Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Back to School

Today was Danielle's first day of kindergarten, so all three kids have officially started school. I was actually a bit worried when Danielle still wasn't home an hour after school had ended - apparently there was a problem of some sort and the bus didn't get to the school until almost an hour late. But, she made it home and wasn't upset about it, so all's well.
Noah has been doing great at his new school. I was actually thrilled the other day because he told me, out of the blue, that he had colored a frog at school that day. That may not sound like a big deal to most people, but this was the first time that he's actually been able to spontaneously tell me something that he did during the day (usually he would just tell me that he rode the bus every day!) Plus, today, he was able to recite most of the Brown Bear book ("Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see? I see a red bird looking at me.") and he actually got most of the colors right. Progress!

Jaden's first day of school was yesterday. It went well, but it was only two hours long and it was hard to get much out of him about the day (as is typical). Danielle was the opposite, though. She came home today, bubbling about her first day of school. First, and most exciting, they threw some of their "preschool words" out the window. She demonstrated for me how she said words like "potty" and "teacher" (instead of Mrs. Sajovec) into her hand and then threw them away. It was very cute! She also told me that they got to meet the principle and then showed me how she traced letters in a little workbook (she had to show me how she traced every single letter). I love that she actually tells me about her day. Such a refreshing change from her brothers. :-)

So, the school year is underway. Praying it all continues to go smoothly...

Thursday, April 30, 2009


So, Scott is starting a new job next week. It's a completely new role and he was with his current company for 10 years, so it's going to be a big change for him. It will probably be big for all of us, since we've gotten used to his current schedule and the fact that he's able to come home with little notice if we really need him. He'll have a bit more of a commute on some days now and he'll probably be working a lot of hours at first so that he can ramp up. Still, he won't have to work on Saturdays anymore and he won't be getting 2 AM emergency calls when a server is down. I think it's a good trade-off.

And, of course, it won't be long until the kids are out of school. That will be interesting. I've got to get them signed up for some summer activities or I just might go out of my mind with all three of them home all day! Noah will have summer school for one month of summer break. He has made some great progress since he started at his new school in October, but he's still at the level of a 2 or 3-year-old and more learning opportunities can only help.

Now that Noah's been home for over a year, we're facing the reality that he may not ever catch up to his peers. It's such a hard balance - I don't want to underestimate him and therefore undermine his chances at that quintessential "normal" life. But, I also want to be realistic and adjust my expectations accordingly - He may never go to the same school as Jaden and Danielle. He might not learn to read (right now, he can't identify his letters or even say his ABC's). He might be a lot more dependent on us than we had originally imagined. If he is going to participate in any activities, they will most likely need to be geared toward kids with special needs.

These are all things that I think about, wonder about. I imagine him as a 6-year-old, a 10-year-old, a 12-year-old. What will his life be like? We just don't know. If your child has Down's Syndrome, you have a frame of reference - you have some idea of what to expect. Noah looks "normal". He hasn't been diagnosed with anything but sensory processing disorder and now most likely ADHD. I don't know what to expect - I just know that he's not learning as quickly as a 4 and a half year-old should.

When it comes to his speech, sometimes people say, "Oh, but he's still learning English." But, I know that this isn't the case. I read the stories of the other moms of kids adopted from COTP - other kids who were adopted at about the same time or later - kids who are about the same age as Noah. They all talk about how their children speak perfect English (they were exposed to quite a bit of English in the orphanage). They quote their kids and I think "There's no way Noah could say something like that."

So, in my gut, I think I've come to the conclusion that Noah will never be an average kid. If I'm being very honest with myself, I knew it when I met him at just 1 year old. I knew then that something was different about him. That it wasn't deafness, but something else. I just couldn't put a name to it (I still can't) - I thought maybe autism - I didn't know, but I knew that it was something, even when his caretakers insisted that he was developing normally. Over the years, while we waited for Noah to come home and we got reports on him, they always seemed to be so normal. There was never any indication that he wasn't just like all the other kids. No one seemed worried about his development. I started to convince myself that maybe Noah wouldn't have any issues at all. Maybe he would be a completely average boy. And then he came home and he was delayed, not just a little, but a lot. I still told myself that he could catch up once he had the proper learning environment - the proper stimulation, but there was always a nagging feeling. Again, the feeling that something, that all elusive something, was off. And, here I am, a year later, wondering if my instincts were right all along. Wondering if, in those few days that I shared with my little 1-year-old boy, I could see something that the people who took care of him on a daily basis couldn't. They had too much else going on. A mother's instinct? I don't know.

