Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bananas

Today has been a wonderful Sunday!  Church, time with friends, a yard to play in, and the kids are completely tuckered out!  Perfection!

This morning, I started trying to help Griffin learn to sign "bananas".  His future PreK teacher told me to try to get more specific with his signs so we are starting with this one since he loves bananas so much.  Within 10 minutes, he was using my hands to do the sign so I think we will have this one down in no time!  Something about this sign cracks him up.  He was hysterically laughing the whole time I was trying to show him how to do it.  He is stinkin' cute!

After AWANA, we spent some time at our friends' home.  What a great time we had!  All of the neighborhood kids put on a show for the adults and they were just too funny.  That was the best entertainment ever!  Little G LOVED having a yard to play in and she didn't slow down at all.  She played her little heart out.  Once we leave this country, I will not settle on a house unless it has a yard.  She needs this so badly!  Griffin enjoyed a rocking horse that our friends bought just for him to have a safe place to play.  He sat on it forever with a huge perma-smile and just rocked and bounced, as content as could be.   I was particularly impressed with Little G's behavior!  She was a little angel!

Anyway, I hope y'all are having a great Sunday!

Love and Hugs!


Saturday, September 29, 2012

It's All About Poop.

So... I'm just gonna go there.  The dirty side of toddler hood.  The side that no one wants to hear about...or talk about...but it can't be avoided any longer.  Just keepin' it real!

So when we first got Griffin home from the orphanage, he was very constipated.  The poor little guy would go days without going.  We had to give him enemas to help him out.  Then the doctor put him on Miralax, one capful daily, and it turned his poop into diarrhea.  Talk about a mess!  And this was all happening during the time that we were having to collect stool samples to check for every parasite known to mankind.  (He didn't have any, thank goodness!)  How was I able to collect these samples?  I taped a sandwich baggie over his behind so that it wouldn't soak into his diaper.  I will never view sandwich bags the same way ever again.

The very first time I changed one of his poopy diapers, the smell of moth balls hit me like a wall!  I was absolutely, positively certain that he had, at the very least, giardia, since that's very common in the water supply there.  I was shocked to learn that he had nothing!  So where was the smell of moth balls coming from?  Even his breath had a very chemical smell to it.

Since then, I have learned that he has an overabundance of h-pylori, so I wonder if that's the cause of the smell.  Honestly, the smell isn't as strong anymore and almost undetectable.  His breath smells like "normal" breath now.  Maybe it was the lack of nutrients that was causing the smell, who knows.

Well, we have regulated his poop so that he will go once a day, by giving him 1/2 capful of Miralax.  We will keep up this regimen for the first year that he is home, hoping to retrain his colon to work properly and to repair the damage caused by impaction.

So, I'm totally going to gross you out right now, so skip on down if you don't want to read!  Every time I change his poopy diaper, the smell can linger on my hands for an entire day!  So if I change a dirty diaper every single day, my hands smell like poop every single day.  It is G-R-O-S-S!  Nothing turns my stomach like the smell of poop as I shovel down the first bite of my chips and salsa, which is my guilty pleasure when I put the kids down for a nap.  YES, I literally scour my hands.  I wash them a million times a day, use hand sanitizer, and the smell will still linger.  You know how an onion will linger on your hands for days once you chop one up?  Well, Griffin's poop does the same thing and is just as potent. 

So what have I decided to do?  As of today, I'm wearing medical gloves when he has a poopy diaper.  I plan to buy a huge box of them tonight so that I will never have poopy hands again! 

Bless his heart.

The kids and I went to the park today without the hubs.  I have learned that this is an impossible task at this stage.  There is just not enough of me to go around with these 2 toddlers!  The minute I let Little G out of the stroller, she takes off to do something that is too dangerous.  Every German playground has some type of dangerous element to it and that's the one thing she will go for.  I will have to sit Griffin down on the ground and run to save her, only to come back and find Griffin with a mouthful of dirt, sand, or rocks.  Griffin's OT suggested that Griffin play in sand, because it's something that he will surely not like to eat.  WRONG.  I thought, after the first mouthful, that he would realize that it doesn't taste good.  After I got it cleaned out of his mouth, he reached down, grabbed another handful, and shoveled it right on in again.  He was chewing on sand for the remainder of our time at the park.  It was even caked between his teeth!  Honestly, I believe he thought it was delicious.  What does this have to do with poop?  Well, the germaphobe side of me kicked in and the first thought that popped into my mind when that first handful of sand went in was, "Oh no!  He's gonna get the worms!" (said in my thickest southern accent.) And well, that will turn into a poop issue.  <sigh> 

As we were walking home from the park, we have to pass through an area that is the stinkiest place in Germany, surely.  There are horses along our walkway, and every time we pass through there, Little G will yell out, "EEEWWWWW!  POO-POO!  POO-POO!"  over and over again until the stench is behind us.   I agree, Little G.  It is very EEEWWW!    Those poor horses must have some serious bowel problems.

But anyway, that's about it for today.  The hubs and I are going to go on a little date tonight.  I'm sure the subject of poop will surely come up, at least once. :-) 

Happy Saturday!




Friday, September 28, 2012

First PreK Experience!

Today has been a marvelous day!  When Griffin and I dropped Little G off at MDO (she went in like a champ!), we went to his school and spent the morning with his teacher and students.  He loved every single minute of it.  We arrived, checked in, and his little eyes just couldn't take it all in fast enough.  The halls were decorated with art from all of the students and I could just see his little brain trying to take it all in.  Our morning began with playtime in the gym.  He loved the big open space so he just shuffled off, walked the width of the gym, turned around and headed back.  Eventually, his eyes locked on a socket so he zoned into that for awhile.  For a brief moment, he looked right at me across the way and acted like he was going to toddle over to me, but changed his mind.  The teacher and speech therapist were hanging out with him and seemed genuinely happy to be able to work with Griffin.  When the speech therapist saw him, she got excited and immediately started interacting with him for his assessment.  She brought out a scooter for him to sit on and he took off!   Next, we went to his classroom and had snack time.  My son has now experienced do-nuts, of all things!  Apparently this was a special snack and not a regular occurrence...but I'm proud to say that my little boy didn't even get excited over them.  He ate them, signed for more, but when they were gone, he was finished.   Basically, I had to just show them how he needs to be fed since he has a tendency to pack his mouth full, so they were taking notes.  (Sorry for the quality of these iPhone pics.  Better pictures on his official first day, I promise!)

After snack time, we had circle time.  Everyone sat in chairs around the smart board and we watched interactive music videos, danced, and sang.  Griffin loved it.  However, he does not feel the need to sit still in the chair, so I think they will have problems getting him to stay seated!  When the day was over, the teacher asked me if I would mind that he attends the afternoon class instead of the morning one.  There are only 3 students in the afternoon class that goes from 12:00-2:20.  The morning class was extremely busy, even with 2 students absent...so that's a no brainer.  The only conflict I see is that he won't get his nap after lunch.  However, he doesn't tire easily and will more than likely be fine.  This also means that I won't get my peaceful Mother's Day Out break, but that's ok.   I want what's best for him.   Next Friday, he will try the afternoon class.  After we were finished, we were able to join Big G for lunch in the cafeteria!  She is so proud of her little brother!  Griffin sat next to her and snacked on cheerios while Big G ate her pizza lunchable.  Then it was time to pick Little G up from MDO and she was excited to see us and ready to go!  I'm so relieved that she enjoys going now.

This morning, as we were in a rush to get through breakfast, I glanced over at my FB and noticed that our base thrift store listed a wooden step stool that converts to a chair for only $20!  I quickly went through Griffin's OT paperwork and found the order form for this same exact chair!  It costs almost $300 brand new!  I called the thrift store and they held it for us until Chris could pick it up.  God totally lined that up for us, I believe.  What are the odds of that exact chair, which is not a common thing to have in a household, being dropped off at our local thrift store?   Thanks for saving us some money, God! 

So, what's so special about this chair?  Well, it allows Griffin's feet to be firmly planted on a board, and as he grows the board will be moved down until he is grown.  Having his feet firmly planted improves his hand/eye coordination.  I need to buy a harness for it before he's able to use it though.  Guess how much that harness costs?  50 euro!  So I am going to see if someone stateside can get one for us.  Here's the link to the chair if you are interested.

But anyway, Griffin was on cloud 9 at his big boy school.  Honestly, I don't think he wanted to leave!   I hope y'all have a great weekend!

