Monday, October 29, 2012

So What Are The Kids Up To?

These past 2 weeks have been a blur.  Chris is still in the hospital but they are hoping to send him home tomorrow.  It's been great having my mom here and the kids are really enjoying having all of that Mawmaw lovin'.  I have had to depend on so many people these past 2 weeks to help me out with my children and I'm so grateful to everyone who offered to help and those who actually did have to help.  Once Chris has recovered enough to travel, they will be sending him to San Antonio for a couple of weeks to work on his medical military status, so I will be back at it again.

Since I've had so many people having to help out, Griffin and Little G have both learned different things from different people.  Little G has started talking more!  It's amazing, actually.  My friend, Lura, did wonders with her.  She actually says please after pretty much everything she says!  "cu peas" (cup, please), "ep peas" (help, please).  I love it!  Oh!  And her birthday was on the 19th and I bought her some cupcakes.  She kept  pointing to the kitchen one morning during breakfast and saying "quaks!".  I kept looking for a duck but then discovered that "quaks" are cupcakes.  haha.  So cute!

Big G has been loving all of this special attention!  She has enjoyed having all of these "kid sitters".  Our biggest fiasco was trying to create her "Save the Literary Pumpkin".  Let me tell you, that thing was a thorn in my side!  haha.  That was suppose to be Chris' project with her but things just didn't go that way.  So to make a long story short, the first pumpkin rotted, I used the wrong kind of paint on the second pumpkin, and actually bought the third pumpkin minutes before the commissary closed and got it decorated the night before it was due.  Hello Kitty Fun Fall Day.  DONE-ZO! little toddler Griffin.  He is really finding himself and it's pretty amazing to watch.  I seriously have to relearn who he is on a weekly basis, it seems.  For the past 2 days, he has refused to sign "more" for food.  I have this little boy pegged, though.  I spoke with his OT and pediatrician today about this and they both suggested the same things that I have already been doing.  He seems to be getting comfortable with food, which is what we have been praying for!  However, he is becoming so comfortable that he just lounges back and wants it shoveled in, and sometimes he doesn't even care if he eats at all!  He's come along way!  BUT I don't want to lose this communication with him, I cling to every bit of communication that he gives me!   Griffin refused to sign for his food this morning and he seemed very distracted.  I gave him every opportunity in the world to show interest, but he didn't.  Finally, I just removed the food all together and called breakfast over.  The OT said that he needs to be fully engaged when meal time is happening.  No leaning over the side of his highchair, no covering up his face (he's just started this lately), no playing with his hands.  If he's not engaged, then I just need to stop feeding him and wait for a reaction.  What we are hoping for is some antsy-ness, like "hey!  What about me!"  So we are just going to keep learning and keep moving forward!  A lot of it is boredom, too.  I think he's simply tired of signing "more" for food.  I'm going to start showing him  specific signs for food to mix things up a bit and I have started helping him with his spoon.  He is loving it!  For 2 meals, I have taught him to pick his spoon up (I believe that Little G and Griffin are both left handed!) and hand over hand I will help him scoop the food up, get it to his mouth, and then put his spoon down.  I was able to keep the plate of food directly in front of him without him diving into it.  Pretty amazing!  AND, I guess because I mixed things up a bit, he signed "more" all on his own before lifting his spoon.

Today, he signed "more" when we were rolling a ball to each other in OT.  He has finally realized that he can use that word for more than just food!  He signed "more" when we walked into the library today.  He also pitched a fit when he realized that I was only running in to pick up a library book that was on hold for me!  haha.  He signed "more" when I had to take away a toy when I was getting him out of his car seat!  So this morning, I thought he was giving up on that sign, but by the end of the day, he used it a lot!  Very proud of him!

Griffin had a pediatric appt today for a follow up on the fluid in his ears.  He still has fluid, even with his allergy medicine so we are waiting on a referral to ENT for ear tubes.  Also, Griffin has been waking up for HOURS at night and just partying all by himself in his crib.  Usually from midnight to 3:00, he will wake up, laugh, squeal, play, beat his heels on the crib rails, jump, flop around, you name it.  SO.LOUD.  I have been giving him melatonin when he wakes up but the doctor suggested that I give it to him before he goes to bed.  However, it's not going to keep him asleep, which is the problem that we are having.  He falls asleep just fine.  I don't know.  Last night, I got up, gave him some melatonin, stuffed cotton in my ears (it worked!), and went back to bed!   Yeah, go ahead and laugh.  I know you want to!  (the doctor did. lol)

So it seems that Chris may get to come home tomorrow to continue recovering.  It's not over yet, but he's definitely improving!  They are trying him out on oral antibiotics overnight to make sure his elbow doesn't flare back up without his IV antibiotics.  The PICC line is still in place, just in case.  Thank you so much for the prayers!  So sorry that my posts have been so short but I have been all over the place and crazy busy (and worried).

More soon!

Love and Hugs!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Another Day at the Hospital...

2 nights ago, Chris' pain spiked back up to a 9 all of a sudden.  They ended up having to call a doctor in around 11:00pm since the pain meds weren't giving him any relief.  The orthopedic doc ordered a CT of his elbow to see if there were any changes.  Low and behold, the order did not get put in correctly so they did a CT on his wrist and not his elbow. I think they will be doing his elbow today.

The doctor is putting him on NPO orders after midnight just in case the surgical team will take him to surgery to drain some fluid off of his elbow.  If they don't take him to the surgery, then the doctor is bouncing around the idea of putting him on oral antibiotics and sending him home.  I believe his pain level is around an 8 right now so I don't understand why it would be a good idea to send him home with little improvement on the pain... but who knows.  I'm not a doctor.

All is well on the home front.  It's great having my mom here.  Don't know what I'd do without her!

Sorry for the short posts!  More soon!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Slowly but Surely-An Update on Chris

So sorry for the short posts.  I am practically having to prop my eye lids open by the time I'm about to sit down and blog.  I'm just copying and pasting my FB status tonight:

Update on Chris- He seems to be on the road to recovery! The redness has gone down a lot along with some of the swelling in his hand and shoulder. His elbow has not improved yet. The muscle in his forearm is solid and there's still a lot of swelling there. They are definitely keeping him in the hospital on IV antibiotics throughout the weekend and will do an MRI again on Monday. They fear that it's trying to abscess. This is definitely going to be a slow process of recovery but he's getting there! He ran some fever last night but his appetite is back, thank goodness. Please keep him in your prayers! He's getting there.