What I do know is that God meant for Noah to be a part of our family. And that no matter what Noah may or may not accomplish in the future, he deserves love and security and the chance for the very best future possible for him. So, that's what I have to focus on. That's all I can give.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Warm Weather

The weather is finally starting to warm up and we're able to play outdoors again. Hip, hip, hooray! I really hated being cooped up all winter. Of course, we went out and played in the snow sometimes, but it's been cold and I'm really a wimp when it comes to the cold. Warm weather also means more pictures of the kids - outdoor shots are always the most fun. Jaden has just learned how to ride his bike (sans training wheels) and Noah also learned how to ride the little bike. Which means that Danielle got a new (well, pre-owned) bike of her own. Everybody wants to ride as often as possible. Today we rode to the park and enjoyed the warm day!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Year Home

Next Wednesday, we'll be celebrating Noah being home with us for one year. It's hard to believe. This year has been such a crazy rollercoaster ride. I'm not going to lie - some of the twists and turns have been painful. I haven't always been sure I was going to make it to the end in one piece either. Luckily, God has been my safety belt, and He won't ever fail.

So, here we are, one year later and I'm finally feeling a sense of peace. A sense that not only is this God's plan for us (which I've always felt), but that I'm up to the task at hand. We can do this, we really can!!

We're settling in. I honestly never thought it would take a year to be able to truly say that. But, sometimes life doesn't meet our expectations. It's taken time for Noah and I to let go - to give up the constant struggle for control that dominated his first months home. It's taken time for me to open my heart completely to my sweet, funny boy. And I think it's taken time for him to open his little heart to me - to seek love from his family rather than broadcasting out overwhelming, desperate pleas for affection that seemed to be aimed toward anyone at all. We're both starting to trust that this truly is right. And once we trust that, it can actually start to feel right.

Noah's developmental issues are still there. He's still dealing with the sensory issues, but we've been going to a great occupational therapist who is giving us lots of great tools to help him. For example, we've been doing a technique called brushing with him and this seems to help calm him. His speech is still significantly delayed, but we are making great progress thanks to speech therapy at school and through private therapy. We've been working on full sentences ("I want the ball please" instead of "Ball please"). Tonight, Scott and I rejoiced at the sound of Noah correctly pronouncing his name ("Noah" rather than "Woah"). Rejoiced!! You should have seen how proud he was. He was so happy with our reaction that he just kept saying, "Again!" and then he'd say it one more time for one more whoop of joy. Pronunciation is only one small aspect of his speech problems, but there's something special about him mastering his name. It seems like a true milestone. We're definitely making progress.

In the meantime, Jaden has been officially diagnosed with ADHD. We were really trying to avoid putting him on medication, but finally broke down in January and decided to do it for now. We have been on a special diet for the past 9 months that has really helped him a lot (absolutely no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives). I am now an absolute believer that the artificial junk in our foods is completely unhealthy. We changed our diet for Jaden, but it had unexpected results for us as well - I got a stomachache every night for years, but this completely went away when we took out the artificial ingredients from our diet. And Scott found that he gets many fewer headaches now. Unfortunately, while Jaden was doing really well at home, he was still having a lot of focus and behavioral issues at school that we just couldn't solve. The medication seems to be helping a lot, so we'll leave him on it for now and revisit some other options over the summer. Add a few more loops to that rollercoaster that I mentioned earlier. :-) But, really, I'm just so thankful for my sweet, creative, imaginative boy. ADHD or not, he has something special.

And then there's Danielle, who always gets the least amount of mention just because she's so, well, normal. Okay, she has her quirks (it took us over a month to convince her to take most of her Christmas presents out of their packaging), but in general, she's your average lovable 4-year-old girl. She just stopped sucking her thumb, which makes us incredibly proud. Apparently, she was just ready now, because nothing we did before ever got through to her, but this time she pretty much quit cold-turkey. See, miracles do still happen!

Kids are such a blessing. I just can't imagine my life without these three little faces, these three little personalities. And I know the roller coaster ride isn't over yet. I'm sure there will be another stomach-lurching drop around the corner. But for right now, I'm going to just enjoy this gently curving piece of track and be happy. And trust that God's controlling the ride.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Processing It All

I realize it has been way too long since I've updated the blog. Things have been crazy around here, though, and they're just starting to settle down a bit now. First of all, check out the cute pictures of the kiddos at Halloween! Aren't they the sweetest?! It was so warm for Halloween this year - it's the first time I can ever remember worrying that the kids might be too hot in their costumes (Noah's monkey suit was perfect for our normally frigid Halloweens - not so perfect for 70 degree weather).

Okay, on to the serious stuff. We recently had Noah evaluated through the school district. We weren't surprised to find out that he tested 1-2 years delayed in all areas, but we were surprised to find out why - He has Sensory Processing Disorder. Noah is what they call a "sensory seeker", which means that he is constantly seeking out more sensory input. This is why, for instance, he constantly needs to touch everything around him, puts things into his mouth, rolls crazily on the ground (after throwing himself down onto the floor), crashes into everyone and everything and likes to hang on people. He needs that extra sensory input because his body isn't processing the sensory signals properly. He also may have trouble with auditory processing, which may account for his speech delays. His other delays could also be caused by sensory issues or they might be "side effects" of the fact that he can't slow down long enough to process and learn new information the way other kids can.

