy it, but it said "I'm not perfect, but I'm so close it's scary!"  The ones I have been seeing the past few days online are things like:

See, if I help Griffin embrace who he is, he will OWN the diagnosis, instead of the diagnosis OWNING him.  God has been showing me that He will help lead me in how to handle the issues he may face in the future.  I can't say that I am fully over this issue, but I am letting God continue to work on these feelings inside me.  I may never be 100%, and may always be an over-protective father, but at least I... no we... will be better able to handle these issues that I am for sure will come up late in life.

***NOTE: If you'd like to help spread acceptance of people with an extra chromosome, you can find these products & more by clicking the link HERE!***

See ya'll later!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Just a Quick One

Hey y'all!  Today has been a good day... not great...but good.  Little dude is struggling even more with food issues.  I feel so bad for him and I wish I could take away all of the emotional pain and fear that he has when he is trying to eat his meal.  I still don't have him figured out yet.  Some foods trigger louder crying than others.  I'm still not sure if that means he loves or dislikes it.  So confusing.  But we will get there!

Griffin went to the BX for the first time today!  He did so amazingly well.  He sat in his stroller like a champ and just took it all in.  So proud of him.

Did I mention how stinkin' cute he is?! ;-)  He had the pleasure of meeting more of our friends, who have loved and prayed him home for quite some time now.  He is such a blessed little guy to have so many people who love him!

But anyway, guess what?  I just developed a cold but since it came on so fast, I think it's allergies, but still!  I can't catch a break!!!

Tomorrow is Griff's first doctor's appt.  Please pray that he is well!  We have so many questions and I'm sure he's going to have to have a lot of blood work done. 

More tomorrow!!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Repeat of Chris' Day 58

Maria's View-
(Sorry, y'all, just realized that a chunk was missing and paragraphs got scrambled,  so it has been edited now! :-)
Wow, just by chance, Day 58 came up on my blog stats and I clicked on it.  It is exactly what I have experienced today with Griffin, right down to the times, except for the flavor of oatmeal!  Griffin was awake at 5:40 AM, we didn't go downstairs until around 6:30'ish.  I went down before him and prepared oatmeal and threw it into the fridge to start cooling it down.  I could tell that he was more awake than normal by his sounds so I suspect he was hungrier than usual.  I brought him down, changed his diaper, he appeared pretty happy, sat him in his highchair, brought the oatmeal into viewing distance and I immediately saw his little fists balling up.  Before I could get the first bite into his mouth, he let out a moan.  And he continued the moaning and fussiness for the entire meal.  At the end, he cried huge tears.  I cleaned him up, soothed him the best that I could, turned his highchair away from the table and kept his juice on the tray.  He continued to drink juice and calmed down as he watched a little bit of Sesame Street on TV.  I purposefully wanted him to stay in his highchair a bit longer just to see if he would calm down in it and I'm glad that he did.  So what I think I am going to do is start feeding him something healthy every 2 hours so that hopefully we can take the desperation and frustration out of the food.

The speech therapist came today to help with Little G so I wanted to get a snack in Griffin and into bed by 10.  I got an Activia Yogurt out and he really enjoyed it without any fussiness, until he heard the spoon scrape the bottom.  I could see the frustration bubbling up within him.  Thankfully, he kept control of his feelings, I gave him juice, and now both of them are sound asleep in their crib.  Speech therapy went very well for Little G and she gave me pointers for Griffin as well.  I was sad that she didn't get to meet him but she will in due time.  She is keeping Little G on weekly appts because she isn't progressing as quickly as she would like for her to. 

A sweet moment today-  Big G was sitting on the floor with Griff and me.  She was sitting at his head as he laid on his back.  She started rubbing his face back and forth from the forehead to the chin, over and over again.  I told her to stop because I thought she was annoying him, she paused, Griffin reached up and put his hands over hers and controlled them back into the rubbing motion!  He was loving it!  Then she would clap her hands and he would clap his, then he would control her clap and giggle.  It was pretty sweet.  I am so thankful that he enjoys being touched and hugged!

With all of this being said, this little guy has been fairly easy!  This has actually been a pleasant experience.   Don't get me wrong, I prefer meal times to be more peaceful but hopefully, prayerfully, God will take away his food frustrations.  I keep waiting on the storm to hit but it hasn't yet...and I know that he will start pushing boundaries eventually just as any child would, but for now, he's super sweet and easy to care for.  I really think he is enjoying having one on one time.  I doubt he has ever had anyone pay attention to him the way that Chris and I have over the past couple of months.  Not even a good nanny can give the love and attention that a parent can.

As I checked on him today during his nap, it was just dark enough in his bedroom that I had a hard time seeing him.  He had a little receiving blanket over him and I promise you, I could not see him, he is just that tiny.  In the lighting, there was hardly a bump in the blanket where he was laying.  Bless his little heart. 

But anyway, all is well here!  Please continue to pray that dude has a great doctor's appt on Friday and that he receives excellent care.... also, that his food frustrations ease.  It's time for this little boy to heal!