Thanks, y'all!  Your prayers are GREATLY appreciated.  I love this man so much and I would love for him to have complete healing from the 2 years of joint paint and for this flare up that's landed him in the hospital.  He will do anything for anybody and it just breaks my heart that he has to go through this.

Love and Hugs!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Update on Chris- Progress

First of all, thank you for taking the time to pray for my husband!  We greatly appreciate every single one and God is definitely hearing them!!  Last night, I left him in great pain and thinking that we were going to have to insist on sending him back to the States.  However, he made some improvement overnight!

Last night, they gave him some Morphine for the first time, one step lower than the initial pain medicine they had him on.  There has yet to be a pain medicine that has helped with his level of pain.  However, this morning, his pain was around an 8 instead of a 9.  Not sure if the pain meds have knocked it down a notch or if he is recovering.

The redness has shrunk and is mostly concentrated around his elbow area, extending half way up and down his arm.  He had a reduction of redness of about 2 inches from the top and bottom on his arm.  Huge difference.  However, the swelling is still the same.

They took him down to ultrasound and ruled out a blood clot, just in case.

The medical board that they held for him here last night concluded that they were on the right track.  However, they still are no closer to finding the cause to this.  Of course, we have our hunches, but well, you know how that goes.

I think it's safe to say that a person who is trying to regain their appetite and has a very sensitive stomach will not want fish on the lunch tray.  Wouldn't you agree?  I mean, the smell alone makes my stomach turn... and yet, they keep bringing it.  I went to BK here in the hospital and got him a chicken sandwich and he kept it down, thankfully.

The little ones are so glad to see their Mawmaw!!!  Little G started jumping up and down until she landed on her bottom.  When my mom finally got to her, she closed her eyes and wouldn't even look at her!  LOL.  She is such a diva.  Griffin was extremely intrigued by Mawmaw.  When she sat down on the couch, he got just as close as he could and then cupped his hands and started banging his head into his cupped hands on top of my mom (a sign that he's very happy!)  Then he sat in her lap and just stared up at her...and then snatched her glasses off of her face!  LOL.  Stinker.  Big G was crazy excited to see her.  It has been the longest for her (since Christmas), so she is definitely ready for some Mawmaw lovin'.  Around 4:00, I decided to take the little ones to my friend's house so that my mom and Gracie could hang out, and my mom could get some rest.  I hung out with Chris until about 8:30, picked up the kids, and then put everyone to bed.  It's so glad to have my mom with me!

Tonight, I will be taking Gracie to her school harvest festival.  She's so excited!

Anyway, thank you again for the prayers!  We so want to bust Chris out of this place so that he can finish recovering at home!  That would just be awesome.

Love and Hugs!!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Day 7-Chris update

<sigh> 2 of Chris' internal medicine doctors said that they do not feel that Chris is improving. The redness has stopped subsiding and it appears to have hit a plateau. No reduction in swelling since day one. Extreme pain. The doctor is going to try to get all of the doctors together with the Chief of Medicine to try to brainstorm and figure this out. The MRI results showed a bad infection and they tossed around the idea of necrotizing fasciitis but decided against that. The doc said that he should have already responded fully to the antibiotics by now since he's had the strongest ones. PICC line is in place. Praying for a solid diagnosis and a plan of action. My mom made it and had a great flight but she's jet lagged. She got here just in time, honestly.

Please continue to pray!  He's not out of the woods yet.  

Love and Hugs!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day 6-Update on Chris

Hey y'all!  My awesome friend, Lura, came over at 0600 this morning so that I could hopefully meet the team of doctors as they did their rounds.  Today, his white blood cell count is looking better, the redness is reducing, but the swelling and pain are still full force.  With the reduction of the redness, the doc said that he feels that his pain level should reduce as well.  They are repeating his CT scan to look for a deeper development.  Then they will take him straight in for his PICC line placement.

I got to speak with the team of doctors.  They are still baffled.  Chris' commander was by my side so it was nice to have his support.  He also spoke with the doctors after I was done.  We are tremendously blessed by all of the supportive people in his squadron.  They are truly awesome.

So it's looking like he will have at least a few more days on IV antibiotics unless a miracle occurs.  His arm has still doubled in size, BUT it is looking better.  Now, if we could just get that pain under control!

Want a dude update????

We had OT yesterday for the little ones.  I think I have mentioned this before, but Griffin loves the hammock style swing that hangs from the ceiling.  It is usually tied up out of the way, but the second that Thorston untied it, Griffin made his way over and tried to get in it all by himself.  I LOVE to watch him in that swing.  He can push off, lift his feet, and fly!  He has started twisting his body so that he can change direction and he reminds me of a graceful little fish changing directions in the water.  Graceful and peaceful.  Love it.  Thorston said that he can tell a lot about a child by how they react in that swing.  Little G won't even go near it, which indicates fear, lack of trust, and maybe even stubbornness.  Griffin's willingness to dive in and lift his feet off the ground shows that he is willing to trust easily.  I can totally recognize those things in my children.  Interesting, huh?  He said that since Griffin is enjoying that swing so much, that we can actually put him in it and let him lay there while he does activities on the floor with his hands.  It may keep him more focused.

Also, Griffin can climb up on the rung of a ladder all by himself now!  Thorston has been teaching him to put his hand and foot up on the bars.  Yesterday, Thorston put Griffin's hand on the bar and he immediately lifted his own foot to climb up.  That's progress!  He was able to pull both feet up but didn't have the strength to keep going.  We are working on that.

OH!  My mom is on her way to Germany to help me out!  I am so very thankful that she is coming.  I need her so badly and I can hardly wait to see her!  She is so terribly fearful of flying but she is putting that aside so that she can be with me.  I love her so much!

But anyway, please continue to pray for complete healing for my husband.  Also, please pray for my mother's travels.

More soon!

UPDATE-  Failed attempt at a PICC line at 11:00... will repeat it this evening.   Also,  we are still waiting for the CT scan.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Still Not Out Of The Woods Yet...

