Thursday, October 23, 2014

Five

Earlier this month we celebrated our little man turning 5.  I still can't quite wrap my head around it.  I am certain I will always think of him as my baby boy.  But, sadly time can't stand still so we decided to embrace 5 and celebrate big.

Brooks woke up bright and early on his big day and we excited to see the birthday fairy arrived and decorated the house in balloons and streamers.


Sweet boy is very into nature and science right now.  All he asked for was a bug vacuum.  Big sis came through and he was mighty excited.  Other birthday hits were legos, a gem mining kit and an ant farm.
 

Poor guy came down with a high fever in the afternoon but, he mustered enough energy to blow out the candle on his requested cookie sandwich and give Nana and Poppie a huge greeting as they arrived that afternoon.  
 

Brooks requested a Pirate party and a bounce house for his birthday.  I had to search high and low for a Pirate bounce house.  This thing didn't disappoint.  It provided hours of fun, even Poppie joined in.
 


When Nana decided to retire this year she promised Brooks they would come for his birthday.  It was so fun having Nana and Poppie here to celebrate.  Brooks loved it and I sure loved all of the help!
 

The guests had to walk the plank before coming to the party.
 








Little pirate daddy attack
 

The sign of a happy Pirate.  Worn out at the end of his special day.
 


Brooks, we are so proud of you our big five year old.  You are kind, loving, smart and such an eager learner.  We love your imagination and how curious you are about nature.  Sometimes we say you live in "Brooks world" because your imagination runs 24 hrs a day.  I love this about you.  You have a great sense of humor and make people laugh all of the time.  You are sensitive and sometimes think that people are laughing at you rather than laughing because you are funny.  This makes me sad and I hope one day you will realize what a talent you have.  You are a great friend and meet new people easily.
You are a very competitive little boy and are very hard on yourself.  Sometimes you don't try things because you know they are hard and you don't want to make mistakes.  But, more often than not when you try you succeed and I love watching how proud you are when you take risks.  This year you played soccer with some of your best buddies and your daddy as a coach.  You were very scared at first and even cried during some games.  But, you persevered and guess what?  You were a star and we were so very proud.  It's been a joy to watch you build self confidence through basketball and now soccer. 
At your well visit we learned that you are above the 50th% for height and the 25th% for weight.  This doesn't surprise me because you don't like to eat much.  Well, except cheetos and all things junk as you would say.  You were very brave and didn't cry at all when you got a shot at your visit.  You felt so proud.

Brooks, we love you so much.  I hope you always stay my little snuggler.  I hope you always want to play "helicopter" as I throw you onto the bed and that you will never forget how we spend the majority of our days wrestling and having tickle fights since that is your favorite thing to do at age five.  I hope most of all that you always know you were created perfectly by God and that he loves you, your mommy and daddy love you and your sissies love you JUST THE WAY YOU ARE.  Never be afraid to be YOU!


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Little Trip


I'm a bit behind in posting this but, didn't want it to go unmentioned.

** I have purposefully not mentioned a lot about Olivia's microtia on the blog.  I aim to protect all of my children's privacy.  However, I recently assisted the No Hands But Ours  
team with a website revamp in hopes of assisting prospective adoptive parents with navigating the world of special needs.  I am quite certain that Olivia would be okay with me sharing her story if it helped to bring even one child home from China.

 

In mid September we had the opportunity to take Olivia to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.  Olivia is in an early Intervention program here in South Carolina which offers amazing services to families who have children with special needs.  She is followed by various specialists who see her at little to no cost to our family.

Our Early Interventionist mentioned that she felt we should take advantage of the craniofacial team at MUSC as we haven't felt that Olivia has received consistent care locally.  Olivia's diagnosis of microtia and atresia is fairly uncommon.  Locally, we have seen various specialists including, audiology, two ENTs, craniofacial surgeons, orthodontists and a speech therapist.  Each person seems to have their own idea of what type of care is best to deal with Olivia's unilateral hearing loss and corresponding needs. 

Over the past few months we have felt unsettled and wanted to make sure we were doing all we should be for Olivia.  So, when Sonita, our Early Interventionist mentioned a trip to MUSC we jumped on it.