A quick PM update-  3 times today, dude has cried when I put him down after cradling or hugging him in my arms.  I'd say that's pretty good for bonding!  Thinking I may get the Moby wrap out.  Still a lot of fussiness but I think his tummy and/or eyes are bothering him.   Ever since we were visiting him in the orphanage, the eye that crosses flares up a lot and I really thing he could possibly have a blocked tear duct.  Looking forward to Friday!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Eggs, You Either Love 'Em or You Hate 'Em & Another Amazing Blog by the Hubs

Maria's View-

What is up with my little dude and eggs?!  I'm so confused.  Scrambled eggs are so quick and easy for breakfast.  I always fix them for myself and Little G because, for her, they cool so quickly, unlike oatmeal.  It would be perfect for Griffin as well because once he's ready to eat, he's READY.  But for some reason, he gets so frustrated when he eats them.  So I think I'm going to have to take them off of his food list for awhile. 

My guess is that he either loves them or he hates them.   Either way, he eats them, but he gets so upset.  He starts out ok...but as we go along, he starts to get fussy and then when I'm about to put a bite into his mouth, he lets out a frustrated cry, but he lets me put it in his mouth.  So I'm really not sure if he loves them so much that he knows that each bite is getting closer to the end of his meal, or if he hates them but thinks that if he doesn't eat them, he will have to go hungry.  So just to help him out, we will stick to oatmeal for breakfast.  He also does not swallow the eggs very well but does well with mostly everything else.  So if he loves them, he could be "storing" them for later, or if he hates them, he could be dreading having to swallow them.

Something new-  Dude was sitting on Little Gs rocking horse and he had a stacking ring in his hand.  I showed him that the stacking ring could actually fit on the rocking horse handle bar.  He looked at it, smiled, shook his head 'no' and then threw the ring off!  I think that's a pretty accurate response because he knew it didn't belong there.  Pretty awesome!  I handed the ring back to him and he then put it on the handle bar all on his own, shook his head 'no' and then threw the ring off.  I sat him on the floor and he put all of the stacking rings on the post, with me handing them to him in the correct order.  Then he would 'crash' them just like Little G always does!  Super cute.  I think he has so much potential!  We just have to help him find his way through the orphanage fog.

Something random- Last night, Chris and I made our way upstairs around 10 after watching another episode of Swamp People, I went straight to the bathroom to begin getting ready for bed and Chris made his rounds to check on the kiddos.  The door to the bathroom opened and in came Chris, cramping my space and doing my happy dance because all of the kids were sleeping, which is totally something that I normally do.  He beat me to the punch on that one!  So glad that we don't have cameras following us because people would surely think we are crazy!  or maybe they already do. ;-)  Don't answer that!

Until tomorrow!

Chris's View:

So, as I was talking to a friend today, I found out that the Popeye's Chicken on Ramstein is closed.  Big deal, many of you may be thinking.  It is a big deal to me though.  It's not that I ate there that much... maybe 5 times in the over 3 years we have been stationed here.  It is what this place means to me though.

See, way back in 1997, less than a year after I joined the military, I was tapped to deploy for my first time to Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia, at one time the busiest combat airport in the world.  It was me and one other guy from the 391st Fighter Squadron located at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho.  Todd Prisch was his name, and to this day, one of the best people I have EVER met.  Anyway, if you understood that I was in a Fighter Squadron, much less, that squadron was in an Air Expeditionary Wing, you'd realize that us travelling just 2 people is unusual.  Any who, enough boring military stuff.  We flew from Idaho to Utah, Utah to Chicago, Chicago to Frankfurt, then took a bus from Frankfurt to Ramstein Air Base.  Here, we got stuck for 4 days, trying to get an onward flight to Saudi Arabia.  The first place we ate was Popeye's Chicken.  See, up until that point, I had not had a chance to go home and get anything even remotely Southern or Cajun since I got to Mountain Home.  This little oasis in the middle of Europe made me feel closer to home than ever.  Even Todd seemed to understand what I was going through... he'd been there before... young Airman on his first deployment and the stress & uncertainty.  I was doing everything I could to hang on to even the smallest piece of home and youth and innocence... yeah, I know, maybe I wasn't "innocent" at this point in my life, but for sure, my life changed from that point on.

See, this little place, this tan building in the middle of a parking lot in front of the new base gym, is pretty significant to me.  Much like the lives of my children, I am trying in earnest to cling to every bit of youth that they have left... every little bit that is flying by, at least in what seems to be, faster than my mind can collect memories about the times.  It stinks!  Parents get this.  Expectant parents don't think this will happen to them, and people who have no kids or are single really have no clue!  You do not realize how much your life changes when you have a child.  It is the most amazing thing that could happen to someone, but it is one of the scariest, frustrating, stressfully, sad things that will ever happen to someone!