Love and Hugs!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Mr. Grumpy Pants

Today was actually better with Griffin's mood but he still isn't himself.  He has been having a lot of sinus issues lately and it really began when he was prescribed daily allergy medicine to try to clear the fluid out of his ear.   He may have had a cold, too, but my educated guess is that his sinuses have been blocked off for so long that the allergy medicine has reduced the swelling in his passages and everything is finally able to drain.  Lots of junk and he has finally gotten use to the nasal bulb and will let me clear his nose out.  Finally.  Let me tell you, this boy can put up a great fight!  Mommy always wins, though. :-)  He actually smiled when I cleaned his nose out before bedtime tonight...I always praise him like crazy when it's over, so I think he was expecting his "BRAVO!  GOOD, GOOD, GOOD!"

He only threw his sippy cup on the floor one time today!  I have really been working on that and it may have finally clicked with him.  WOO-HOO!  I actually have a sippy cup leash that I have started using for Little G.  I would use one with Griffin as well, but it's too distracting for him.

I noticed at dinner tonight, that Griffin is moving his food around much better with his tongue!  I really feel that his muscle tone is improving in his mouth!  Papa cooked him some chicken kabobs and he wasn't a fan.  He ate every bite, however, it was a long slow process...so I was able to really watch him eat.  I know that I need to get him to start using a straw sippy cup.  However, this boy is stubborn and we had to search the world over for him to have the exact sippy cup spout that we had bought in his birth country.  Changing him over is going to be very difficult.  Finding motivation is going to be difficult because he's not a big drinker.  A straw will strengthen the muscles in his mouth and prepare him for speech.  I have a few tricks up my sleeve...I'm just not in a huge rush to start.

Tomorrow, while Little G is at Mother's Day Out, I will be taking Griffin to his PreK classroom!  This is just a tryout for him to get the feel of his classroom and for his teacher to know how to prepare for him.  He won't officially start until probably late October or early November.  I was told that I could drop him off or stay with him.  I'll be staying. :-)   I have his Spiderman backpack all ready to go!  It's actually bigger than he is!  haha.  And yeah, I will probably cry. 

Please say a prayer for him!  He actually loves being in his Sunday School class and acts like he wants to stay when I drop Little G off for Mother's Day Out, so I feel that he will love it!  I just hope this class will be a great match for him.

I'll update tomorrow!

Goodnight from Germany!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Zip Lock Bags of Toys=FUN!

Last night, I did something different with the toy area in our living room.  I got a bunch of gallon size zip lock bags and put all of the small stuff in the bags.  In one bag, I put all of the small animals, both stuffed and plastic, a couple of rattles, and bells.  In another bag, I put all of the wooden puzzles pieces that always get misplaced.  The next, I put all of our wooden blocks, along with the little cart that they go in.  In another, I put the stacking rings and stand... so on.  After breakfast, the Twinkies were both very interested in the way I sorted everything.  They couldn't wait to get into the bags!  Griffin was just kind of taking it all in but Little G was all about digging in.  I paced her and made her play with one bag at a time and made her clean up each bag before she moved to the next.  We had quality play time!  It was fabulous!  Griffin has played more than he has ever played.  I bought Griffin 2 plastic dinosaurs before we even met him, took them to the orphanage, and he wouldn't so much as even touch one.  Today, when Little G took them out of the bag, he picked one up and walked it on the floor!  Then I took the other one and mimicked what he was doing.  Next, he took interest in the wooden puzzles that Little G brought out.  He was able to put together a 3 piece wooden puzzle with a little bit of assistance!   So proud of him.  Little G was able to stand all of the animals up on their feet.  However, when one would fall, she would instantly bite her hand, or buckle backward and hit her head.  <sigh>  I would say "HELP!" and she would say, "hep", but she wasn't making the connection that I will definitely help her if she would just say that word!  It's so hard to read her and I have zero time to try to prevent it because it happens in an instant.

I wasn't able to be here for speech therapy for Little G today because I had planned on taking Big G on a mommy/daughter date.  We went to the library, to the sporting goods store to buy new ballet slippers, and then to Macaroni Grill with friends.  We had a great time!  Papa held down the fort back home and had a nice conversation with the speech therapist.  She was very interested in hearing about Little G's behavior after both trips to the ER within about 2 weeks of each other (the first trip for a cut, the second one for her arm).  Both times that she went to the ER, she was extremely well behaved.  When she got home, she was tremendously happy, calm, snugly, just a totally different little girl.    The speech therapist is going to talk to their occupational therapist to discuss these scenarios.   She believes that Little G could be extremely routine oriented.  Around July, she was in the ER for an extremely bad, out of the blue, ingrown toenail.  So it was at that trip that she really learned what happens at the ER.  That trip was difficult for her, but the next 2 trips weren't.  So the ST thinks that she may find peace in those routines, even though the ER isn't a pleasant place to be, it meets some kind of sensory need.  With all of this being said, I have a pretty good routine going on every day, so that can't be all of it.  Wake up, bus stop, breakfast, dress, Sesame street or Signing Times, snack, play, lunch, nap, bus stop, snack, play/read/or outside, dinner, family time, bath time, bedtime.  Some days we have appts so that may throw her off a bit.

Griffin just goes with the flow.  He never wants for anything, except when Little G takes a toy away that he's playing with.  He never asks for food.  I wonder when he will start doing this?  As you can see from our routine, I make sure he has plenty of food since he has the food frustrations, but eventually, I would like to see how he lets me know that he's hungry.

I have noticed that Griffin is singing "la la la" to his orphanage song that he loves.  It is actually pretty much on tune and I can definitely recognize the melody!

Anyway, that's about all that's gone on here today.   I just want to thank all of you for your prayers and encouragement for our future.  We appreciate all of you so much!  God bless y'all!

Love and Hugs!

PS.  Griffin LOVES spinach! 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Decisions...

Chris's View-

I have been in a battle.

As many of ya'll know, I have been in a battle against... well, myself.  In October 2010, my body started attacking itself.  It started with a sore ankle.  When I say sore, I mean I couldn't put any weight on it.  It eventually spread to both ankles, both knees, both wrists, my right elbow and the lower left side of my back.  The best way I have found to describe the pain to doctors and people who inquire about my pain is with this illustration.  You know when a car window breaks and the little odd shaped bits of safety glass are everywhere?  Well, when you walk on the pile of it, they grind together and make the hair on the back of your neck stand up... yes, that's what it is like.  When the pain is at it's worst in my elbow and wrists, it's hard to grip a 1/2 gallon carton of milk without using both hands.

What is wrong with me?  Well, your guess is as good as the doctors who "practice" medicine at the clinic... yes, that license definitely says "to PRACTICE" medicine.   They tested me for everything from Parvo (yes, humans can get Parvo too) to Lyme disease to numerous off they wall conditions.  I honestly was opting to go meet Dr. House and have him kill me for 20 seconds to find out exactly what is wrong with me!  They finally settled on early degenerative osteoarthritis.  But what does this mean?  Well, it meant that it was time for the military to decide if I was fit to continue serving.  Last week, the results came back.

The military found that my condition has caused me to become unfit to continue for 3 1/2 more years in the Air Force... 3 1/2 more years till my 20 years and my outright retirement.  So, what does this mean for me and my family?  Well, there are some good things and some bad things.

1.  The military has offered a retirement... a Temporary Retirement... which is about as weird as it sounds, with a ton of rules and restrictions that still leaves my family's future in jeopardy.  I have to fight for permanent retirement.

2.  The way the wording was on the Medical Board's findings opened a door to possibly get my Master Sergeant promotion back.  I may not get to wear it that long, but I earned that stripe.  There's something about being denied something you know you deserve.  I will have to fight for it, but honestly, what do I have to lose right now?  I'm no more a Master Sergeant now than I would be if they told me no again.

3.  Hurt pride.  Yes, pride... I know we are not supposed to be prideful, but I committed to doing 20 years and a day, and it is a punch to the gut to not be able to achieve that goal.  It was something that I had decided almost 7 years ago when I surpassed that pivotal 10 year point.  If you noticed with 1 & 2 above, it was something I had to fight for.  Honestly, I am done fighting.  We have fought as a family to try to get the military to help me, but to no avail.  There's only so much fighting you can do until you are too tired.  I totally understand & sympathize with Lance Armstrong here... when fighting becomes your sole focus, you really lose a lot of your life.

4.  I have never known real work outside the military.  Yeah, I held some jobs... cleaning fence rows at South Mississippi Electric Power Association in Purvis, praying I wouldn't get bit by a rattlesnake.  Gas station attendant at Big K in Purvis, which oddly enough prepped me pretty well to be a day shift F-15 Strike Eagle maintainer!  I worked at the Library in Poplarville, MS, as a work study student, which actually prepped me pretty well for all the reading & regulations & military doctrine I'd face in ATC & Combat Airspace.  Oh yeah, then there was the stint as a stock handler at Poplarville Stockyard... uh, something about 2000lb crazy bulls running down a 10 foot wide lane wanting to kill you... the running of the bulls has nothing on some of them crazy cattle!  Needless to say, no real work experience that I can fall back on there.