So sorry for the lack of updates.  I am stretched thin.  I am so thankful for everyone who is stepping up to help me.  They are keeping me sane, for sure.

Actually, my husband texted me this morning, a very short text saying that he was feeling horrible.  Being that he didn't answer any of my other questions, I know that he is not well at all.  It will be another 5 hours before I can get there to see him today.  So basically, I can only update you on yesterday.

My observation was that the redness in his arm was less "angry".  Not as angry red but still terribly hot, swollen, and still slightly spreading.  It is from his knuckles all the way up to his shoulder.  His arm is still twice the size that it should be.

They have some speculations but nothing definite.  At this point, they should have a completed culture every day since they have been doing new cultures every day.  The first set came back normal but they are thinking that it was too early in the game for anything to grow.  Hoping and praying for some answers today.

Pain meds are making his pain level in his arm a "9"...and his headaches a "5".  He is one very sick man.  Pain meds aren't doing anything to help his pain in his arm but seems to be keeping his headaches at a level where he can focus and help himself a bit.   He is on 4 IV antibiotics and they are discussing putting a PICC line in if they don't feel that they can switch him to oral antibiotics soon.  His veins can't handle the strength of the antibiotics.

Please keep him in your prayers and hopefully I can post another update tonight!

Thank you!

Friday, October 19, 2012

An Update on Chris

Oh my.  I'm just not even sure how to say this.  Chris is bad off right now.  Very bad.  I was unable to see him until almost 5 yesterday and when I got there, he was writhing in pain, unable to talk, temp hanging out around 100-101 with meds on board.  The swelling and inflammation in his arm was horrendous.  What started out as only being directly on his elbow has moved all the way down to his wrist and up to his shoulder.  His arm is twice the size that it should be.  The strong antibiotic that he was on was not working, so they added another strong one.  So he's on 2 now.

His migraine was so bad that he was losing control of his mind, starting to panic.  They had only been giving him tylenol for that.  He was refusing pain meds for his ARM because it wasn't doing anything for that pain.  They took that to mean that he was refusing pain meds for everything.  He was to the point that he couldn't even talk to ask for anything more than that.  I took over at that point and asked for oral pain meds but they didn't work.  45 minutes later, he was even worse, so the nurse gave him muscle relaxers and a shot of pain meds and it took his headache away within 5 minutes.   He was finally able to rest.

I need to be there with him 24/7 and I can't be... and that breaks my heart.  My mother told me that she would come out to help with the kids but I don't think she should come until I know more about what needs to be done.  I don't want her to have to do that, but it may be best.  Last minute flights will be crazy expensive.

This is serious and I'm getting scared.  I have a couple of friends who are experienced in this area and are asking questions and have forwarded my pictures to doctors/nurses that they know who are experienced in rheumatology.  I'm getting  a lot of great insight and great questions to ask, so I'm feeling more prepared.  It's a shame that I have to take matters into my own hands to try to diagnose my husband.  These joint inflammations have been going on for 2 years, but nothing to this extent.  I'm so done with him having to hurt from lack of a proper diagnosis.

I'm not sure what the next step is if they can't get the inflammation and infection under control.  They may take him to surgery to irrigate it, I think.  (They told Chris this yesterday while he was in too much pain to focus.  The nurse didn't seem to know anything about it.)

I have an army of prayer warriors before the Throne of God on Chris' behalf.  Please pray.  Chris needs it desperately.  I have faith that God has a plan.  Chris may have to suffer for awhile, but maybe, hopefully, this will lead to a diagnosis and a treatment plan that will prevent this from ever happening again.

Thank you!

UPDATE-  Surgical team came by to evaluate him and they are unable to do an irrigation.  Not really sure why yet.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Prayers Needed for my Hubby

Chris has been admitted to the hospital with a joint infection in his elbow.  Fever, chills, nausea, extreme swelling in his arm, etc.  He is absolutely miserable with no help from the pain medicine so he is refusing the pain meds now.  He is on an antibiotic IV and hopefully that will kick in quickly.

Thankfully, I have had friends to step up and help me out.  I was able to join him around 2 this afternoon, once my friend was able to get off work to babysit.  I have another friend who is delivering groceries to me tonight.

Chris went to the ER around 0400 with a temp of 103.  We are very thankful that they are doing a lot of tests to see if something presents itself, finally.  They drew fluid off of his elbow and hopefully we will get those results soon.   He is suppose to go to San Antonio next week to present his case for full medical retirement.

I must admit that I got queasy when I saw him like this.  Breaks my heart.

They are going to keep him overnight for sure.

I'll keep y'all updated!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

WOAH! Slow Down, Momma!

This is going to be short and sweet but thought I would just jot this down really quick.  I had to remind myself the other day that skills are just going to take time!  I have been working with Griffin to sign "all done" every time he needs to be removed from something... the highchair, crib, stroller, etc.  He knows the sign but  refuses to do it.  It got to the point where I was standing at his crib for 5-10 minutes asking, "all done?" and then show him the sign.  "All done?!?!?"  show him the sign.  "ALL DONE?"  Show him the sign with his own hands and then finally he may do it.  So I am just taking a step back and I'll give him 30 seconds or so to sign.  If he doesn't, I'll use his hands to do it, and then move on.

When I got him out of the crib from nap time today, his jeans were laying on the floor.  I guess all of this night time practice before bath is paying off!  They were buttoned so he had to work pretty hard to get those jeans down.

Speech therapy went well today for both of the little ones.  Little G is a little parrot and doing very well with repeating single words.  She won't say more than one word at a time, even if it's the same word, like "up, up, up!"  So we are going to work on putting 2 words together.

Griffin did well with copying some sounds that the therapist was making.  She learned that he must be trapped in a chair or else he will slowly shuffle all around the room.  We are going to practice "I want" or "my turn" by helping him pat his chest.  Not the correct sign but it will work better for him, we think.  She also wants to focus on making items have purpose.  He is content to sit, hold, and stare at the play coins that go into the piggy bank, but we are trying to work on helping him to actually play.  In speech.  haha.  I guess it all goes hand in hand.  :-)

Anyway, enough!  Dude wants his mandarin oranges!

Love and Hugs!

Monday, October 15, 2012

My 2 Sick Little Babies

So both of my little ones have horrible colds...stuffiness, grumpiness, snot everywhere.  (just keepin' it real).