Even worse, and better... yes, I keep contradicting myself, but there is really no other way to describe it... is when you adopt a child.  I was talking to a man who he & his wife are to leave shortly to go adopt their child.  I explained to him that he really has no idea of what is about to happen to his life.  Something fundamentally changed in me during this process.

It is no secret that I had a rough upbringing financially.  So, more so than most parents, I want my children to NEVER have to worry about anything.  I want them to have everything!  The little things, the big things, the important and the frivolous.  I'm not saying I give in and get them everything they want, but they definitely have EVERYTHING they need.  That's not to say that I don't want my kids to dress in $100 t-shirts & jeans & $500 pairs of shoes.  If that's what they want, it's what I want, but wants do not have to become needs.  What changed though is that I saw exactly what nothing is.

Nothing, according to Webster's, has 3 entries:

1- not any thing; no thing

2- no part

3- one of no interest, value or consequence

As I described to the man, an orphan meets all 3 of these at the same time... they are the definition of nothing.  In fact, it goes beyond that.  They have so little of nothing, there should be another word.  It is heartbreaking.  It makes me, as a father, see that there is something out there that is so much bigger than myself.  There is a kid who has absolutely, well, nothing, since there is no word that truly describes this state of being.  It makes me want, even more so, to give everything I have to replace that  nothingness for this child, my son, and to give even more of everything that matters, that REALLY MATTERS, to all of my children.  Things like love, joy, adventure, memories, hopes, faith, truth, honor, respect, you name it.  See, after seeing the situation that these kids are born into, or left in, makes me realize that it's not the $100 t-shirts & jeans or the $500 shoes.  While our children may one day think these things are what they want, it's is actually the things that REALLY MATTER, that they desire, they crave, and they will cherish forever.

See ya'll later!

Monday, June 18, 2012

2nd Day Home-A Great Day

Maria's View- 

So last night, dude went to bed at 6 because he was just so tired.  Well, around 11 when I made it up to bed, he was wide awake and rolling around in his crib.  I went in to check on him and decided to pick him up to change his diaper.  It was so wet that it was hanging half off of him and his PJs were damp.  So I took him into my room to change him and sent Chris to find some PJs.  Well, we have a low supply of boy pajamas, so, well... he had to wear some of Little Gs PJs.  So dude went back to bed in purple PJs.  I don't think he liked it too much because he didn't want to go back to sleep!   I PROMISE, it's the last time he will wear girly clothes.  Around midnight, he started moaning out pretty loudly so I went in and got him, brought him back to bed with me and let him lay on my chest.  He was pretty content with that, but he decided to roll off and lay beside me instead.  I was pretty surprised that he was okay with being that close to me.  I'm quite certain that he has never slept with anyone in his life, other than us.  Around 3:45, I had had enough and decided to take him back to bed.  I just couldn't rest with him kicking me with his little bony feet!  lol.  So I eased him up and laid him in his crib and he went right back to sleep. 

He slept great and we did breakfast in shifts.  The girls and I ate breakfast while Griffin was still sleeping, then I rushed around to get my shower, kind of combed through my hair a bit, no make up, but hey...I got my shower!  And then got little dude up.  He woke up with a smile on his face.  So sweet.  He ate his breakfast very well.  Today has been much better with food aggression with all meals and snacks.  I didn't give him anything super exciting though.  His food for the day has been banana flavored oatmeal, Activia yogurt, Sponge bob Chicken Noodle soup, and gold fish, and Princess noodles and a veggie will be for dinner with a side of Prune baby food.  I tried to give him milk to drink this morning but he wasn't too impressed.  I gave him apple juice instead.

Big G kept asking me to do a craft with her so I got my box of 101 cookie cutters out and managed to trace stars and flags so that she could paint and then decorate our living room door with them for the 4th of July. :-)  She was entertained for quite a while.  Score!

Chris got home early today and we went across the street to the park.  We had a lot of family fun as we watched our beautiful children play.  Have I mentioned how much I love being a mom?  :-)

A sweet moment-  Griffin will sometimes just lay down on the floor and play if he is tired.  This time, I noticed that he was trying to shut down with his fingers in his mouth and hand over his eyes... I decided that it was nap time so I went to scoop him up and he started laughing just as hard as he could!  Then I got to laughing.  He laughed the entire time I changed his diaper and then I put him to bed.  He slept for 3 hours!  Anyway, what a sweetie.

Something random-  I find myself just blurting out in a sing-song voice, "Dude has a fam-i-ly" to the tune of "nanny-nanny boo-boo"...  I'm not sure when I will stop doing that, but I'm sure that eventually he will be like, "Mom you are such a dork, of course I have a family!  What are you talking about?"  and that will be music to MY ears.

We have Griffin's first medical appt scheduled for Friday!  Praying that he is healthy!

My friend, Lura, provided a meal for us tonight and we are about to dig in!  Thank you so much, Lura!

Anyway, I hope y'all are having a great day!  Everything is going surprisingly well at the Solomon house! 