The good thing about all of this is that, now that we know what Noah's issues are, we can start to help him. Last week, Noah was moved to a school with only 6 children in the classroom. He also started speech and occupational therapy. I've already read two books on SPD, so I've learned some ways that I can help him at home too (hopefully I'll learn even more from the occupational therapists). I was honestly starting to get very frustrated at the lack of progress that we had been making on basic life skills and concepts. Working with Noah was next to impossible for me because he has such a short attention span - we couldn't work on anything for more than 1 minute without it becoming a major hassle. Plus, I was at my wit's end because Noah often makes every day tasks very difficult. A trip to the grocery store can be painful. Playing a board game with the kids is hard to do because he can't follow along and play and he also can't curb his impulses to grab the pieces or overturn the board or just throw things around. I've had to ban him completely from Jaden and Danielle's rooms because within five minutes he will have scattered things everywhere and broken pieces. A couple of weeks ago, I went to pick Noah up from his MOPS group and the woman in his room greeted me with, "I need to give you a hug. Things must be so hard for you!" "Oh no!" I thought, "He was that bad?" That was one of those days that I didn't know whether to laugh or cry (unfortunately, cry wins out more often than I'd like to admit).

Well, it now feels like we're moving toward progress - or at least the possibility of progress. Steps in a positive direction - hope for change. And a little hope goes a long way... :-)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Urgent Need

I found this on a friend's blog and wanted to post as well. Scott and I just made a donation to this cause - please consider doing the same. The situation is Haiti is very desperate because of the recent hurricanes!

Northern and Central Haiti have been the hardest hit. The area around Noah's former orphanage has been damaged quite badly. Even in good weather, the road from Cap Haitien to the orphanage was very bad. Now it is under water. There is no way for things to get in or out of the orphanage right now. They are well supplied, but the surrounding area has seen a lot of devastation.

But there IS something that you all can do. In Cazale, Haiti is a wonderful center run by Lori Moise and Licia Bector. Real Hope For Haiti Rescue Center takes in and brings back to health many, many little ones as well as adults. Lori and Licia are amazing people, doing exactly what God called them to do. (The friend who originally posted about this knows them personally).

Cazale was hit very, very hard by both Gustav and Hanna. Cazale was destroyed. Many, many people are dead. The situation right now in Cazale is dire. The drinking water lines were unearthed and ripped apart by the raging mudslides and torrential rains. The only bridge in and out is not passable by vehicles. Food is scarce. Real Hope for Haiti is paying people to haul water from the river. They are then filtering it the best they can to make it drinkable.

On Lori's blog, about a third of the way down on the left, is a PayPal button. If you are able to give at all, earmark the funds to be dispersed to Licia to pay the people hauling water. They will also need money to start rebuilding. Most of the families around them have also lost everything. Gas is expected to rise for Haitians in the wake of the storms, so that will be another thing they will need money for.

Please click on the links below to see the devastation...
After Hurricane Hanna and before Hurricane Ike
John and Beth McHoul's Blog-Heartline Ministries Chris and Leslie Rolling, working with Clean Water for Haiti, also in an area that was heavily impacted by the hurricanes
Licia's blog-Real Hope for Haiti Rescue Center
Lori's blog-She's a nurse in Haiti working at the Rescue Center

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Those Last Days of Summer

Well, today is Jaden's first full day of school. It's hard to believe that he'll be gone the whole day!! I'm going to miss him! We've been packing a lot of things into the end of summer. First of all, we went to a COTP reunion in Minnesota. We had a really great time and were able to meet lots of other COTP families!! After the reunion, we stayed in Minnesota for a few days and went to the Mall of America (the picture is from the Lego store in the mall), went camping (in a cabin) and went to the Cave of Mysteries. It was a great break from "regular" life.

When we got back from camping, we had most of the interior of the house painted, which was long overdue. (We had done the powder room and the bedrooms ourselves, but we hadn't gotten to the rest of the house - and who knows when we ever would). It was a bit of a pain since the painters were here for two weeks (we had lots of wallpaper that had to be removed), but, wow, what a difference!! I'm so glad that I don't have to be embarrassed about our house anymore. It was getting pretty ridiculous - peeling wallpaper, marks on the walls from the previous owners' pictures, patches from repairs that had been repaired, and even holes in the walls in some places. Now it looks just beautiful - I'm so happy with the finished product! Now if we can just manage to keep things organized, it will be perfect (I'm not counting on it though). :-)

Finally, this past Friday, we got to spend the day downtown. One of Scott's vendors (at work) offered to pay for a family day for us, since Scott had been spending so much time away from the family, working on problems caused by one of their products. They gave us tickets for the circus, the ferris wheel and a boat tour. Plus, they gave us tons of spending money! It's amazing how much fun you can have when you don't have to worry at all about how much it's all costing. "You want a program for the circus? Why not? You want to drive the motorized boats? Sure thing. You want to go to the funhouse? Love to." We could pretty much do anything we wanted and didn't have to worry about the cost. How often can we do that? (Um, never). So, we've officially decided that we're going to seek corporate sponsorship for all of our family events. Hey, we'll wear logo T-shirts and hats and stuff - do a little advertising along the way. Think we'll get any takers? Okay, not gonna happen, but we can dream, right? :-)