Yesterday, Chris woke up with a headache and since the little ones weren't feeling well, he decided to just stay home with them so that I could take Big G to church and then to AWANA.  Great plan, worked out well.  Griffin took 3 naps while we were away, proving that he was feeling horrible.  He fights sleep like no body's business.  Actually, when I got home, he was passed out in the middle of the living room.  Little G was doing well but I could tell she wasn't her normal self.

At dinner, he was struggling just to breathe while eating.  He just wasn't in the mood and actually pushed food away.  He would randomly start crying as Chris was feeding him and I would get up and go to him, stroke his hair, give him kisses, tell him he was ok, etc.  When he would calm, I would go back to my seat and help Little G.  When she was done, I went and got the soft hair brush and brushed his hair for about 10 minutes.  He just loved it.  I know when I have headaches, it feels so good to have my hair brushed, so I figured it was worth a shot.  Every time I would stop, he would whimper.   I was going above and beyond to let him know that I'm here to comfort him.

Later that evening, Chris was getting him ready for bed and he was on the changing table.  I stopped by and gave him a kiss on his forehead as Chris brushed his teeth.  I walked to the kitchen and heard him let out a cry.  I figured that Chris had taken his tooth brush away.  Nope, he cried out when I left him!  He cried out for me!  That's a first and made this momma feel pretty good!

He didn't sleep well last night.  I gave him some pain reliever before bedtime and I heard him babbling probably from 3:00-6:00AM.  He wasn't crying so I let him talk it out...not uncommon for him to do this at all.  (This is something I plan on addressing the next time he has a doctor's appt.)  Naturally, he fell back to sleep about 30 minutes before we had to wake him up.  Both of the little ones were suppose to have OT this morning but they were just too stuffy to go.  After calling to cancel, I got an email from their therapist saying that he was going to be out of the office because he was sick, so it worked out.  Hopefully everyone will get better before next Monday!

So Chris still has some errands that he has to run with Griffin.  He MUST have a hair cut because we are having family portraits done next Sunday and this is the only day it can get done, along with a couple of other things.  Should be a decent father/son day as long as dude feels ok.   No fever, so that's a good thing.

Anyway, that's about all for now!  Just chuggin' along.  Hope y'all have a great Monday!

Love and Hugs!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Our Compassion Girl

For the past 10 years, we have been supporting a little girl from Ecuador through Compassion International and it has been a joy for us to watch her grow up.  She is so faithful in writing letters to us and is always so thankful.  Her name is Erika and she is a beautiful, young teenager now, but was just a toddler when we first started supporting her.  She wrote us a letter the other day, addressing Griffin.  She asks, "What was the reason you had for adopting your kid?  Have you ever thought about coming to Ecuador?"  When Chris read that out loud, we both cracked up.  It's almost like she was asking us to come adopt her!  We would, in a heartbeat, but she has parents.  LOL.  I would absolutely love to meet her one day, Lord willing.  We plan to support her as long as she needs it, probably until she turns 18.  I encourage all of you to support a child like this.  It is truly a blessing to watch them grow up and the letters and pictures that you will receive from them are just awesome.

Today has been a crazy day.  Little G has a mild cold going on right now and that doesn't make for a pleasant household.  Griffin has been a bit on the grumpy side, so it wouldn't surprise me if he was catching whatever she has.  I ended up putting them both down for naps, due to grumpiness, by 10:30.  Then our landlord came over, ringing our doorbell a ridiculous amount of times.  Drives me nuts.  I love them but it seems that they are over at our house every other day, and always during nap time.  I rushed down the stairs to say, "Baby sleeps!" (they all speak German) and he could sense my frustration because the bell woke Griffin up.  He said, "OHHH!" and motioned that he would be quiet, with the other 2 men he was bringing into my home.  They had to measure the balcony, of all things.   So I directed them up the stairs and as I turned, I tripped, stumbling up a couple of steps.  Totally ruined my moment.  LOL.  I know one thing for sure, rental properties and Maria do not mix.  I need my own home.

Short and sweet, I know.  Little G is sounding her siren.

Have a great Saturday!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Mommy's Nose

Hi y'all!  Sorry, I feel like a slacker lately.  The truth is that I have been exhausted in the evenings!  I can't even stay awake to watch an episode of Honey Boo Boo or read a chapter in my book.  I am guilty of drinking my fake coffee just so that I can stay up and read... Lately, I've been to tired to even heat the water in the microwave.  Why am I so tired?  I have no idea.  Maybe it's because the kids are running me ragged!  LOL.

Today was another PreK evaluation for my Griffy-pooh.  This eval was more about asking me questions about his cognitive level.  Of course, Griffin didn't do anything that I asked him to do.  He was too busy observing the new surroundings because he is so curious!  She took my word for everything that he can do and then the conversation drifted to his history and life in the orphanage.  People are just so intrigued by his history and his plight to overcome it.  I believe we spoke longer on his orphanage life than the time she took to evaluate him.  Then the speech therapist wanted to evaluate Griffin again.  She shadowed him last Friday in the classroom and she was shocked at how much he has improved from last week!  Music to my ears.

After it was over, he was given a sticker.  He didn't want anything to do with it until I stuck it on his nose.  Then he was all about it and had a great time with his little prize.  We had to sit in the waiting room a bit and I asked him to put it on my nose.  Eventually, to my surprise, he took it off of his nose and did his best to stick it to mine!  Maybe, just maybe, he's gaining the concept of "mommy".  Oh how I hope so!

While all of this was taking place, Little G was at Mother's Day Out.  She had a great time, once again!  She has started melting down the last 30 minutes of class and I wonder if this is becoming the norm for her.  I know that she has fun because she willingly goes into class and seems excited once she's in there.

Yesterday, Big G got the Student of the Month award for Citizenship.  So proud of her!  She is such a sweet, outgoing girl.  She has been having some issues on the school bus...three children have been bullying her.  I emailed the principal and she took care of the situation immediately.  Makes this momma feel better and she is back to her happy little self.  Our school seems to take bullying very seriously and I really appreciate that.