5.  I have zero clue on how to negotiate a salary.  I realize how unprepared the military makes you for civilian life.  Yes, they have what they call TAP (Transition Assistance Program), which is required by Federal law, but really, 5 or 10 days to teach you how to assimilate into civilian life... not quite sure how far you can get.  It's much like the episodes with the Borg in Star Trek... "Resistance is futile!"  "You will be assimilated!"   On a side note... don't tell our friend, Holden, that I just totally geeked out with Star Trek reference... I think he'd have a coronary, then proceed to talk my ear off about all things Sci-Fi that I know nothing of!  LOL!

6.  In the past nearly 17 years, I have had to commit 0.0 seconds worth of brain power toward what I will wear to work each day.  Blues, BDUs/ABUs, or PT Gear... pretty easy when your entire wardrobe for work consists of 3 outfits.  I have no professional attire, other than the shirt, tie & khaki's I bought to bust Griffin out of the orphanage.  Guess who has 2 thumbs and needs to go shopping?

7.  I have learned that many people do not know the meaning of stress.  Lots of folks generally think that since I am an air traffic controller, that I handle stress well.  Yes, I can talk to a pattern full of aircraft and get them to fall into place like an 8 year-old geek with a Rubik's Cube, but when faced with the inevitable loss of a job that pays for 100% of your medical bills and your house, stress takes on a whole new meaning.  I know I will find a job that will take care of the bills, but anyone who says it doesn't weigh on their minds is lying to themselves.

Tomorrow, at 2pm, I have to make a decision that could affect my family's future for quite some time.  I have to decide to accept the Temporary Retirement, and all it's restrictions, or to opt to fly to San Antonio to once again enter the fray and fight for the Permanent Retirement which I feel I have earned and deserve due to the condition that was aggravated by my service to our great country.  Yes, I will be going to fight for what I think is right.  I will be fighting a battle on two fronts... for my rank and for my retirement... but more importantly, I'm going to go fight tooth & nail for my family and for the security of our future!

Please keep me & my family in your prayers during this time.  It won't be easy, but I know God has a bigger plan for us... Here we are Lord, send us! (Isaiah 6:8)

Maria's View-

I'm married to an amazing man and I love him.  <3 

God will provide!

Monday, September 24, 2012

What A Morning...

Well, today was a stressful day.  I'm not gonna lie.  It all began with trying to get to the bus stop on time.  I had to have the little ones completely ready, clothes, breakfast, etc. so that we could leave after getting home from the bus stop.  Both of them have their OT appts at 0900 but I had to pick my husband up because he dropped his truck off at the shop.  So I did pretty well with getting everyone ready on time.  However, we were pushing it to the last minute.  So I rushed to get them in the double stroller and Big G opened up the garage door and that's when I noticed that it was pouring rain.  I have no rain cover for our double stroller (yet) and I had no time to transfer the little ones to the van because that would surely make us miss the bus.  I suppose I could have just taken Big G on to school.  Oh well, hindsight.  ANYWAY.  So we did what we had to do and got drenched.  Big G had her umbrella so she was fine.   After we got home, I had to redress the 3 of us and then headed back downstairs.  I put Griffin in the play yard in the garage and buckled Big G into her car seat...went back for Griffin and strapped him in.  About that time, a semi-truck pulled behind me.  (I have been parking in the street because the landlord is doing work on the front of our house.  We are parking exactly where the landlord said we could park and it was confirmed by the police.)  There was no oncoming traffic so he could have sailed around me with no problems.  He throws his truck in park, gets out, and approaches me.  Ok... about this time, I had already had enough and I honestly thought to myself, "bring it!"  He immediately started talking to me in German but I could tell it was about where I was parked.  I asked him in German to speak English to me and he shook his head, "no".  So I motioned to my van and he nodded yes.  I then said, "UMMM NO, I DON'T THINK SO!  (I then pointed to my van and the street) Landlord said YES! POLICE SAID YES!"  I was standing there in the rain, strapping my son into the van and he is going to tell me to move my van?!  Well, he left pretty quickly.  He may have heard the word "police" and thought I was threatening him. lol.  I don't know.  I noticed my landlady standing out on the balcony.  So I ran over to her and motioned in my crazy, ticked off charades, that the man who just left told me I couldn't park there.  My landlady is a very smiley person so she just smiled and waved.  I believe she was telling me not to worry about it.  So I jumped in my van and started pulling away when I looked in my rear view mirror and saw her chasing after me!  So she got to my window and I think she was trying to tell me that I can absolutely park in the street and to not worry about it.  I'm pretty sure she's feeling my stress about all of the work they are doing on the house.  It's really an inconvenience to me and she's never seen the stressed out Maria before.  I'm human... <sigh>.  Language barriers are hard.  The whole time I was talking to the man on the curb, I kept trying to blurt out Russian words.  I'm one confused American.  LOL

OT went great for the little ones.  Both of them did their very best and had a great time.  He is just so impressed that Griffin is as active and determined as he is.  He just never slows down.  However, it's a very slow pace of exploration.  He just shuffles around from thing to thing.  He may try to crawl up onto something so that may take a while or he may struggle to climb up the PT slide backward.  Something that I thought was funny...he started tossing foam blocks at Griffin to work on his reflexes.  Griffin absolutely love it!  The blocks would lightly bump into his face, he would flinch appropriately, but he would double over in laughter.   I think we will have lots of pillow fights in our future!

Also, Griffin did some hand motions for "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star!"  YAY!

Anyway, it was nice having the hubby off today to help out with the OT appts but he's back to work tomorrow though.  Looking forward to his retirement!  LOL.

Love and Hugs!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Nursemaid's Elbow

Poor Little G.  Yep.  She's gonna be that kid, the one who is always in the ER for one reason or the other.   Not even 2 weeks ago, she ran into a table and had to get dermabond under her eye.  Today, Chris picked her up and swung her into her highchair and we are assuming that her elbow slipped out of joint.  She didn't make a sound as she sat in her highchair, struggling to eat with the wrong hand.  Chris noticed that she wasn't using her arm at all and I took a look.  The minute I tried to lift it, she start crying and almost lost her dinner.  Needless to say, Chris immediately took her to the ER.  For her to cry, we definitely knew something was wrong.  I stuffed a couple packs of gummy snacks in his pockets and told him to give all of them to her!  Our poor baby.  Before they left, I explained to her that the doctor would make her bo-bo all better and asked if she remembered going to the doctor before.  She pointed to her toenail that she had to go to the ER for a few months ago and said, "Ba' bo-bo".  I love that we are having conversations now!  

Thankfully there was no waiting and they were carried right back to a room.  By that time, Little G had already popped her elbow back into place.  The doctor checked her anyway and explained how it happened and that it will be a weak joint for awhile...no more swinging her.  She will not like that at all. 

Within 45 minutes, they were already headed back home.  The moment I heard the door open, I went to the top of our stairs and called down to her.  I asked if she was all better and she said, "YESSSS!" and pointed to the stickers on her shirt.  I picked her up and rocked her for a good 5-10 minutes while she finished up the remaining gummy snacks.  She was so proud of herself and was in the best mood ever! (she rarely ever sits still long enough for me to hold her!)

So she went to bed a very happy, silly, little girl. 

Goodnight from Germany!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Little G is Paci-less

WOO-HOO!  We did it!  We made it through the rough patch, which really wasn't even bad at all.   This is day 3, I believe, of being without her pacifier and she has slept through the night, every single night!  The only difference that I can tell is that her naps are much shorter.  1 hour instead of 3 hours.  Oh well.  I can handle that!

When I got her out of the crib this morning, she had her chew brush hanging out of her mouth.  So cute!  I believe that she is using the chew tube, too.  I know for a fact that she expects both of them at bedtime because, the second she hits the sheets, both of her hands are outstretched and waiting.  In the van, I have a brand new toothbrush that she can chew on if she needs something.   That's going well, too!

She was put to the test today when we went to the park with our friend who has a 10 month old.  He had his pacifier and the second she had a chance to go for it, she did!  LOL.  She didn't get to put it in her mouth though, but she seriously wanted to.  Bless her heart!  I have to admit, I will miss hearing her pacify herself with one.  That's one of my favorite sounds in the world.

My least favorite sound is the sound of a sippy cup smashing on the floor. over. and over. and over. again.  All.Day.Long.  UGH!  I'm not sure why these 2 toddlers feel the need to throw them instead of placing them on their high chair tray!  Drives me nuts.

OHHHH!  Griffin can sigh "mommy" now!  I'm not sure if he relates the sign to me yet but he can definitely do it!  We will keep working on it!  So that brings his signs to "more", "please", "milk", and "mommy".  Yeah!