Love and Hugs!!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Day 1 And One More "G" has made 3!

Maria's View-

Today has been a great day!  We decided to hunker down a bit and just relax at home as a family for the first time in over 60 days!  I have needed some down time since getting sick and Chris and Griff really needed to recover from jet lag.  We are all antsy to get back in church regularly as a family but it will have to wait a bit longer. 

Little G woke up at 0700 and I put her in the bed with us.  She is so excited to see her Papa again.   The funny thing is that she calls him "momma" and she calls me nothing.  I tell you, this girl is something else!   So she sat in bed with us for awhile, constantly saying, "mommmm-ma!", "mommmm-ma!" and finally, I was like, "Chris, she's talking to you!!"  haha

I scooped her up, finally, after realizing that sleeping in would not work out for me, and headed down stairs.  I fixed oatmeal for the 2 little ones, thinking that Griff would wake up at any minute.  Before long, Big G came bounding down the stairs wanting to make breakfast in bed for her papa.  That's all fine and good but it was only 0730 and I knew that Chris needed to sleep.  So I told her that we would wait until he had plenty of time to sleep in, because that's actually part of Father's Day for him, and she was disappointed, but agreed.
0930 rolled around and the guys were still asleep!  Finally, Big G asked if she could go wake Papa up for breakfast in bed and I told her to just go check to see if he's awake yet, but to NOT wake him up.  Needless to say, Chris came stumbling down the stairs right behind her.  ha ha.  So we cooked breakfast for him.  G and I were having so much fun until she got her first skillet burn on her hand.  It's not a bad one but it hurt, nonetheless.  So she delivered Chris his Father's Day breakfast to the living room in tears. :-(  Papa gave her lots of hugs and kisses, though.

1000 rolled around and Griff was still sleeping!  So Chris decided to wake him up.  I prepared his oatmeal, again, and he gobbled it down.  He got a bit fussy with it but it wasn't too bad.  By this time, Little G was ready to go down for a nap.  We must get these kids on the same nap schedule!

Lunch rolled around and little G was still sleeping, so I fed Griff his left over chicken noodle soup from last night and he did pretty well with it.  Fussy at times but nothing too bad.   Chris and I had leftovers, Big G had a sandwich and fruit, and once Little G woke up, we fixed her a plate of ham, cheese, and Mandarin oranges.  She cleaned her plate for once!  Very proud of her.

Then we decided to take a walk to the park and have some fun.  It was so awesome to see all of our Gs playing together.  We piled them into the German style swing and they would have stayed like that forever, had I not been too concerned about sunburn!  I forgot the sunscreen.  The sun was blaring right in their faces.  Griff and Little G loved the slides!  He hasn't forgotten how to do it.  That little boy is BRAVE and so is his little sister.  He would go down headfirst without hesitation, Little G would only go down the right way.  I'm good with that.  ha ha.

Big G is so sweet with her brother and sister.  She did her best to shield their eyes from the sun and shared the swing every time they wanted to use it.  She also insisted on pushing the stroller, even though the weight of it and the kids are hard enough for me to push!  She did say, "It's so good to have 2 babies in the family."  I love her.  I keep picking G's brain about her new brother and she just keeps saying, "I like him!" 

Dinnertime snuck up on us and it was 5:30 and Griffin was ready for bed.  Since he had slept so late, and then we went to the park, he did not have a nap.  So we decided to just feed him a jar of his last baby food from his old country of roast, potatoes, and carrots, while I cooked.  He ate it with not so much as a peep of a sound.  As I was cooking spaghetti, I gave him the empty noodle box to bang the high chair with and he was just as happy as he could be.  Baby food doesn't trigger the fussy response.  Interesting.  By the way, I gave him a baby food thing of prunes this morning as well.  He didn't care for it but he ate every bite.  But anyway, after he had eaten, Chris put him to bed in his cute little Southern Miss PJ's at 6.  SMTTT!  All of this to say, we still have yet to have a meal where all 5 of us are around the table.  Soon, hopefully!

I told Chris that I am just experiencing so much emotion that it's honestly hard to put it into words.   I think it's normal for anyone to be feeling the way that I feel, still a lot of nervousness but also a lot of love.  A LOT.  Chris was holding him today in the recliner when I was about to start cooking.  I just had the most overwhelming urge to hold him... so I did.  And just rocked him in my arms in place for about 5 minutes.  I experience anger, too.  Anger in that I couldn't get to him faster, that I didn't rescue him as a baby, even though I know that's not realistic... I'm angry that he has been locked in an orphanage.  Angry that he feels that he has to scream for his food, compete for it.  Not angry at him, angry at the 3 years of life that he was dealt.  But for whatever reason, there IS a reason for it. 