I've been working on some new areas with Griffin.  I have started asking him to undress himself for bath time.  He's doing really well!  I will usually put Little G in the tub and let her get her playtime in and then I will stand Griffin up on the mat beside the tub and slowly go through the process of removing his clothing with his help.  Sometimes it can take 20 minutes but he is doing it, he's very determined, and he doesn't see to mind at all.  Today he did very well.  I held his shirt up just high enough for him to realize that it needed to be pulled off or pulled down.  He pulled his arms out of the sleeves and then pushed it over his head.  For his jeans, I unbuttoned them and pulled them down to his knees, sat him on the mat and he pushed them off all by himself!

I have come to realize that this little boy is very wise beyond his years.  He knows so much and is just trapped inside his little body, just waiting to explode!  He has a knowledge of so many things... I just can't wait for him to break through the rest of this orphanage fog.

But anyway, thank you for hanging in there with us!

Love and Hugs!!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My Little Insomniac

Okay... So in the orphanage, the nanny motioned to us that Griffin loves his sleep.  Maybe he loved his sleep in the orphanage because he didn't have much going on around there.  Since coming home to us, I honestly don't think he is getting a full night's rest or even taking much of a nap during the day.  Last night, he was wide awake at 3:30 AM, just a chattering away...laughing...having a good old time!  I put him down for a nap after lunch today and he didn't sleep much, if any at all.  Then when about 5:00 PM rolled around, he became grumpy and tried to shut down for sleep.  He kept making b-lines to his box so that he could hide and sleep. LOL.  No sir!  We kept him up until 7:00 and put him to bed.  We shall see if he sleeps better tonight!  I really hope so!

So today was Griffin's second session of speech.  I chose to leave him with the therapist and took Little G down to the waiting room because she always wants to participate a little too much... Her session wasn't until after his. So when they were done, the therapist said that she got him to say "BOOM!" when he was hitting the drum with the stick.  Well, I have a drum and stick and he didn't want to say it for me but I'm crazy excited to hear this sound from him!  Little G is starting to say some phrases, "I know.", "I do it", "I got it".  Very proud of her.  She has made some very fast progress!

Anyway, this momma is zonked.  I can barely hold my eyes open and it's only 9:00.

More later!

Love and Hugs!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

4 Month Summary

Friday, I will be taking Griffin for his cognitive and speech evaluation for PreK enrollment.  I sat down and wrote all of his accomplishments so that I can hand it over to them, ensuring that I would not forget to tell them anything.  Thought I would share it with y'all tonight!

Griffin has been out of the orphanage for 4 months and a few days.

Griffin has:
-Completely learned to walk from scratch.  Learned to do 2 steps during our month with him in the orphanage.  He walks 99% of the time.

-Can identify facial features (may mix some up)-eyes, nose, mouth, ears, hair, belly, piggies (toes)

-Signs independently-more, please, milk, mama(not sure if he has made the connection on mama yet)
-Signs with assistance-bus, all done, banana

-Waves 'bye-bye'

-Plays with toys:
  -Can assemble a wooden puzzle with large pieces with assistance (needs help wiggling them into place).
  -Can use the toy gumball machine appropriately.  Puts the ball in, presses lever, ball comes out, giggles, repeat.
  -Can put toy coins into slot.
  -Pushes bus.
  -Rolls ball.
  -Plays with small dinosaurs by walking them around.
  -Plays toy instruments like tambourine and xylophone .

-Finger-play:  (initiates these songs on his own with hand motions)
  -Itsy Bitsy Spider
  -Twinkle Little Star
  -Rock the Griffin-a made up song, we push and pull like Row Your Boat.
  -Griffity Dude-ka-another made up song to the tune of Zippity Doo-day, claps and waves hands with the beat.
  -This Little Piggy

-Knows how to hold feet up for socks and shoes and will attempt to put his feet into them on his own if I hold them open.

-Pushes arms through sleeves.

-Brushes teeth and hair.

-Knows how to do "soft touches" and will stroke hair and face.

-Responds to "come, come, come!"  "up, up, up!" (and will stand).  "no, no, nyet!"  Responds better to commands in 3s.

-Knows that plugs go in sockets.

-Doors that aren't closed will be closed by him.

  -Can tell that he is using his tongue to move food around now, side to side motion.
  -Feeds self finger foods but will pack food quickly.  Raisins are easiest for him to chew and swallow.
  -Chokes easily.
  -Uses sippy cup with soft spout.  Will now drink cold drinks like milk and very diluted juice.  Loves milk with ovaltine, preferably heated.
  -Rejects cheese if placed before him on his tray.  However, he will eat it if I feed it to him.
  -Oatmeal is still a huge trigger when it's gone.  Cries.
  -Gets upset when empty dishes are removed from table but will stop when I tell him "no".
  -Gets upset, sometimes, when he hears a dish scraped by a spoon or fork.
Slow dances with me and will take the lead.  Tries to sing if I don't start singing first.

Gives kisses to me willingly.  Sometimes he will pat my back as if he is giving me a hug.

Will place my hands under his arms to be lifted.

Learned to propel himself in the swing at OT.

Will slide independently on his tummy down a slide.

If you know that I have missed something, let me know!  LOL.

Oh!!  Little G has a Dora purse... Griffin picked it up and as he was walking, he tried to hold the strap by placing it between his chin and chest with no hands.  I finally showed him that it goes on his shoulder and then he was very happy.  SHHHH!  Don't tell Chris!  haha

Love and Hugs!!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Look

Yesterday was a fabulous day because I had good quality alone time with both of the little ones.  I dropped Little G off at Mother's Day Out at 9:00 and headed over to the BX with Griffin.  He is the easiest going little shopping buddy ever.  He just takes in scenery and is just as calm as can be.  I even forgot to bring Giraffe Meat but he didn't seem to mind!

As we are shopping, I'm constantly getting "the look".  I'm not exactly sure what "the look" actually means but I get it from just about every one that passes by.  It's a kind, pleasant, but almost sympathetic look.  Sometimes I will hear, "awww he's so cute!".  Sometimes I will get stopped and they will just randomly ask how old he is, maybe wanting to ask more but they don't know how to bring up the subject of Down syndrome.  Sometimes I feel that some of those people with the sympathetic smiles feel sorry for me, for us.  If they only knew, huh?  We chose him this way.  We wanted him this way.  He is perfect to us, just the way he is.  He is the bombdiggity.  He loves his little life and rules over it!  LOL.  Yep, I love him tons.