Anyway, I hope y'all have a great Saturday night!  The hubs and I are going to have a couch date and it starts in 30 mins!  YEAH!  Couch, a movie, and my fake coffee.  Sounds like a great night to me!

Love and Hugs!

Friday, September 21, 2012

PreK Evaluation!

Yesterday was a great day!  We have been looking forward to Griffin's PreK evaluation but I was also a bit nervous.  This is all so new to us so we didn't really know what to expect with the evaluation.  I dressed Griffin up and he looked so handsome!  The moment we entered the office, two ladies swarmed around him...one of which conducted the meeting.  The secretary said that she could tell already that he would be a class favorite. lol.

The meeting was pretty quick.  I had prepared the best way that I could... I knew and understood our rights as parents and a friend sent me an email of 10 mistakes that most parents make during IEP meetings.  So that was very helpful.  Basically, Griffin needs everything that they can offer.  They immediately began by saying that he needs Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapies.  Great!  I'm a bit on the confused side about what the next meeting will involve but I plan to call the office next week and get some clarity.  We didn't get to discuss any goals so I'm curious when we will talk about that.  Next Friday, Griffin will get to try his classroom out!  I will take him to school after I drop Little G off at MDO and can hang out and watch!  I'm so excited for him!  He won't actually start attending regularly until everything is worked out, probably in late Oct. or early Nov.  It will be great to see the dynamics of his classroom, though!  His teacher was in the meeting and she seemed like a great one, very kind and willing to provide the best.  We shall see!  On a side note, don't tell Chris, but since he won't dress like Gary from Rascal Flatts, I will just dress his son that way!  


 hahaha!



Yesterday, Little G said a phrase!  She pointed at Griffin as he sat in his highchair and said, "Bubba eats!"  Yay!  Very excited for her!  Also, I attended Big G's open house at school and I loved seeing all of her schoolwork that she doesn't get to bring home yet.  Check out her journal entry!

Today was MDO.  Little G was a trooper and marched right into her classroom and didn't even look back at me.  So proud of her!  While I was trying to sign in, Griffin slipped into the classroom by squeezing between the teacher and the doorway without anyone knowing!  He's a sneaky little guy!  I caught him right as he was about to get out of reach and had to pull him back.  He protested because he wanted to stay at MDO, too!  He REALLY wanted to stay.  Bless his heart.  So that made me even more excited about PreK.


Griffin and I had to run some errands while Little G was at MDO.  We went to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (the hospital that all the deployed soldiers on Army Wives go to. lol).  I had my follow up dermatology appt and Griffin was an absolute angel.  I pray that he is always such a great little kid to run errands with!  My dermatologist gave him some love and was so excited to meet him.  Afterwards, we went to the Java Cafe at the hospital and shared a chocolate muffin.  He loved it and showed no signs of frustration once it was gone!  So proud of him (and relieved)!

But anyway, Big G has a sleepover birthday party to attend tonight and she is crazy excited!

Have a great day!  <<<HUG>>>




Wednesday, September 19, 2012

No More Paci.

UGH!  What was I thinking?  Well, it had to happen before Little G turns 2, so here we are.  One more month until her 2nd birthday so the paci has to go.  The pacifier is starting to change the shape of her mouth, even though she is only using it at night and on car rides. I really should be cleaning my house right now, but she's upstairs screaming, I'm stressed, so here I sit. :-)

Little G did a 'no no' today.  She bit Griffin on the forehead.  She knew she had messed up the second I came around the corner.  She took off crawling into the cardboard box that she uses for a house and I captured her, took her upstairs, firmly stressed "NO BITE!", put her in her crib, and closed the door.  No pacifier.  I have no idea what to do and I'm hoping this was just a one time thing.  Biting is tricky with her because she actually bites herself when she gets frustrated.  I went back downstairs, scooped Griffin up, calmed him until he was happy again, and then made some lunch.  As I was cooking, I decided that I should just go ahead and get rid of the paci.  I had already made the first step by putting her in her crib without it for her time out.  (and I don't normally put her in her crib for a time out, it was just the best choice in the moment.)

During lunch, Little G kept pointing to Griffin's bite mark and saying, "ba (bad) bo-bo (I'm from the south and we say bo-bo instead of boo-boo ;-)" and I explained to her that she caused that bad bo-bo and made Griffin hurt.  After lunch, their normal nap time, I went ahead and took Little G up and explained to her that her paci was gone forever.  I took along with me a chew tube and a chew brush that her speech therapist gave us to try.  She willingly took the chew tube, surprisingly, but it didn't stop the tears.   She's been crying for awhile now.  I am going to keep her up there for the duration of her normal nap time and hopefully tomorrow will be a better day! 

When I weaned Big G from her pacifier before she turned 2, it was such a great experience.  I had talked her up for the moment by telling her that baby fishies need pacifiers, too.  When the time was right, we took her to the ocean and asked her if she was ready to give her paci to the baby fish.  She said yes and tossed it right in!  As I was giving her a huge hug, Chris grabbed it out of the water to get it out of sight before she could change her mind.  She cried a bit, but I gave her the pacifier strap that we always used to clip to her shirt.  She slept with that paci strap for months!  I would love to have had a great experience like that with Little G but she's so much different than her big sissy.  <sigh>  Maybe we can think of something creative for her to do with it tonight.  It's not something that we need to bring back into view after she's gone a solid night without it.

Griffin has his PreK evaluation tomorrow at 1:00!  I honestly have no idea what to expect, so please pray that it goes well!   Thank you!

Well, I will probably have many sleepless nights ahead!  Wish us luck!  LOL.

Love and Hugs!

Update:  Neither child took a nap today.  When she saw Griffin again,  she took it upon herself to kiss him on his "ba bo-bo".  Hopefully she understands! :-)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Want a Good Laugh??

So someone asked me if I would mind sharing one of Big G's funny stories that I spoke of here.  I asked her if she would mind, she smiled, and shook her head no.  This is one of my favorite ones.  Maybe you would have to be there to appreciate the humor but it honestly cracks me up every time it crosses my mind.  Are you ready?

June 2010-We were on vacation at my mom's house for the summer in MS.

"Oh my goodness...my sweet Big G is at it again.   My mom, G, and I were at JC Penney's shopping for some shirts for my niece, Ky.  I have to admit, I was pretty grumpy... pregnancy hormones, I guess (I was 6 months pregnant).  I honestly just didn't want to be shopping at all.  Big G, 5 years old now, was staying close but walking around the clothing racks.  She came up to me and said, "Mommy!  I found a sticker!"  To my horror, I glanced down and there, stuck across her shirt, was the sanitary sticker from a bathing suit!  It was stuck directly across her chest.  As she stood there, proud of herself for finding such a treasure, I screeched!  "GET IT OFF!  GROSS!"  She just froze.  Well, I didn't want to touch it!  "Moma, get it off of her!"  My mom started laughing so hard that she couldn't even see to get a grip on it, so I walked up, snatched it off of her shirt, and slung it as hard as I could away from us.  Gross.  By then, I had started laughing so hard that I had tears running down my face, my mom was still rolling as she dug around in her purse for hand sanitizer, and poor Big G was just standing there, totally confused, and wondering what was so funny.  I finally gathered myself together enough to be able to tell her exactly what that sticker actually was and where it came from.  Then she started laughing.  I really needed that laugh!"

I asked Big G if she remembered that and she doesn't.  I guess she blocked it from her mind!  And yes, we went straight to a bathroom and washed our hands.  AHHHH, I love her.

Have a great day!

Love and Hugs!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Learning More About These Kids Everyday

Another busy day today! 

First of all, Griffin has not felt well at all and he has taken it just like a man...which means horribly. LOL.  He has been grumpy and I had no clue for two days what was going on with him until his nose finally started running.  Today he is back to his angelic self.  He was so great today that he actually scored some extra play time tonight.  He really enjoyed it!

So this morning started off with getting both of the little ones to their Occupational Therapy Appts.  Chris got off work at 0200 and tagged along to help me wrangle them.  He also kept one child outside while the other was in their appt.  We started off with Little G's appt and she had a blast!  The OT is still just figuring out what makes her tick and they sat on the floor for the solid hour just working on puzzles.  She really stepped it up a lot today and knows so much more than even I knew!  Isn't it just crazy how society links the level of knowledge with the ability to speak?  At one point, the OT said that Little G was incredibly smart for her age, to which I said, "YAY!" lol... and he quickly said, "Nooooo!"  That threw me off a bit.  He explained that this isn't the best case scenario for a child who doesn't speak...that they have a tendency to "work the system" to keep from progressing in their speech and that they can figure out ways to work around having to speak by trying to stay one step ahead of the teacher.  I noticed Little G doing that a lot today.  Too funny!

