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.