What cracks me up is when I'm sharing our adoption story with a random someone and they have this completely shocked look on their face like, "ummm, you do know that he has Down syndrome, right?"  Yeah, I get it, he doesn't have a lot of really strong facial characteristics of Ds, but they are there, they are noticeable, and I think he is crazy handsome because of those characteristics!  I think he is at his absolute cuteness when he does his expressions that brings out those Ds characteristics the most!  Like, for some reason, when he's laying down in the bathtub with only his little face out of the water... or when he signs "all done", or when he briefly sucks on his tongue.  UGH I love that little face!

Around 10:15, I decided to take Griffin to the food court to get his lunch started.  I knew that I needed at least an hour to feed him because he eats so slowly.  I needed to have him at his preK at 12:00.  So I got him a child's turkey sub and cookie and sat down at a table that was right along the walk way through the food court.  We got several "looks".  But one particular look made me stop and take notice.  A lady walked by us and I could feel her gaze before she even passed us by.  I looked up and she smiled but held total eye contact with ME.  Not Griffin.  There was a connection and I was struggling to figure out where I may know her from because it was that intense.  Then, her son popped forward in his stroller and looked directly at Griffin and said, "EAT!".  Her son has Down syndrome.  (okay, I'm tearing up now as I write this.)  What I really wanted to do was wave her down and ask her to join us.  There is a connection in the Ds world.  There are no strangers here.  The look that she gave me was, "They are awesome, aren't they?"  Yes.  They are.  Absolutely awesome.

We sat there for the next hour as he slowly ate his turkey sub, the grand finale being a diaper explosion, so I scooped him up and headed to the bathroom, right as the mother and son strolled back by.  She warmly waved, I waved back, and hopefully we will officially meet one day.

Due to the poop explosion, we barely made it to PreK on time.  Chris, thankfully, was able to pick Little G up for me and get her started on a Happy Meal until I could meet up with them.  He is such a great father and husband!

While waiting to drop Griffin off, a lady walked by in a reflective vest, so she works outside in some way, maybe as the crossing guard, and asked me if this is the new little guy that she has heard so much about.  Kind of caught me off guard!  She then assured me that the teacher would be out to pick him up right at 12.  By that time, an assistant teacher walked by and said, "OH!  Is this Griffin?!?!?"  Wow.  So it seems that my little guy has already made a name for himself in this school.  LOL.  The teacher came to the door and I was allowed to walk him to class.  I waved goodbye to him and away I went to get my Little G.

I met up with Chris in a parking lot where he had Little G sitting on his lap, feeding her a hamburger.  We traded off and he went back to work.  After she finished eating, I took Little G to a park on base and let her burn off some energy.  She really had a great time and I could tell that she was enjoying her mommy time.  The equipment was wet, though, so she was limited on what she could play on, which was a bummer.  I thought I was going to have a fight at the end, but she saw another kid with a juice box and I just so happened to have one in the van.  So I asked her if she wanted to go to the van and get her juice box and she said yes!  So we dodged a bullet on that one.

I was shocked when Little G didn't fall asleep on the way to get Griffin.  She must have been wired!  When we got to the door to pick Griffin up, she patted the stroller next to her to show the teacher where Griffin needed to sit.  His teacher went on and on about how great Griffin did and said that if she could have 6 months with him, that we would see a totally different child!  She took notice of his determination and curiosity and was extremely impressed with his abilities.  I pray that we can get extended here for the remainder of the school year.

By the time we made it out of the school parking lot, Griffin was asleep with Giraffe Meat.

Little G skipped a nap all together and was not a happy camper.

We had some great friends over for dinner, after the little ones were in bed, and they are almost done with their adoption process!  We had a wonderful time and I'm just so excited that they are on the homestretch of their adoption!  What great parents they are going to be!!!!

But anyway, have I ever mentioned how much I love being a mom?  It ain't always easy, but it's worth it.  So worth it! ;-)

Love and Hugs!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

We Are Terry Cloth Monkeys!

Chris's View-

School is back in session!

As many of those close to me know, I wasted the past 14 years.  Wasted you ask?  Yes, wasted, and I tell my troops this all the time.  Within the first year of being in the military, I had completed my first Associate's Degree.  In 2001, I received my second Associate's Degree, without having to do anything other than my job.  Neither of those degrees, as important as the Air Force makes a Community College of the Air Force degree out to be, really make a huge difference in the outside world.  To be honest, they are just check marks, requirements, boxes to fill in your rise through the enlisted ranks.  Without a CCAF degree, you cannot get past Master Sergeant, and it's a negative in the eyes of the Senior NCO board.  With that said, I wasted 14 years of my life, not pursuing my education like I should have.  As important as my mom made education in our young lives, I did not heed her words in my 20's or <gasp> early 30's!  I am looking back on that as probably one of the worst decisions I have EVER made in my life.

For the past two years, I have been busting my butt, maxing out all the money the Air Force would give me for tuition assistance, and making headway to my Bachelor's Degree in Political Science.  This should be complete by now, as well as Master's Degree... shoot, across the past 14 years, I should have found the time to obtain my PhD!  But here I am, still taking 300-400 level courses... well, at least until this semester.

See, my college recognized a negative trend.  Some of the upper level courses are specifics that rely on a foundation of a subject most learn in the 100 level courses.  In my case, Political Sociology needs a foundation of, duh... Sociology 111.  So, my college decided to force us to go take them with a prerequisite clause on some of these courses, which they should have done a long time ago.  Anyway, now I am taking Sociology 111.

As I was reading my text for the week, I ran across the following passage and just had to share.  It's a little lengthy, but well worth the read.  Even Maria, after listening to me read it to her, acknowledged how cool it is, and she usually tunes me out when I talk too long!  LOL!