Next, Griffin's appt went great, too!  He explored that room like crazy today.  He was literally everywhere and the OT was impressed with Griffin's drive to climb.  Of his patients with Down syndrome, he has not had many who have wanted to climb.  Griffin was giving it his all and worked hard today.  He caught on very quickly on how to climb a ladder to reach a rope that he had his eye on.  He loved jumping and playing on the trampoline as well!  He got some great belly laughs on that thing.  Then he got to play in the ball pit and his facial expressions were hilarious.  I don't think he liked it that much.  He sat there and tried to adjust to it but finally he just started tossing the balls out of the pit, one by one.  I guess he was thinking that if we wouldn't remove him from the ball pit, that he would remove the balls instead.  LOL.   He is majorly impressed with how well Griffin is progressing, especially after I told him about our first few days in the orphanage with Griffin... how he had no drive about him.  He would just lay down on the floor and try to shut down on us.  He would crawl but he had no endurance.  The difference is just amazing to us.  The OT (his name is Torsten) said that he believes that Griffin was storing up every bit of information that he could for survival.  He didn't miss anything at all while he sat in the orphanage and watched, day in and day out.  Now, since he is free, he's putting all of these things into motion and having a blast while doing it!  :-)  I totally agree! 

Torsten recommended that we buy an indoor trampoline for the little ones.  I had already planned on doing this but I just need to find the right kind with no frame.  Hopefully Santa will bring them one this year! 

From lack of use, Griffin's feet are extremely slick on the bottoms.  He slides around very easily and Torsten made the comment that it's like he is walking around in socks.  He also said that over time, his arches will build up in his feet and hopefully they won't be so flat.  He also stated that every muscle in his body was having to work overtime, but his balance was excellent. His muscle tone is making him so wobbly...so he's fighting hard to keep himself upright.

Torsten gave some suggestions of some things I should try for Little G and Griffin and I'm relieved that he suggested these things because I've already been doing them, simply because they love it.  He suggested that I throw them on the couch a lot, up into the air, hold them upside down, and swing them hammock style by the arms and legs, to meet their sensory needs.  He also encouraged me to put Griffin into situations where he has to struggle a bit to get free.  He said that by doing this, we will be teaching him problem solving techniques that will only help him in the future.  I've been doing this already by putting him on his back inside his empty diaper boxes.  He will struggle hard to get up since there's really not a lot of space, but he will do it!  While Griffin was doing his thing, he made his normal deep growling sound that caught Torsten's attention.   He said that he is meeting one of his sensory needs by making that growl.  It makes sense!  Growl to yourself and feel the sensation that it gives you.  He also encouraged that we keep doing deep pressure on both of them.  It works like a charm with Little G when she starts to get out of sorts.  If she is melting down, I can start squeezing each of her arms tightly and she will stop almost instantly.  The deep pressure helps them find themselves.

After those appts, we went home, had lunch, put Little G and Chris down for a nap, and then Griff and I went to his pediatric appt.  This was the followup for the fluid in his ears.  He weighed in at 25.7 lbs!  That is 5 lbs of healthy weight gain since his first pediatric appt 3 months ago!  He is the exact same height of 31.3 inches.  Since that appt, he has also had 2 teeth to come through.  The doctor put him on an allergy medicine to help clear the fluid out of his ears.  She wants to see him again in 1 month to see if they are clear.  If not, she will put in a referral for ENT to determine if he will need tubes.  She also put in a pelvis x-ray because Torsten is concerned about his hip movement.

But anyway, that's our day!  It's been another great one!  Tomorrow, I'm going to the doc for my migraines.  That's one appt that I can hardly wait for! 

Love and Hugs! 


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Why Do I Blog So Much?

Good morning!  I can't believe that I'm already blogging by 0830.   Amazing.  Little G is still sleeping and Griffin is content in his high chair, brushing his teeth.  He really enjoys this task. 

I slept until 0700!  Still have my headache, though.  Griffin was wide awake so we headed down stairs and I started breakfast, stretched, and pulled my upper back.  Now I can't move my arm without hurting.  <sigh> yay.  Chris got home from work this morning, exhausted, but he helped me out.  He scooped Griff up and started tossing him into the air and accidentally bonked his head on the ceiling.  Griffin thought it was hilarious and wanted Chris to bonk him again.  It's gonna be one of those days.  LOL.

There is a bazaar on base that is just awesome and I'm really wanting to go.  Chris and I were going to take the little ones on either Thurs or Friday (stroller days) but his work schedule changed that.  For the weekend, strollers aren't allowed.  So when I put the littles down for naps today, I'm going to take Big G and check it out.  When Chris wakes up, he will get the little ones ready and meet us there.  That's the only way this will work at this point.  I have my eyes set on a German style wooden Advent calender.  We've been wanting one for the past 3 years and since we are on borrowed time here, this may be our only chance.  We will see how this goes!

So why do I blog so much?  

1.  I have always loved to write.  This is my outlet.  I look forward to sitting down and getting all of this info out of my head.   When I first moved to Germany, I was pretty sad and missed my family and friends like crazy.  I bought a notebook and started writing.  I wrote about the very first day that I met my husband and ended it on our wedding day...it took me about 2 years to complete but it's a novel that we will both cherish.  I would take that notebook everywhere...Big G's ballet and swim lessons, anywhere that I had to sit and wait, because it was in those moments where my mind would drift home and I would become sad.   After that ended, it wasn't long before we started our adoption process and I have really enjoyed blogging about this experience.  Another project that I have is for my Big G... I have a notebook of her funny things that she has said.  I started it when she was 3 years old and still write in it.  I need to start doing this for Little G since her speech is developing.  When Big G is having a sad day or if I need a good laugh, I will pull that notebook out and we will laugh until we cry!  She is one hilarious little girl.  I encourage all of you to jot these funny little things down that your children do and say.  You won't regret it!

2.  This has become our scrapbook.  This is an excellent way to keep up with Griffin and Little G's progress.  They will be able to look back on this and see how far they've come. 

3.  Our families read it and they look forward to our daily posts.  It's the least we can do since we live so far away!

4.  We want to help future adopting families... If we can provide just a snippet of helpful information for a family, we're happy.

5.  We want to help families who have recently completed adoptions.  If they find themselves in similar situations, maybe some of our techniques can help.  (ex. food issues)

6.  This is one of our ways to share Christ's love.   I love to talk about Jesus.  I enjoy having a place that I can jot down what He shares with me.  His Words are not meant to be bottled up and kept in a secret place.  I want to shout them from the rooftops!

7.  For whatever reason you are here, we are here for you!  Thank you for reading and joining us.  We appreciate you and your encouragement! 

Well, Griffin has started brushing his hair with his toothbrush.  He's done.  LOL.  Better go!

Love and Hugs!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Zombies!!!!!

Chris's View-

I feel like one of the walking dead!

This week has been rough!  It started with a 0530 shift at work, where I got sent home at 1200, to come back to work an overnight shift at 1800... yeah, 6pm to 6am.  Not something I am used to at all.  I struggled through being insanely busy to make it home safely.  This week has been nothing but 12 hour shifts from 6pm to 6am.  It helps working this overnight shift, as I am off during the day so we can still get the kiddos to their appointments.  I guess I will be on this shift until further notice, with no real day off in sight right now.  I can't really talk about why I got switched to this overnight shift, but hopefully everything will work itself out real soon so I can get back to helping Maria with the kids.

It's not just me that has been a zombie this week though.  I can tell that it is wearing on Maria too.  She puts on a strong front for me, but a husband can tell.  It's tough in situations like this, as it's really like Maria becomes a single parent.  It was tough enough for her when it was her & Big G for my deployments.  Luckily, we have not had a deployment since Middle & Lil' G came around.  There have been TDY (Temporary Duty Yonder for ya'll non-military readers) for a week or two or three, but nothing that has been a surprise to us.  I think that's the biggest issue with this thing, there was no preparing.  It was at the drop of a hat, and I was gone overnight.  And to complicate matters, she knows that I am here, yet I am dead asleep so she can't really rely on me heavily.  Let me tell ya'll, I hit the jackpot when Maria said yes.  She didn't know life was going to be like this, yet she signed up to be a military spouse... honestly THE TOUGHEST JOB IN THE MILITARY!  Some may say it's the jobs where you get shot at, and yes, that is bound to be a tough job, but the military spouse has to manage a household, be mom & dad quite a lot, deal with the military machine (red tape, lack of support, etc), all while wondering if their loved one will return home at night.  I do not envy her.