Last night, as I was tucking Big G into bed, around 10'ish, I heard him babbling in his bedroom.  Then  I heard him yell out.  I walked to the hall and tried to see in his room but my eyes had not adjusted to the dark.  I squinted hard and then just decided to go into his room.  When my eyes adjusted, he was just sitting there with his little legs hanging out of the crib and holding on like he was peering through jailhouse rails.  It honestly was adorable.  I scooped him up and took him to my room to change his super soggy diaper.  I laid him down and was just struck again by his tiny size.  He is a good 3-4 inches shorter than Little G and a good 8lbs or so lighter, although it seems like much more than that.  Yeah, no matter how hard this journey may get, he's worth it.  Very worth it. 

It's been a great day. We have a lot to figure out about our little guy. It's hard because he doesn't show much emotion unless it comes from within himself, if that makes sense. If he smiles, it's because he wants to smile, not because you have smiled at him. But we will figure him out! We have a lifetime to do it.

I love having my family back together again.  There's no greater feeling.

Okay, well, we are so behind on our "date night" TV shows so Chris and I are going to watch some Swamp People tonight!  Choot 'em!

Happy Father's Day, y'all!!!

Chris's View-

Man... the best Father's Day gift EVER!  Reunited with all my kiddos under one roof!  There is honestly no better feeling than that!

I think Maria's internal scale is off... I think Griffin is a good 10-12 lbs lighter than Dee!  LOL!  I love all my kids though!

Hope ya'll had a great Sunday!

See ya'll later!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Day 61-Finally, All Together, Under One Roof!

Chris's View-

I'm not going to go into super blog mode, but want to pass on the events of the travel day.

We got to New Orleans airport and got checked in and through security.  We made our way to the gate to wait for the food places to open to grab us some breakfast.  While we were waiting, the gate agent came over and began filling out a tag for our stroller to be gate checked so I would have it in Newark.  About that time, some very familiar looking individuals came walking down the concourse.  I looked at the gate agent and asked, "Isn't that R.J. & Jay Paul?"  She looked at me funny ans asked, "What are you talking about?"  Then I saw R.J.'s infamous rat tail braid and I knew it was them.  In all my years of flying, I have never run into celebrities!  I asked the agent to hold on a second, and I rolled Griffin over to them.  I explained that I was in the military stationed in Germany and that my family watched Swamp People and it really kind of helped us feel at home, and if we could take a picture.  They both shook my hand, and I could immediately tell that R.J. is a pro arm wrestler... he has a monster grip!  They posed with Griffin while I snapped an iPhone picture (my camera was packed in my suitcase).  They shook my hand again (by this time it was nearly broken!  LOL!) and we said our goodbyes.  They were really nice people for some random dude interrupting their travels at 5:20 in the morning!

Afterward, we got a fruit & yogurt parfait to share for breakfast.  Then came the real excitement.  The parfait was strawberry & peach.  I tried to avoid the strawberries as much as I could, and focused on the peaches.  I gave him the tiniest piece... literally, I don't think I could have gotten it much smaller... and as I was preparing his next spoonful, I looked up and he's jamming his hand in his mouth.  At first I though, yuck, this is going to be a mess.  He then extracted the piece of peach and took a big gasp of air.  I guess he was choking and fished out the item that was blocking his breathing himself!  Yikes!  It can happen just that fast.  He cried for about 5 minutes and was then ready to finish his breakfast.

The first flight was uneventful.  He slept all the way to Newark.  When we got there, we went to the United Counter to ask about a possible upgrade to Economy Plus, like what we had on the way to the states.  The lady said I'd have to speak to the gate agent to see if she could move some people around since it seemed to be a pretty full flight.  Okay, so, we began our 8 hour layover.  We walked around a good bit till lunch.  We shared some oriental grilled chicken & steamed veggies.  He ate really well, so I figured he'd fall asleep with a full tummy.  Nope... I guess the activity was too much to take in.  He fought off sleep for the full 8 hours!

Just before time to get on the plane, we got us some dinner.  We shared a steak sandwich & mashed potatoes.  He ate some bits of steak, a few grilled onions, a good bit of mashed potatoes, and some bread from the sandwich roll that I didn't eat.  I had a feeling I would be getting some push-back from him at this meal since he was definitely tired.  I worked it out with the server to get everything taken care of to make a speedy get way.  Sure enough, as soon as I picked him up, he totally melted down... like Chernobyl melt down!  I had to take him down through the concourse a little way to get to a window to try to calm him down.  He was just tired, and that I feel, added fuel to the fire for his melt down.  After about 5-7 minutes, he was cooled back down and back in his stroller chewing on GM.

We got on the plane, and he fell right asleep.  He slept for all but the last hour to hour and thirty minutes of the flight to Germany, and even when he woke up, he just lounged around quietly.  It was a peaceful flight... for him.  For me though, I had to keep the guy beside me from trying to sleep on my shoulder!  This trip has been the worst for poor seat partners!

We got to Frankfurt, made our way through passport control, baggage claim & customs, then it was off to meet the family!  A long trip finally complete... our family reunited!

See ya'll when I see ya'll!