Other than language, what else is required for a child to develop into what we consider a healthy, balanced, intelligent human being? We find part of the answer in an intriguing experiment from the 1930s. Back then, orphanages were common because parents were more likely than now to die before their children were grown. Children reared in  orphanages tended to have low IQs. “Common sense” (which we noted in Chapter 1 is unreliable) made it obvious that their low intelligence was because of poor brains (“They’re just born that way”). But two psychologists, H. M. Skeels and H. B. Dye (1939), began to suspect a social cause.  Skeels (1966) provides this account of a “good” orphanage in Iowa, one where he and Dye were consultants:

Until about six months, they were cared for in the infant nursery. The babies were kept in
standard hospital cribs that often had protective sheeting on the sides, thus effectively limiting visual stimulation; no toys or other objects were hung in the infants’ line of vision. Human interactions were limited to busy nurses who, with the speed born of practice and necessity, changed diapers or bedding, bathed and medicated the infants, and fed them efficiently with propped bottles.  Perhaps, thought Skeels and Dye, the problem was the absence of stimulating social interaction, not the children’s brains. To test their controversial idea, they selected thirteen infants who were so mentally slow that no one wanted to adopt them. They placed them in an institution for mentally retarded women. They assigned each infant, then about 19 months old, to a separate ward of women ranging in mental age from 5 to 12 and in chronological age from 18 to 50. The women were pleased with this. They enjoyed taking care of the infants’ physical needs—diapering, feeding, and so on. And they also loved to play with the children. They  cuddled them and showered them with attention. They even competed to see which ward would have “its baby” walking or talking first. In each ward, one woman became particularly attached to the child and figuratively adopted him or her:

As a consequence, an intense one-to-one adult–child relationship developed, which was
supplemented by the less intense but frequent interactions with the other adults in the environment. Each child had some one person with whom he [or she] was identified and who was particularly interested in him [or her] and his [or her] achievements. (Skeels 1966) The researchers left a control group of twelve infants at the orphanage. These infants received the usual care. They also had low IQs, but they were considered somewhat higher in intelligence than the thirteen in the experimental group. Two and a half years later, Skeels and Dye tested all the children’s intelligence. Their findings are startling: Those cared for by the women in the institution gained an average of 28 IQ points while those who remained in the orphanage lost 30 points.

What happened after these children were grown? Did these initial differences matter?
Twenty-one years later, Skeels and Dye did a follow-up study. The twelve in the control group, those who had remained in the orphanage, averaged less than a third grade education. Four still lived in state institutions, and the others held low-level jobs. Only two had married. The thirteen in the experimental group, those cared for by the institutionalized women, had an average education of twelve grades (about normal for that period). Five had completed one or more years of college. One had even gone to graduate school. Eleven had married. All thirteen were self-supporting or were homemakers (Skeels 1966). Apparently, “high intelligence” depends on early, close relations with other humans.
I don't care who you are, this is simple math... 1+0=x or 1 child + 0 emotional attachment = reduced chance of real life success.  1+1=2 or 1 child + 1 loving relationship (even from someone who has diminished mental capacities) = a drastically improved chance of real life success.  What a difference a parental figure makes, huh?

My textbook also relayed a story, and I'll spare the lengthy quote cause it was twice as long as the last one, about some scientists who were testing on monkeys... sorry, ya'll, don't shoot me, it wasn't me conducting the tests!  Anyway, the monkeys were provided two simulated parents in their cage.  One was made of wire, but it had a nipple from which the sweet, little baby monkeys could feed.  The other was made of terry cloth, but had no nipple.  You see where this is going, right?  The baby monkeys would feed from the wire mommy, duh, it had a nipple.  What shocked the scientists though is that when confronted with a mechanical bear or dog, the babies would jump to the terry cloth monkey, as they yearned for the warmth and caring touch of the terry cloth.

These stories hit so very close to home.  As Griffin becomes more and more reliant on me, Maria, and even Big & Little G to fill whatever voids he has in his life... to comfort his fears, for food, for play, for cuddles, for instructions, for mentorship... we have become terry cloth monkeys.  It makes me wonder who his terry cloth monkey was at the baby house.  He is now on his way, and we see it... walking, increased fine motor skills, and one day, speech... to that long, real successful life!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Griffin's First Heimlich Maneuver

<sigh>  Griffin almost choked to death today.  Talk about a frightening moment!  I am praising GOD right now that he is ok.  During snack time, I gave the little ones apple slices.  I chopped Griffin's up into bite sized pieces and gave it to him piece by piece.  I went to give him another bite and he was sitting there with a terrified look on his face and I noticed that he was struggling to breathe.  Only God Himself could have kept me as calm as I was.  I stood up, snatched the tray off of his highchair, got his bib off, unstrapped him, was able to keep saying over and over, "it's ok, it's ok..." and then performed the Heimlich on him.  On the 2nd attempt, the apple bite came out.  I quickly took him over to the changing table and sat him there, got face to face with him, and just apologized and told him that I was so sorry if I hurt his belly.  He started to cry.  Bless his heart, he was terrified and probably pretty sore from Mommy dislodging the apple.  We had to hug it out for awhile.  Within minutes he was fine and I let him finish a different kind of snack.  He didn't seem scared to eat.  Thank you, God, for guiding me!

On a lighter was the little ones speech appts at the hospital.  When we were in the parking lot, Little G kept saying, "ball!", over and over.  I actually looked around the ground to see if a ball had fallen out of some one's vehicle.  Nope.  As we were headed into the hospital, she yelled, "BALL!" and pointed to the sky.  There, just as clear as day, was the beautiful, white moon.  Precious!  I said, "oh!  I see the MOON!" and then she said, "see moon!"  She is really picking up on her speech.  So proud of her.

But anyway, I think I'm about to snuggle up on the couch with the hubs.  What a day.

Love and Hugs!

Monday, October 1, 2012

On Being Mr. Mom...

Chris's View-

I unshackled her ankle from the stove and gave Maria a kitchen pass today (calm down all of my "woman power" readers... it's just a figure of speech!).

A close friend invited Maria to a girls shopping day, and since I was off work for the day, I told Maria to go enjoy her an outpouring of estrogen & money from my wallet!  It's nice for her to get a break... she works hard taking care of our kiddos, running from one end of Germany to the other for appointments & ballet & school & church events & a myriad of other worthwhile things.  She hardly ever stops to take a moment for herself... well, except to stuff her face with chips & salsa or to watch Days of Our Lives! 