So Maria has been busier than a one-legged man in a hiney-kicking contest, all while combating a migraine and with kiddos that seem to be getting a little sick (yeah, that's the last thing we need right now!).  I really admire her... take a moment and drop a line to a military spouse in your life, be it through email, Facebook, or whatever... and let them know you are thinking about them... it just might be the difference in a good day or a bad day.  Please pray for Maria, and our whole family. She needs some relief, and I need to try to keep my energy up so I don't fall asleep at work or on the drive to or from base. Pray for our sanity too... trust me, this stuff really wears on you!  Pray for God to give us patience when we are stressed out by all of this.  Lastly, pray for our kiddos, that they be exceptionally good on Maria during this time where she is forced to act like a single parent.

See ya'll later!

Maria's View-

Thanks, babe!  <3 

Yeah, it's been busy and crazy around here!  I'm not going to lie!  I purposefully scheduled appts for the little ones on Chris' days off but it still worked out.  We had audiology appts Thurs for Griffin and Friday for Little G.  They were scheduled at 9:00.  Thankfully, on Thursday, Little G slept in and woke up around 10:30, so Chris was able to sleep.  Later that day, I was able to put Griffin down for his nap and then took Little G to her medical speech appt at the hospital.  I had a friend pick Big G up at the bus stop, so all of that worked out.  Today was Little G's audiology appt and unfortunately Griffin didn't want to sleep in.  So Chris had to sleep with one eye open while he was cruising around in our baby proof living room.  Then I put the little ones down for their nap and picked Big G up from school for her dental appt.  Thankfully, all of the appts coordinated with their sleep/nap times and that helped so much! 

So how did the appts go?

Griffin's audiology- He did excellent!  This was the best pediatric audiologist ever.  He made the test fun and rewarding so it was a piece of cake.  He failed the test, though. <sigh>  One ear is completely blocked off by what he thinks must be fluid.  The other ear is a bit better but not by much.  He wants me to have him evaluated at the Pediatric clinic (Monday at 1:00...after the little ones have their occupational therapy appts from 9:00-11:00, gulp.)  Then in 6 weeks, we will followup with the audiologist for another hearing test.  He imagines that they will want to put tubes in his ears, but they may just try to treat with medication.  We shall see!

Little G's audiology- I totally expected no cooperation from the diva and boy was I wrong!  She was awesome!  Praise the Lord.  Seriously.  And she passed her hearing test!  No fluid!  We are so thankful for this.  We will follow up with her for another hearing test in 3 months to make sure her ears are without fluid since her tubes are completely out. 

Little G's medical speech- I'm impressed!  I think she is going to do very well in this environment.  She said more words during the evaluation that I have ever heard her say before.  And she learned a new word!  The therapist was asking her where her body parts were and she asked her to point to her back.  She couldn't do it.  The therapist pointed to Little G's back and then in a quiet little voice she said, "pak".  When she got home, she ran to her papa and said, "PAK!" and turned around so that he could see her back.  She is very proud of herself.  So the plan for her is that she will have 2-30 minute sessions per week.  She is currently speaking on a 12-15 month level.  I'm not too concerned after seeing how quickly and proudly she picked up the word "back".  The therapist seriously wants us to continue teaching both little ones sign language, especially since Little G is hurting herself out of frustration.  Plus, she stated that studies have shown that children who learn sign language learn to read sooner.  Interesting.  So I have purchased "Signing Times" and will plop their little hinies in their highchairs and park them in front of the TV for a short session every day.  Maybe I can sweep the floor or brush my hair. LOL.

As for me, these migraines are becoming much too frequent again.  I get trapped in these cycles that seem to go on endlessly and I'm so done with it.  I can't be my best and sweetest when I feel so horrible.  So I scheduled an appt for myself on Tuesday.  Hopefully I can get some relief. 

Oh, something cute today.  In an office down the hallway from the audiology/speech clinic, there was a stuffed doggie sitting in the doorway.  Little G saw this dog and wanted to play with it.  It was pretty large and was all dressed up in a hat, shoes, etc.  She loved it.  So for her reward for doing so well for her hearing test, we stopped by to pet the doggie.  A woman inside the office just loved Little G and invited her in.  She had a huge lollipop tree on her desk and she asked me if I would mind if she gave her one.  I was kind of hesitant because she's never had one before and I have a fear of hard candy with my little ones, but I went ahead and gave the go ahead.  Little G was so excited over this and gave the lady a hug.  She invited Little G to come by every time she has a good appt and she will give her another lollipop.  Hey, you have to get your grandmotherly love wherever you can when you are a military child!  Little G will not forget where that candy came from.  LOL.

Well, anyway, time to get the little ones up for dinner.  More tomorrow! 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

More Tomorrow...

Hey y'all... sorry for the lack of posts.  Migraine central here.  Today was Griffin's audiology appt/hearing test and the first day of Little G's medical speech.  Tomorrow is Little G's hearing test.  I will update y'all tomorrow on all of the results!  Please say a prayer for me.  This migraine needs to go so that I can get through Little G's hearing test.  She doesn't like those at all!

More tomorrow!  <<<HUG>>>

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tough Love

Maria's View-

Today has been a really great day.  My Little G has made me laugh so much!  She is such a little character and I love it!  First of all, she raided her big sissy's craft area and found the bottle of glue.  She brought it to me as if it were saline nose spray, with the little tip stuck up her nose.  She was so mad at me when I took it away from her and didn't allow her to squirt it up her nose.  LOL.  Later that day, she found one of Griffin's small plastic dinosaurs that he never plays with.  She insisted on feeding it the chicken fried rice that she refused to eat.   I hope the dinosaur liked it!

This morning, I had to give Griffin a little tough love.  It's time to help him to become a little more independent with his food and snacks.  I have a snack trap cup that I made him use today and he did not like it at all.  I really need him to use this cup because sometimes he needs a snack on the go and I can't push a stroller and feed goldfish to him at the same time.  As he struggled to use this cup, I realized that there was a greater reason.  I had no idea that he struggles to use both of his hands together to complete one task.  He had a VERY hard time figuring out that he can hold the cup with one hand and get the snack with the other.  Let me tell you, there were tears, huge ones.  I had to completely remove him from his high chair and take him to the living room to calm down.  I had to be firm with my encouragement and I praised him like there was no tomorrow when he succeeded.  After about an hour, he finished every Reece's Puff that was in that cup all on his own.  Let me tell you, he was so proud of himself.  He knew he accomplished something big, I could see it all over his face.  This is one very determined little boy and I'm one very determined mommy! 

These past few days, I have been realizing that if he could have been born to me...if I could have had him with me for the past three years, I believe he would be a very typical three year old!  I totally believe, by the progress that I have witnessed over the past 3 months, that he will catch up quickly...that he will be able to run and play with other children, that he will be able to speak.  Honestly, I think speech is probably our biggest hurdle.  As far as being able to run, that will come in time.  I have noticed that he is starting to bend his knees slightly when he walks, which is progress!  No more totally stiff legs.  He still shuffles around, but he is definitely getting more confident and gaining some speed!  Am I too hopeful?  Nope.  Could I be wrong?  Yep.  Does it matter if I am?  Nope.  He's my son and I expect great things.  God has brought him this far and God is greater than the orphanage he was in...greater than his delays.  I just can't wait to see the young man he becomes!

Today, he kissed my hand.  He is showing affection and I just love it!  After I got home from ballet practice with Big G, I went straight to him, got on his level, he came right over to me and wrapped his little arms around my neck...and as I sang to him, he danced back and forth.  I love dancing with my son. 

Chris is going to jump on here and let y'all know how his ophthalmology appt went!  I wish I could have seen his goofy little self.  He will explain.

Love and Hugs!

Chris's View-

So I took Griffin to his pediatric opthamologist appointment today... this kid cracks me up!

I won't get in to the fact that I arrived 25 minutes early and didn't get seen until an hour after my appointment time... oops!  Yeah, we sat there for what seemed like an eternity.  It was interesting to see the faces of the people.  One of the ladies behind the counter was smiling at him and "awww"ing him when he'd do something sweet or funny.  Then I watched as people would come in to the office.  I sat right behind a corner that is just inside the door.  If people didn't pay attention, they'd have to stop really fast to get around Griffin in his stroller.  Every time it would happen, he'd laugh!  It was cute.

We finally got called back to see the doctor.  He's an older gentleman who has been doing pediatric opthamology for like 18 years or something.  He was great with Griffin, even though Griffin wasn't as great with him... he doesn't like doctors really.  He tolerates them at best, and really fusses when they make him do things he doesn't want to do... wait a second... that sounds like he's a typical toddler!!!  LOL!

Anyway, the doctor needed to dilate his eyes for the exam, which meant we'd have to wait up to another hour for the dilation to complete.  He saw other patients in the meantime.  This is when Griffin cracked me up.  We went back to the same seat we were in before, except this time I placed Griffin where he couldn't get run over... hey, he already couldn't see well.  As the dilation chemicals began to effect his pupils, it was almost as if he was high on drugs or hallucinating.  He'd pull his hands up to his face and move them back and forth and just laugh hysterically!  Then he'd flip them from backside to palm and back and again, laugh like no one was looking!  Deep belly laughs too!  His eyes were swimming almost!  It was awesome seeing him like this.  No, I wasn't making fun of him, I was enjoying the experience with him!