Thankfully, due to Nana's new retirement status she was able to stay with the bigs and we took a little trip with Olivia.

Sweet girl was pretty happy in her car seat knowing she was having mommy and daddy time.  But, when we arrived at the hotel it was a different story.  Poor baby kept saying "Don't leave me".  The last time we were alone together in a hotel was in China.  Broke.My.Heart.


A dinner out and a special dollar to buy ice cream from the restaurant owner made our girl relax and cheer up.



She couldn't get enough of her daddy's crab soup.  Mommy wasn't sharing.

The next morning we woke up bright and early and headed to a full day of appointments.  Sweet thing was such a trooper as she went from 8:00 am to 2:00 with no break for lunch or nap. 

We had many questions answered.  First, audiology does not recommend a hearing device at this time.  Although she has profound conductive loss in her right ear her left ear is working perfectly.  In addition to this, she is scoring above age level, at the 3.5 year range on language and articulation (thank you Miss Christie).  We were told that a BAHA would only possibly help with her sound localization and gravitational insecurity.  As the therapist said, it's too expensive of a risk to take as the chance of it helping is minimal.
After the speech and audiology appointments, we headed to see an ENT who specializes in microtia and atresia.  He listened to Olivia talk and we expressed some concerns we have with her nasality.  He immediately sent her to his VPI clinic where she had another speech evaluation.  This time the airflow from her nose vs. mouth was measured and she had a test done where a tube was placed down her nose and throat.   The child was a dream.  The physicians were certain she was too young to participate in the study but, wanted to try because we had made such a long trip.  Olivia cooperated perfectly and never shed a tear.  I assure you I would have screamed if someone stuck a camera that far up my nose!!!!

 It was discovered that just as we imagined, Olivia has vasopharyngeal insufficiency.  This is related to her low tone on her microtia side.  Her palate is not contracting as it should.  We will begin intense specialized therapy in hopes of strengthening her palate.  In 9 months we will return to MUSC and determine if surgical correction is necessary.

We are so thankful for the team of experts at MUSC who helped us learn just a little bit more about how our daughter was "fearfully and wonderfully made".

Friday, September 26, 2014

Two Year Referralversary


















Two years ago we got "the call" or in our case the e-mail (seriously, what agency does this?) besides ours who at the time I didn't realize was seriously lacking in proper communication.

After a night without sleep and a morning full of tears, we finally saw our daughter's face.  

Today, I had to actually look back on the blog to make sure it had only been two years since we got that email.  It truly seems like forever that Olivia has been ours.

Olivia and I celebrated her special day with a trip to our favorite "Target" where mommy caved and bought her a bunny who drinks from a bottle.  (we applaud any form of nurturing here since that doesn't come naturally to our sweetie).  She may have also indulged in a blue slushie and popcorn before we met daddy for a noddle lunch (shhhhh.....)

I am not one to get overly emotional but, over lunch as Brad and I talked about how far out baby girl has come, the magnitude of our "yes" hit me hard.  That simple moment where we told our agency "yes" without a doubt she is our daughter changed her life and changed our life FOREVER.

What an example of how in one moment, in one decision lives can be impacted in great magnitude.

Olivia, at that moment became an adored daughter and loved sister.  At that moment her life filled with hope, future and freedom.  She now lives in a country with freedom to choose her path in life but most of all freedom to follow a  life filled with Christ.

Our lives are certainly changed for the better.  We have grown in patience, unconditional love, acceptance and most importantly faith in our God that he can do what seems impossible.  He will meet us in our deepest needs.

Adoption is beautiful.  Adoption is messy.  Adoption is tragic but, most importantly, adoption is redemption. 


We are not all called to adopt.  But we are all called to follow the paths that God is callling us down.  Each day we have the opportunity to say "yes" or to say "no" to his calling.
What will your answer be today?

"Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your path" Psalm 25:4
 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Back To School

Back to school started here two weeks ago and the final two went off today (although due to some technical difficulties much of this post is written a few weeks late).  Things are feeling very different around our house and I am missing the calmness of summer.