Maria's View-

WHEW!  Big G and I just got dinner in the oven and Chris, Little G and Griffin are asleep upstairs.  I better get this written while I have a chance!

Today has been a wonderful day!  Our day started bright and early with me waking up at 0430, still with an extremely sore throat.  Tonsillitis, for sure.  The girls and I had to be on the road at 0600 so that we could pick up our friend, Lura, at 0620, and then head on to the airport!  In the meantime, our photographer, Erica, was on her way, too!  We got there with plenty of time to spare so Lura was excellent at keeping the girls entertained while I kept my nerves in check.

I can't describe to you what was going through my mind in the 2 hours that we waited at that airport for them.  Reality was hitting me... many different emotions.  So, so many.  I kept myself together, though.

I had felt so bad last night and just needed to go to bed, so we didn't make signs for Griffin to welcome him home.  So Lura and I went to the flower shop at the airport and bought Little G and Griffin an I Love You balloon and bought Big G a pink daisy.  And we waited some more...

We finally got a text that they had landed!  Chris said that he was exhausted and Griffin was wired.  By this time, Little G was starting to melt down, in need of a nap.  A few texts and about 30 mins later, our photographer spotted him coming out of the exit!  But before we could get to him, he shot right up the escalator and was gone!  I called and called because I really didn't want to leave that area and begin a goose chase... He called us back and told us to go up the escalator and he would be right at the top under the arrival and departure board.  So up we went! 

Seeing my husbands smiling face was just what my heart needed.  He was standing there, beaming ear to ear with our tiny little boy in his arms.  He stood him on the floor as Big G made her way over and bear hugged her Papa and quickly moved on to loving on Griffin.  Such a sweet sight.  I made my way over with Little G and knelt down so that they could see each other eye to eye.  Little G said, "BAY-BE!" and she rarely says words at all.  So precious.  We switched off, Chris took Little G and I took Griffin.  Little G picked right up where she left off with her Papa even though it's been well over 65 days since they have been together.  Griffin went right to me and I honestly feel that he knew who I was.  I stood up with him and he immediately made the celebration noise that he use to make at the train when he would take steps for us.  I knew then that he wanted me to bounce him up and down, so that's just what we did.  Yep, it was time to celebrate! 

Big G then came over and asked if she could hug her baby brother so she got a few in and Griffin rested his little head on Big G's chest.  She also gave him his balloon and he seemed to like that a lot.

We loaded up into the van and home we went!  All 3 of our children passed out in the van, completely drained.

We got home and Chris said that Griffin definitely needed to eat so I took out a jar of vegetable beef baby food and started feeding him.  It was a very pleasant experience and he ate about 3/4 of the jar.  I could tell that he wasn't excited about the taste but he ate it anyway.  I gave him juice, took him out of his highchair, and changed his diaper.  This little boy is the tiniest little guy.  His legs are just like little sticks.  He looks healthy from what I can tell, just very, very small...

Then, I fixed the Gs PBJ sandwiches and then made ham sandwiches for me and Chris.  By this time, Big G had scooted Griffin to the dining area on Little G's pink rocking horse so he sat next to the table and decided that he wanted to eat again.  Can't blame him...  He saw me give Little G a bite of my sandwich and he wanted some too.   So I gave him a pinch of the ham from my sandwich and he started his food aggression.  As he was chewing it, he was crying for more, but needing to swallow, but wanting me to shovel it in.  I just had to let him cry until he washed it down with apple juice.  I gave him several bites like this and he wasn't getting any calmer so I ended lunch for me and Griffin and went to the living room.  He was pretty fussy for the next 2 hours.  All of this to say, though, that his food aggression and fussiness could definitely be worse.  He has a lot of healing to do and he has to learn to trust that he will always have food.  Always.  He will never have to go  hungry again!  So my theory is this:  If the food is just kind of blah, like baby food, he has no food aggression... but if it's something good and he really likes it, he cries.  I'll see if I'm on track as time goes by!

Chris has a way with him, for sure.  He truly is Chris' son.  I have to win him over. :-)  At one point, he was on the floor at Chris' feet and I sat on my knees and just made my presence known to him.  He came over to me willingly, laid himself across my lap, and laid there for the longest as I rubbed his back.  It was a very sweet moment.  I think the new atmosphere and new kids (competition) are just a lot for him right now.  I think he wants to kind of shut the world out a bit and it's pretty hard to do that when Little G is in the picture! LOL

Dinner tonight was enchilada casserole for us and chicken noodle soup for the Gs.  Griffin was still napping, so we let him nap while we ate our dinner, then we woke him up, brought him to the table and fed him his chicken noodle soup.  He did better with the soup, though.  However, he would still act like he was building up to get really upset, but I would take his hands and rub his tiny little arms as a distraction and it worked every time.  I even got a smile or 2 out of him.  I honestly don't think he cared much for the soup, though.  I'll test my theory again tomorrow. :-)

Bath times went well, Chris bathed Little G, and I bathed Griffin.  Griffin loves his bath time, for sure.  It's so cute to watch him try to wash himself, scrubbing his little hands over his head and tummy.  So cute.  He would scare me a bit by putting his head under the water, purposefully, but he would hold his breath!  He never came up coughing or gagging.  Pretty interesting.  Big G was a lot of help, too.  She's great at entertaining the little ones!