We finally got called back again and the doctor did his checks.  He has an astigmatism but does not need glasses.  He only has a very slight, intermittent stabismus, or eye crossing, in one of his eyes.  We thought that it was more prevalent when he looked up and to the left, or up and to the right.  Come to find out, this is false... it's just that he has larger than normal epicanthic folds.  The epicanthic folds are what makes the eyes of an Asian person, well, look like the eyes of an Asian person.  Because of these folds being large, they cover part of the eye when they are looking at the outer limits of the eye sockets.  He showed me a slide show that was very much like Griffin on slide after slide.  These folds are very common in children with Down syndrome.  Also common, is the "gunk" that he sometimes gets in his eyes.  It has gotten so bad before that his eyes were sealed shut from the mucus "gluing" his eyelashes together.  He said this is caused by a weakness in the eyelids, coupled with poor flow in the tear ducts.  So, for his overall diagnosis:

He's great & healthy!  Yes, while he does have some eye problems, they are very minor and should not be problematic in the near term.  In fact, he said Griffin would probably chew on his glasses more than he'd wear them anyway.  So, no glasses, no patching the eye, and no surgery!  It's amazing how we were fully expecting to have to get some sort of surgery, but so far every doctor has said that he's great for his past.  God really took care of our son for us till we could get there!

See ya'll later!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Griffin's Shoes

What an awesome weekend!  My hubby and I celebrated our 11th year of marriage by going out to a dinner and movie.  We had a great time!  We discussed our plans on the idea of having more children.  I guess y'all will just have to wait and see!  :-)

Saturday morning, Big G had an opportunity to cheer!  However, no one on her team showed up, so she practiced some cartwheels! 

Sunday was fabulous.  The hubby had to work so I tackled church with my 3 children all on my own, surprisingly well!  Our church is tricky with little ones because of the stairs, no elevators, and extremely crowded hallways.  I managed to make it through the hallways with a single umbrella stroller for Griffin while Little G helped push.  Worked like a charm!  Big G started her New Believer's Class and should be baptised in November if she feels like it's the right time.  So happy for her!  While we were finishing up at church, Chris got off work a bit early and had our meals on the table at Chilis when we met up with him.  Afterwards, Big G started AWANA for her final year of Sparks.  She absolutely loves it.

Today was excellent!  Griffin and Little G had their first Occupational Therapy appt.  Griffin sat in the stroller like an angel while Little G had her hour of therapy.  This was kind of a "get to know who they are and what motivates them" kind of appt.  Basically, with Little G, he just played with her.  He won her over by fun toys and activities.  She really had a great time!  At the end of her appt, she actually held out her hand, like the diva she is, and had him kiss it.  Too funny!  He gave me a lot of insight and ideas on how to deal with her self-hurting tendencies and he seems to totally
understand who she is and why she does the things she does.  She was so much fun at this appt and I'm looking forward to taking her back!  She also imitated a lot of the OT's words that he was using on Griffin.  It was almost like she was trying to encourage Griffin along.  Love her!

Griffin sat quietly and observed everything for the solid hour.  When it was his turn, as soon as I unclipped his stroller strap, he toddled over to the first outlet that he could get to.  He sat down in front of it and was just staring at it.  The OT went over, sat next to him, and talked about the outlet.  Then redirected him...he went straight for a cabinet door and started opening and closing it, over and over.  The OT used that, and then redirected.  Once he felt that Griffin had warmed up to him, they had some fun!   They used the ramp like a slide, bounced on a trampoline, tickled, clapped, etc.  He just went on and on about how great Griffin was doing in the 3 months that we've had him out of the orphanage. 

His observations were that he has extremely weak hips and feet.  Also, his head is too large for his body and he is really having to work hard to stay upright.  His neck muscles will continue to get stronger until he can support it better.   He thinks that his body just wasn't able to develop properly due to the food that he had in the orphanage.  He would like to make sure his hips are OK, so we will suggest x-rays the next time we speak with his pediatrician.  He feels that Griffin is going to do extremely well because he is very motivated and determined.  He tries so hard to do everything.  OK, I'm about to have a momma moment that will probably make me cry, but here goes.  As the OT was doing things with him, I noticed that Griffin would glance over at me, as if to say, "Are you seeing this?! Look what I can do!  Are you proud of me?"  It was as if he was seeking my praise and when I would yell out, "GOOD!  BRAVO!", he would look over and smile.  It occurred to me in that moment that Griffin seriously tries to please us.  He tries hard.  He soaks everything in and strives to remember it, to focus.  The OT said that he would have never guessed that he was adopted because Griffin is just natural with me and that made this momma's day.

So the OT asked if he could take Griffin's shoes off so that he could see his feet.  Griffin protested when the OT took them off, which I expected because he does the same thing to me. He is all about his shoes!  Griffin's feet are extremely flat...so much that it appears that his ankles almost touch the ground.  He said that this will improve over time since he is actually using his feet now.  He walks 99% of the time.  So proud of him!  So when he was done, he started putting Griffin's socks back on and was happy to see that Griffin was helping him out by lifting his foot to tuck his toes into his socks, all on his own.  He praised him and then we got into the discussion about his shoes.  Griffin was so happy to get those shoes back on his feet and the OT asked me if he was able to wear shoes in his orphanage.  I explained that he only wore shoes when he was going outside, so to him, shoes mean FREEDOM.  That meaning kind of hit both of us at the same time.  I honestly had never thought about his love for shoes before but doesn't this make perfect sense?  I've been thinking about this all day.  I imagine that when the bucket of shoes was brought out, yes, they were in a bucket, he would get very excited!  I also imagine that he would get very heartbroken when the nanny would pass him by because he was a special needs child who didn't get to go outside every day like the other kids.  I imagine that every time that bucket was brought out, he was hopeful.  I can imagine the excitement in his little heart when those shoes were placed on his feet!  Mercy, I love this little boy.

Tomorrow, Griffin has his pediatric ophthalmology appt to evaluate his crossed eye.  There are a few options-surgery, patching, and glasses.  I think the first step would be glasses, then patching, then surgery but we will know more tomorrow!  Chris is taking him and I told him that he better not choose his glasses without me if he needs them!  LOL.  That's MY job. :-)

I'll keep y'all posted!

Love and Hugs!

Friday, September 7, 2012

My Heart is Happy

Maria's View-

So today has just been wonderful, even with a trip to the ER.  I'll explain in a bit.  :-)

Honestly, this morning, I was dreading Mother's Day Out.  Today was the first day for Little G, well, actually this is her 2nd year of MDO but this is the first day of the school year.  Last year didn't go so well.  She cried every single time and it didn't get much better.   However, today, she did excellent!  We pulled into the parking lot and my brain was already churning with thoughts on how I was going to wrangle both littles without a stroller.  Can't use the stroller because there are about 6 steps leading up to the only door that we have to use.  I got Griffin out of his car seat and took him around to Little G's car seat.  I stood him up in front of me (we have a mini-van) and pinned him against the seat with my body so that he couldn't take a nose dive out of the side door.  He started licking my shirt because it's all up in his face.  I got Little G out of her car seat and managed to hoist her out of her seat without kicking Griffin in the brains as she landed on my hip.  Then I turn Griffin around and put my arm around him, with his legs dangling, and made a mad dash up the stairs without dropping them.   I can only imagine how this will go in the ice and snow.  Next time, I am going to let Little G walk and just crawl up the stairs.  So we got inside, and I realized that I forgot the camera, and there's absolutely no going back.  I asked her if she was ready to go to school and she said, "uh uh". No.  Great. lol.  So I took her hand and she went easily.  Her class is actually in the same room as her Sunday School class so she knew where she was headed.  Griff even recognized the area because he started growling, not sure if that's good or bad.  He was probably just wanting to get back to the most awesome power cords he's ever played with!  But anyway, I pulled out my secret weapon, Newton Crisps in a baggie, asked her if she wanted cookies...she said, "yesssss", so I handed them over, she walked into the room and turned to close the baby gate all by herself.  Victory!  They told me that I had to sign her in on the clipboard hanging beside the door so I stood Griff up against the wall and tried to sign in, but her name wasn't on the sheet.  I saw that Griff was starting to inch off down the hallway but I noticed that he wasn't moving fast,..there's no room to add Little G's name on the sheet, so I tried to reach over to grab Griff and the pen that was attached to the wall snapped out of my hand and rocketed to the ceiling, causing me to drop the clipboard.  <sigh>  About this time, a friend saw me struggle and came over to grab Griffin for me.  I REALLY appreciated that.  My arms were still shaking from carrying the 2 little ones in a mad dash up those stairs!  LOL.  Spaghetti arms.  ANYWAY, I thanked her and as we were walking off, I realized that I forgot to take a picture with my phone.  Amy took one with her camera and sent it to me!  YAY!