Mid August Kyrie started first grade.  As I mentioned here we had some growing pains related to all that came with the start of a new school year.  I am happy to report that we are on the third week and school is going great  Our sweetie comes home with a smile every day  She is however missing the baby dolls, art center and play time that went along with kindergarten.  She is not a fan of sitting at her desk or doing home work


Poor girl.  Looking back on these photos I realize how nervous she was.








Annual First Day of school silly string fight
 


A couple of weeks later it was time for the littles to start school.  It's hard to believe this is Brooks's last year of preschool.  Sweet guy has gone to a new school every year.  On the way to his first day he said, "Mom I really like the school I went to camp at (his new school).  Can I just stay there and not switch."  Yup.  A dose of mommy guilt to add to the already big emotions of the day.
I am pleased to say the decision to switch schools was the best we could have made.  He loves it as do we.







And last but not least our tiniest one started her very first year of preschool.  Boy, it's hard to imagine how far this sweet one has come.  She walked right into class, gave me a kiss and immediately started playing with friends.  The next day was a little harder but, by week three there were no tears shed at drop off.  In fact, when I go to pick her up I can hardly coax her away from all of the end of the day singing and dancing.  On days when she isn't so sure she recites, "Mommy always comes back" down the hall and into classOlivia is thriving and loves to come home and tell me all about school.  Her favorite thing is to talk about all of the antics caused by the little boys in her class.







Sunday, August 17, 2014

On The Eve of First Grade

Kyrie,

Tomorrow is the start of First Grade.  It seems like just yesterday you were headed to Kindergarten. Although sending you off tomorrow will come with a few less nerves for myself, letting go really never gets easier.







We've had a big week you and I.  If this is any indication of how the year will go, we have a lot of growing to do.  I promise we are in this together.  You, daddy and I we are a team.

This week you have struggled with and overcome some pretty big fears.  You have watched your closest friends get placed in classes together while you are going off on your own.  You have expressed to us your fears of making new friends, missing your old and adapting to new expectations. We have watched your wonderful school come to your aide as they have done all possible to ease your mind.  You loved your "private tour" of your classroom. 

We are so thankful that you came to us and expressed how you were feeling.  Please always trust us the way you have this week.  The couselor at school said she knows you are a leader because you are so thoughtful and sensitive  Yes, you are.  You are a thinker my dear.  This side of you is so endearing.  But, just like your mama all that thinking can sometimes stress us out. 

Rest assured.  This First Grade year is gonna be great.  Because God has planned it just for you.  He has mapped it out and as always we pray that you stay on the narrow path he is leading you on.

""For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future""  -Jeremiah 29:11

Friday, August 1, 2014

Portfolio

When I was three I broke my arm and my mom has the cutest pics of me posing on the beach with my cast.

Brooks broke his arm a couple of weeks ago and I asked if he would be willing to have me take a few photos of him with his cast.  Surprisingly, he was really excited and said he wanted to take pictures outside with his "friends" that live in his bed.  I quickly obliged as this boy HATES having his pictures taken.









Does he melt your heart?  Because he makes mine turn to mush.

Seven

How is it that seven years ago this precious girl was born?

Oh how true it is that time flies.  I feel like it was just yesterday that she was a tiny baby dressed in pink ready to head home from the hospital.

Kyrie, you have taught us so much as parents.  You have paved the way for you brother and sister and have allowed mommy and daddy to make all of our mistakes on you.  Sorry baby girl. You are a caring child, a loving friend and the most awesome big sister ever.  Your favorite things to do are arts and crafts, draw butterflies and flowers, write in your planner, school work (especially time and money), swim and shop (Oh do I love that you love to shop).  You love Jesus and love to teach your brother and sister about how much God loves them.  You love to eat most anything but, most of all mac and n cheese and ice cream.  You have a great spirit for life and I have yet to discover any activity that you try and don't like.  I love that about you.  


For her birthday this year Kyrie decided she wanted to have a special dinner out with Nana and Mommy and have a party at Build A Bear with her friends.




Sweetest girls.  They sang "Let It Go" all the way to the mall.  (Missing Ava here)


These two silly goofs were pretty excited to pick out their bear



Decision made...waiting to stuff
 



They all put a special heart in Kyrie's bear and then their own to remember her birthday.  Sweet touch.
 




Happy Seventh Birthday Sweet girl.  We love you soooooo MUCH!