Activia Yogurt is going to be a standard evening snack for the little ones now.  I hope that it will help with his tummy issues.  And then it was time for bed.  Chris took Griffin up and once he was tucked in, I put Little G to bed.  Once she was tucked in, I snuck into Griffin's room and sat on the floor at the foot of his bed and just watched him... imagining that he would do these same exact things as he lay in his crib in the orphanage.   He was laying on his back, knees bent, feet flat on the bed, and waving his little hands in the air and then clapping them together.  Just as calm as he could be.  I prayed to God that he would help this little one to just live a happy life.  That he will embrace our family and overcome the food and trust issues...God can do that, He can heal him.  No doubt about it.  God has great plans for this sweetie.  Can't wait to see the young man this little boy will become!

Happy Father's Day, early!!!!  Especially to my awesome hubby who has done everything possible to get this little boy home! 


Friday, June 15, 2012

Day 60-They Are On Their Way HOME!

Maria's view-

I doubt VERY seriously that Chris will blog today due to all of the travel.  I do know that he has a very long layover, though.  So he just may!

Seems like he had a very interesting morning with little Griffin since he got to meet some Swamp People at the airport!  So exciting!  I can't wait to hear all about that.  Chris will post pictures of it, for sure.

I woke up, not feeling very well at all, having to be on the road with my kids at 0630 to sell my slot in the Lactation Conference that I was going to attend June 25-29.  I'm pretty bummed about not attending but my children need me more that I need that conference.  Maybe next time!  After that, we went to the commissary and I stocked up on groceries while still feeling like a wreck.  I bought enough food for 4 breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, and some baby food for Griffin, just in case he needs it... and some more diapers.  It hit me at that point that I have 2 children in diapers for no telling how much longer! WHEW.  If it wasn't for our "German Shelf" toilet, I would consider using cloth.  I will definitely look into it when we are stateside again.

We got home and I stayed on the appt line trying to line up Griffin's first medical appt for an 1 hour and 30 mins!  I gave up when I needed to go and help a friend out who locked her keys in her car.  I needed to buy 2 umbrella strollers and new car seats at the BX but decided to wait until the hubby can help me.   Well, I guess we will actually be ordering new car seats because the BX had none, no surprise!

Big G got to spend her birthday money that Maw Maw gave her.  $25 dollars bought her a new Friends Lego set that she's (I've) been working on for the past few hours between everything else that I'm trying to get done!   That Lego set is driving me nuts!  LOL.

I just took some Tylenol and I am feeling a bit better.  So I'm trying to get the house back in order.  I attempted to cook Cheddar Brats tonight and failed miserably... that's Chris' job, for sure! 

Honestly, all I want to do right now is crawl in bed with my girls and just relax.  So I think we may do that. :-)

They arrive tomorrow morning at 0925!  That's around 0225 Central time.  Can't wait!!  Praying that our little dude loves his new home, his new sisters, his new everything!  Dude has a family!  YAY!

We will update y'all as soon as we can!! 

Love and Hugs!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Day 59-Too Coincidental To Be A Coincidence!

Chris's View-

Today started a little rough, but turned out to be an amazing day!

When we woke up, I fixed Griffin some eggs & he decided to throw a fit.  He cried for about an hour & a half on and off.  It was a little rough, but his Maw-Maw pulled out the dancing chicken and it seemed to help soothe him!  After he was calm, I put him down for a little nap, knowing that he doesn't sleep in the car and we would be in the car most of the day.  While he napped, I got ready and packed.

When he got up, we finished packing, said our goodbyes, and headed south for the Coast.  We made a pit stop to see my Uncle Charles who had a pretty bad wreck a little over a week ago.  He was doing a lot better than I was expecting and was in very good spirits considering what happened.  He is going to eventually be moved to a swing bed facility in Poplarville for his rehab.

After our short visit, we loaded back up and got back on the road.  About 30 minutes after I left the hospital, I realized I had left the car seat that we would need to get our kiddos home.  They are expiring, so we are shopping for new ones, but I wasn't planning on buying a new one today... guess I will be shipping tonight.  We got to Keesler AFB in Biloxi, and got our little man enrolled in the military personnel system called DEERS.  It went surprisingly fast.  This essential step ensures that our little dude will be covered in case anything happens while we are on the road home.