After the mad drop off, Griff and I did a little shopping at the BX.  We stopped by the bathroom because his hair just wasn't working this morning, so I dampened it and reactivated his Axe Messy Look Paste, until I was satisfied.  He was one sharp looking dude!  We took our time and covered every part of the BX.  I haven't done this, ever.  He was so content and happy... no sounds... no fussiness... just pure awesomeness.  He would occasionally reach out to grab the sleeve of something but that's it.  He was content to chew on his Giraffe Meat.  We stopped by the shoe department and the only thing available in his size was a pair of black and white converse (which just happens to be exactly what I am wearing right, so no complaints from me!).  I tried them on his feet, and then I took them off, and he let out a growl.  Apparently, he wanted to keep them on.  At one point, I stopped and took this picture and this thought came to my mind:  When we started this adoption process, I honestly thought and expected that this adoption, that this little boy, was going to turn our world upside down.  That we were going to have our hands full and that we would just have to hunker down at home until we gained his love and trust...and even control.  So, So, So wrong.  I honestly just can't believe how he has just slipped so gently into our lives..how he just feels like he's always been with us.  He's so perfect for us.  He just loves his little life and we just love him to pieces.   God knows what He is doing, doesn't He?

Time to pick up my Little G.  Okay, so the memory of my spaghetti arms caused me to call up my hubs and ask if he could meet me at the church parking lot to watch Griff so that I could run in and get our diva.  Thankfully, he did... So when I made it to her classroom, there was another mom there, so I kind of stood off to the side, watched, and waited.  She was being snuggled in a teacher's arms so I knew that she had been crying.  Finally, her teacher was able to explain what happened.  She did extremely well and was happy all day long until her teacher was reading a book and diva wanted the book.  Teacher said "no", diva pitched a fit.  LOL.  So she had a little meltdown but they said that she had a fun day.  She also did a little craft.  They handed her over to me and she was so proud of her craft.  When we made it outside to 'Papa', she proudly held up her craft and pointed at all of the people that she so cutely pasted all around, and smiled.  It was then that I realized that she is truly communicating and has so much knowledge stored up in her little brain, just waiting to explode!  I've never seen her so proud of something, and that makes me so proud of her!  'Papa' asked her if she had fun?   She said, "uh uh" (no), asked if she made a pretty picture? "uh huh" (yes), asked if she went outside to play? "uh huh" (yes), and asked her if she wanted to go back?  she said, "uh uh" (no). LOL.  Well, I've got news for her... she's going back!  I've already noticed progress!

So we got home and had lunch.  Little G finished first and was signing like crazy "all done".  So I put her down to run around and play.  She ran right into the corner of the craft table with her cheek bone, cutting her right beneath her eye.  So off to the ER we went.  Chris was able to meet me there and a friend in our village got my Big G off the bus.  So we waited about an hour before we were triaged.  By waiting all that time, Chris ended up having to go back to work before the doctor could see her.  The doctor came out to the waiting room to see how bad it was and then told the tech which room to put us in.  The kids were starting to get restless so I fed Griffin raisins and Little G had some gummy snacks.  The doctor was finally able to come in and get started with my Little G.  We were all expecting this to be very difficult so the doctor brought in 2 more men to help hold her down.  I just straight up told her that the doctor needed to clean her boo-boo and that his medicine would make it all better.  She said, "uh huh".  (what?!?)  I told her that it may hurt just a little bit but that it would be all better soon.  She said, "ah queen" (all clean).  I told her that she needed to lay down on the table and be really still and she did.  She didn't budge the whole time the doctor was cleaning her boo-boo.  She did start crying but she didn't move.  They were so surprised and so was I!  I was shocked actually.  Communication, obedience, and understanding!  PROGRESS!  I honestly just want to cry and shout from the roof tops!  Today was communication explosion with my Little G.  I was so amazed and proud of my little girl. 

Afterwards, the tech gave the littles a Popsicle.  Little G gobbled hers down and Griffin made the most horrible faces with his.  It was just too cold!  He doesn't do well with cold things so I have to heat everything up for him... well, that didn't stop him from trying.  He signed 'more' for about 4 bites and he called it quits.  Bless his heart.  We will have him loving Popsicles in no time! 

Well, we made it home as Big G wrapped up her playtime at the park.  I put the littles down for a nap and did my best to put a dent in some of the housework but didn't have much success.  We had brinner and it was sooooo good.  (breakfast+dinner=brinner)  But that's about it!  A long, full, happy day, despite our trip to the ER.  But even with that trip to the ER, my littles were just amazing.

I'm one very happy momma!  <3

Love and Hugs

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Things I Had That My Kids Won't

Chris's View:

I got a little nostalgic today and started thinking about all the things I had as a child that my kids will never have:

Each year since 1998, Beloit College has produced what they call the Mindset List.  This list is a great tool for professors, as well as many psychologist/sociologist types, as it shows how children have grown up.  Developed mainly for the college professors, this list was designed so the professor could better relate to the incoming class of freshmen.  For example, what good is it to make a reference to an 8-Track when the entire class has NEVER known what an 8-Track was... and yes, I remember my mom rocking a Kenny Rogers 8-Track like it was Jason Derulo!

I have read this list pretty regularly (oh yeah, you can find it HERE) and it has actually helped me a military supervisor to better relate to my kids new troops.  Yes, many times I am a parent, a babysitter (99% of the time is seems like), a teacher, a confidant, and a friend, so yes, this list has helped out... if nothing else, it has helped me make fun of how young some of these kids really are!  One of the things I was dreading the most in the military, was when an Airman came into the unit that I was old enough to be their father.  Well, I ran into my first on last year.  Her mom & dad are 35 years old.  I don't know weather to be proud that I have made it this far, or scared for our nation, that is coming time to turn things over to our children.  But back to the topic, most people I have shown this to (read most of the old, crusty NCO's like me that I have shown this to) have been pretty amazed at the things our new Airmen have never been exposed to.  That got me thinking about some of the things my kids will never know of.

- Lady Gaga will be "oldies" by then... and THAT is scary!  Especially since generations are defined by many things, music being a pretty big one.

- Digital cameras very well could be a thing of the past.  Maybe they'll have neural imprint imagers or something.

- While we thought they would be when we were kids, cars should be flying by then.

When is this far off year I am talking about?  Who knows.  It is very possible that all of this could be just around the corner.  I mean, we have cars that are driving themselves... at least they parallel park themselves, and that is pretty awesome if you stink at parallel parking like I do!  LOL!  I am the reason they are thinking about bringing back cast iron bumpers for cars!

Anyway, the Midset list for this year was pretty impressive.  Here are some highlights:

- They have never known life without the ability to steal their term paper content from the world wide web.  Yes, it doesn't say this, but you all know they did!




- Most do not know the significance of the Kennedy family, other than the fact that could probably find a copy of John Jr.'s magazine at a local antique store.

- Music on demand has always been there for them, and they flaunted their high dollar Apple product when many adults were struggling through college.  And they wonder why we think they are spoiled!

- They have never really lived in the real world... unless it's a social experiment where they put a bunch of different people in a house and tell them to act as they normally would (oh yeah, but they put it all on TV & edit it for dramatic effect, so you know everyone will act 100% normal!)

- This one is painful... they have never known a tan M&M, unless they bought it online from the company as a special order!  How sad is this?!?!  I wonder if they know that the green ones help you hit a home run?

And last but not least:

- The majority of the history they learn is from the History Channel, not from a textbook , a set of encyclopedias or from a teacher.  This is also sad on the education system in 'Merica!

I saved that last one for last.  Listen ya'll, while we as parents place an enormous amount of responsibility of teaching our children on the educators in the public & private schools across the country, don't forget that it is OUR responsibility to train our children.  In fact, Proverbs 22:6 says:
"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." (NIV 1984).
 
While this obviously goes for religious training, morals & values, I interpret it as being for all things.  We are entrusted as parents, and part of that trust is to make sure that our children are prepared to go out in to the world, being doctors, and lawyers, and truckers, and janitors.  There is no job that is not needed.  We need to make sure that our children are prepared to be as competitive as they possibly can when it is their time to enter the workforce.  It doesn't matter your race, religion, ethnicity, sex, or any other demographic... we MUST not fail our children.

I hope ya'll take a few minutes to check out the Mindset Lists.  It's pretty fun to see what they thought of you when you graduated High School... man, I sure am glad they don't have one for my year!  LOL!  That'd be scary!

See ya'll later!