This left me with the kids today... 2 for the majority of the day & Big G after school.  Our day started with the littles having an Occupational Therapy appointment.  I let each child go in with the Occupational Therapist by themselves today.  I was really wanting to see if Maria & I are distractions to them while they are trying to get Occupational Therapized... no, I didn't make that up... it's in the wiktionary, so it must be legit!  Anyway, The therapist decided it'd be best for Little G to go first, since she was more anxious to get started.  So, I unbuckled the straps to the stroller & away she flew!  I heard what sounded like a belly flop on the padded mattresses in the room and several squeals of joy!  That felt good to know that she has a good time in there.  The sessions last right at an hour... well, except the Diva's today!  She got about 33 minutes in and I heard her go from laughing to screams in an instant.  I could hear the therapist try to comfort her, but within a minute the door was opening and out came my little girl with big fat tears rolling down her chubby little cheeks.  The therapist explained that she was fine, then she just sat down and melted down.  He said if she knew him more (they are only 3 sessions into this OT stuff), he would have ignored her & continued, but he didn't feel it was in her best interest to push her any further.  I agreed.

I unbuckled Griffin's seat & he lumbered into the room.  I knew he'd be fine, so Little G & I took off for the bakery that is in the same building as the doctor's office.  We got to the door and realized the place was packed!  Ugh... we had to turn & leave with the smell of freshly baked goodies smacking around our noses!  Man... there is nothing more torturous as a yeast roll uppercut or a giant pretzel right cross!  Top it all off with a fresh brewed coffee clothesline & we were down for the count!  The line was still out the door after the little's OT appointments, or we would have stopped in!  Anyway, we walked around the doctor's building and outside until it had been about an hour, then we headed back in to the office to get Griffin.  The therapist said he showed some "weird behavior" today.

He gave Griffin a rope to see what he'd do.  Griffin decided to surprise him and hung it over a rung on a ladder, then tried to hang it over a hook in the wall.  Both of these actions, according to the therapist, are far more advanced than what he has shown the capability of completing.  In fact, he said they are generally, really tough skills in the fine motor department.  He was really impressed.  I explained to the therapist that Griffin laid in a crib about 1/4 the size of the room that he uses as a therapy room, and he watched.  He's an excellent watcher.  That's why if he is handed an item that resembles a plug, he tries to put it into the wall.  If he is handed a cell phone, he puts it to his ear.  We didn't prompt him or teach him these things, these are things he picked up from his environment in the orphanage.  I remember seeing in the therapy room at the orphanage that they had a ladder on the wall that had a knotted rope that hung down the middle of it.  I guess this is some way that they'd help kids with climbing skills or whatever.  Anyway, this explains a possible reason behind him hanging the rope over the rung of a ladder, but not the hook part.  I can't recall anything in the rooms that was like this, though we did only see the inner sanctum of the Groupa a few times.  He also brought up that Griffin will get into repetitive motions & actions.  Today it was opening and closing a cabinet door.  We know he likes doors, and ultimately, he wants every door closed... except the door to the gate in the living room... neither of our kids like that door closed though!  He said to let him do that to appease himself, then block the door to break his focus on that task... we do this already.  We are becoming pros at redirection.

After the appointments we headed home.  Maria was kind enough to fix us PB&J's & the kids had fruit cups.  They scarfed it down and it was off to bed.  I took this time to fold a basket of the kids laundry and listen to some music.  I nearly missed getting the kids up because the clock on the TV was wrong... by nearly an hour!  I had to rush to get the kids up from naps & get to the bus stop to get Big G. 

After we got back, I had to knock out a "Honey Do" list item... I filled the tires on the jogging stroller with air.  They had just enough air in them to use the thing, and I have just been procrastinating on getting it done.  Maria reminded me about it the other day, so I guessed I needed to get it done so she wouldn't have the need to yell at me!  LOL!  No, she doesn't yell... she's a sweet heart!  We got in and I got the trio a snack... Big G got Zebra Cakes, and the littles were going to split a pack of peanut butter crackers.  Griffin was slow eating like he normally does, and Little G was speed eating like she normally does.  So, Little G finishes first... then starts whimpering, signing "more" and staring a hole in Griffin's cracker pack.  I give in and give her one of Griffin's crackers, I mean, I had plenty of time to get him another one as slow as he was eating today... literally like 500 chews per bite of food!  Painfully slow!  Anyway, she takes a bite & begins to melt down again.  I gave her a warning but she continues.  I take her out of her chair and put her into the living room.  She didn't want this either.  She begins to scream bloody murder!  Not good as I was getting a headache.  I had had enough.  I took her upstairs & put her into her crib with no chew tube or chew brush (or whatever we are calling that nubby, chew stick thingy).  She knew I was not happy!

By the time I got back down stairs, it was time to start prepping dinner.  I tried my hand at cooking Chicken Kiev tonight.  It is the loudest meal  I have ever cooked!  LOL!  I had to use a small sauce pan to pound the chicken breasts flat.  I'm sure the kids were wondering what I was building in the kitchen!  Haha!  Note to self... don't cook Chicken Kiev while you are nursing a headache!  Head is still sort of throbbing!  Anyway, about half way through the prep, I heard Little G babbling to herself on the intercom, so I went up and got her.  She seemed in a 100% better mood.  So, I put her in the living room and went back to fixing dinner.  Before I knew it, I walked in to the living room to find the basket of clothes I folded earlier, strewn all over the room!  UGH!  NOOOOOO!  Needless to say, Big G failed at babysitting because she was paying too much attention to the cartoon on TV.  The rest of the day became a TV Free Day.  I finally got dinner finished about the time Maria was walking in with all her shopping bags... I was wondering why I was feeling lighter today!  LOL!  She emptied the wallet!  We needed the stuff for family pictures though, so it was definitely justified purchases... and the stuff looks great too!  She has a great sense of style.

After dinner, I had to run to the grocery store... me, being the idiot I am... I did not get enough graham crackers for Big G's snack day tomorrow at school.  What a way to top off the day, huh?  On a side note, I did run into a buddy that I hadn't seen in quite some time.  In fact, I thought he was back in the states after his retirement, but he's still here... his wife has a job on base, so they are still around.  After catching up for a few minutes, I headed home.  I cleaned the kitchen while Maria refolded all the clothes, and now, it's off to bed.  I am exhausted.  I knew my wife worked hard with the kids, but it really does wear you out!  I will sleep good tonight, knowing that my wife is safely chained back to the stove!!!!!  What?  I kid, I kid!

See ya'll later!