Then the fun started.  We had some errands to run on the Coast... like trying to find a double umbrella stroller and at least 1 new car seat.  We went to Edgewater Mall in Biloxi, to look for a stroller that Sears said may be in their store... of course it wasn't.  We decided to have lunch, since it was that time.  Our little man got to try out Chick-fil-A.  He loved their grilled chicken nuggets.  He ate that, my cole slaw & the fruit cup that came with his meal.  He still doesn't like french fries, nor can he drink through a straw.  He'll learn on the straw part, and I could care less if he ever likes french fries!  After we were done eating, we headed out to the car... directly to the passenger side... that's when I realized that he was missing a shoe!  Ugh!  Back into the mall and backtracked our entire path... no shoe.  So, I stop by Payless and buy him a new pair for $10.  As we walked back out of the car, I see something underneath the driver's side of the car.  I leaned down and reached under the car... his other shoe!  How in the world did it get under the driver's side of the car?  We never went anywhere near that side of the car.  Anyway, he now has a new pair of shoes.

After we were done, we headed to Ocean Springs, to meet up with a family that we were stationed with in Germany, who answered a lot of questions for us on adopting from the country we adopted from.  They adopted their son from the country and he has Ds too.  I was shocked that I could not find one pay phone in the entire city of Ocean Springs.  What was I to do?  I decided to swing into the McDonald's parking lot, access their Wi-Fi, and call them via Skype!  Worked like a charm.  They gave me the address they were staying at... it sounded really familiar.  I mean, we lived in this city when we were stationed at Keesler, so it was very possible that I had to do something near where they lived at some point.  But I started to realize that 2101 Shelby seemed way too familiar... wait for it.....

Okay, about right now, one of our regular blog readers is jumping up & down!  YES, it was Ron & Shana's old house!  Look, there are coincidences, then their are things that are too coincidental to be coincidences!  God has planned this whole thing out from the very beginning, down to showing me that he's still looking out for us!  It was a great visit with the Coleman family & the Robert's family in the old Pardue house!  LOL!  Mikah, the Coleman's son with Ds, is such a sweety & their daughter is such a precious little girl too!  I appreciate the Robert's family opening their home to allow a complete stranger to come visit some friends.  Sorry, I'm going to take a break now & post a bunch of pictures!  LOL!

Afterward, and I feel bad cause I lost track of time and had to rush out, but Griffin & I had to truck it over to meet the Clement's family, some close friends who we went to church with at Woodhaven in Ocean Springs.  We met at a little restaurant called The Shed.  This place is an Ocean Springs institution, that just suffered a fire.  Within the same week, they were reopened, slinging great barbecue to their loyal customers.  Griffin LOVED the barbecue!  He had pulled pork, baked beans, cole slaw and 2 pickles!  He is now a Shed-Head for getting Fed at the Shed!  I kept the ticket for his memory book!  We also signed the table for him!  A funny thing happened as I walked up and met with Clayton, Robin & Maddie... a server came up and asked if my name was Chris.  I said yes and she said, a woman from Germany called for you!  LOL!  I was told by the Coleman's that Maria had been trying to get a hold of me about some immigration papers that arrived at her mom's place.  Robin had also just passed the same message to me, also with the information that my mother-in-law was on her way to The Shed with the papers... and the car seat!  AWESOME!  I joked with them that they weren't bringing me the car seat & papers, but that they wanted to come see Griffin one last time before we took off for Germany!  LOL!  Another break for a few pictures... LOL!

After we finished eating and visiting, we headed for New Orleans.  We decided to stay at an airport hotel so we didn't have to get up so early.  I mean, we still have to get up at 3am, but that's better than 1am!  We also are staying right near a Babies-R-Us.  We stopped by to see if they had any double umbrella strollers.  They had 3, but only 1 in stock.  It was just over $300!  Yikes!  That's pretty painful.  The lady who was showing the strollers went over to an end cap and handed me a box.  It is a set of clamps by the Munchkin Company that allows you to connect 2 normal umbrella strollers together... and the kicker... it's only $10!  Thank you very much!

We got back and I gave Griffin a bath.  I'll get a shower in the morning and we will start our trip home!  Yippeee!

See ya'll tomorrow... if I can!

Maria's View-

Well, last night, I started feeling a little achy and developing a sore throat... woke up this morning feeling the same way.  So I guess I have gotten what the girls have had.  Not good timing at all, being that Griffin and Chris will be home Saturday.   Neither one of them needs to catch this.  Feeling pretty rough and not feeling like getting anything on my list done.

Tomorrow, my friend has offered to watch Little G for me while I go grocery shopping and get the house stocked and ready for the whole family.  That will help so much, being that I doubt I will be feeling much better tomorrow according to how the girls did.  <sigh>

But anyway, Chris will be very busy today with taking Griffin to Keesler AFB and getting him enrolled in DEERS.  Then he will either stay in Biloxi or New Orleans so that he can be as close to the airport as possible to fly out on Friday.  They will arrive in Germany around 9:25 AM, or around 2:25 AM central time.  So I'm not exactly sure if he will get a blog post in!  Hopefully so.

Please pray for our crew!  Pray that little dude has a better day, that I get over this sickness and get it out of this house before Griffin arrives, and for safe travels for them!! 

Love and Hugs!