Wednesday, 27 June 2012

{almost} Wordless Wednesday

falling out of the trampoline net opening and landing on his face 
a rough night

Purple painted nails, at his request?  
Didn't cheer him up as he thought it may.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Katie's Fifth Birthday

I have no idea why I can't rotate this!
Five years ago, this sweet baby was born.  I can only imagine how scary her birthday was for her very young parents, as she was born by emergency c-section.  And if that wasn't scary enough, her parents were then told sometime after her birth that she has Trisomy 21, or Down syndrome.  This diagnosis is difficult, at best, where my sweet girl was born.  Born to parents who were exceptionally young, this diagnosis I think made it impossible for them to keep their tiny little baby.  So that tiny thing stayed in the hospital for nearly three months.  Nobody came to visit her.  Literally, nobody.  She was a tiny baby all alone in the hospital.  She had no parents, and nobody who loved her.  Yet.

After the hospital, she was sent to a baby house.  She was still alone, and nobody came to visit her.  There was nobody who loved her to rock her and whisper to her in the night when she was sad.  There was nobody to snuggle her and rub her belly when it was upset.  There was nobody to kiss her boo-boos when she fell down.

She had four birthdays at the baby house.  I wonder if she even knew that the day was special?  That it was a day to celebrate her little life?  She had no balloons, no presents, and no birthday cake made special for her by her mama.  

She got bigger.  And, amazingly, against all odds, she developed a spunky, sassy, sweet personality.  She had nobody to call her own.  She had nothing that was her's only - no toys, no clothes, not anything.  She literally had herself.  How does a little child survive that?

This one did.  And not only did she survive, she thrived.  

And she will never spend another birthday alone.  

On her fifth birthday, this sweet girl has a family!  She had a special birthday dress, and a big birthday hair bow.  

This year, she got a cake fit for a princess.  A cake that her mama stayed up late to bake and got up early to decorate, especially for her.

She had lots of yummy food, most of which she had never tried before.

This year, she had a party with balloons and sugar cookies.

And this year, for the first time in her five years, she had birthday gifts - picked especially for her.

It didn't take her long to figure out what to do with those gifts!

This year, on her fifth birthday, she was not alone.  She was with people who love her and were so excited to celebrate her life.

This year, Katie got to spend her birthday swimming and playing.

Exactly how a five year old should spend her birthday.

She was not alone.  In fact, she was the opposite of alone.  This year there were people who were so excited to celebrate her day!

I hope Katie's first parents are not sad on her birthday.  I would guess they are sad that they don't have their girl, but by placing her for adoption, Katie's parents gave her the best gift ever.  They gave her a chance.  They gave her the opportunity for us to find her.  It took us a while, but we did it.  And she is perfect.  She is the part of our family we never knew was missing.  Her life is so different now than it would have been.  When she cries, she has someone to hug her and snuggle her.  When she accomplishes something, we are right there to celebrate it.  When she is tired, she has a papa who loves to snuggle her.  When she falls down, she has a mama to kiss her boo-boos.  When she can't do something, she has three brothers ready to swoop in and help her.  

She is surrounded by people who love her.

It was this sweet girl's birthday, but we are the ones who have gotten the gift.  I hope she knows how much she is loved, and wanted, and celebrated by her family on her birthday, and every day.  

Happy, happy birthday my Katie girl!

Friday, 22 June 2012

Five for Friday (Plus 3 More)

This post started as a Tuesday Twelve post . . . And now it's Friday.

1.  We went to the Bell Buckle RC Cola and Moon Pie Festival last weekend.  It was Katie's first fair - fairs are big in the south.  And the first parade she saw. . . it was a less than memorable parade.

2.  We all had to have our pictures taken in the RC Cola can and the Moon Pie.  Even Gigi and I got in on the photos.

3.  We got ice cream at David's "favorite ice cream place in the WORLD!" at about 9:15 in the morning.

4.  We came home and played outside with the sprinkler while Katie took a nap.  This is the best $6.00 I've spent all summer.

5.  Sunday we had some homemade popsicles.  They were a hit!

It looks like we have a mess of kids in this picture!
6.  Guess who needs glasses?

This crazy girl, who spent the majority of her time in the waiting room with this shape sorter on her head.  

7.  Have you heard about Ryan and his banana split party?  

Ryan has Down syndrome and a heart defect, much like Katie.  However, Ryan is 21 months old and his parents have signed a DNR because the doctor's have told them they cannot do anything else for his heart.  When people have asked what they can do to help the family, Ryan's parents have said nothing; nothing but make memories with your own children.  Ryan's mom said, "Just go put a banana split down in front of your kids for dinner and watch their faces light up. No chicken, rice and broccoli tonight, just ice cream. They're going to remember that forever."  

I like the way she thinks.  So tonight, we will make banana splits and memories for dinner.

8.  Favorite. Photo. Ever.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The Other 15 Days

I would estimate that 350 days out of the year, I almost forget that David is any different than any other 8 year old boy. And the other 15 days? I want to cry. Today was one of the 15. We were doing our summer speech program tonight, and one of his activities was to read a short book using his good speech sounds.  I had a Llama Llama book on my nightstand and grabbed it.  He told me that reading "Llama Llama Red Pajama" makes him feel like he wants to cry because the "boy" is scared at night and that is frightening to him. I asked him what else makes him feel like he wants to cry. He said, "When I go out for recess at school and I ask the kids in my class if I can play with them, and they all tell me no. Then I just sit by myself and wish I had someone to play with." 

That makes me want to cry too.  

Sunday, 17 June 2012

One Month Free!

Guess who has been free for one month?
This girl!

She is seriously like a different child.

This is the girl I picked up on May 16th.

And this is her, one month free.

I was so concerned with what I would find under her stiff blue jeans and itchy orange sweatshirt.  I was terrified she would have scabies, or some fungus, or much worse - scars from being mistreated.  She had none of that.  She had a tiny little heat rash and a skinny little body.   But the best thing I found under all of those layers?  Her huge personality, waiting to happen.

Katie is so excited about life - everything is new to her, and she is soaking it all up.  She wants to see everything, touch everything, and explore everything she encounters.  It is amazing to watch her see things for the first time, like dogs, and riding in a wagon, and popsicles, and splashing in a baby pool, and swinging at the park, putting clothes in the washing machine, eating a hot dog, going to a baseball game, watching a parade, jumping on the trampoline, having her toenails painted, or going to the zoo.  Everything is new for her.

This was her the day I picked her up.

This is her today.  

She's still tiny - about the size of a small three year old.  However, she's grown half an inch, gained three pounds, and grown half of a shoe size.  In A MONTH.

She's signing 15ish words independently and appropriately, mimicking our speech sounds, saying baby, bird, Bert, bubble, boy, bye, me, mine, and no.  If you say, "Who is Katie?" she will proudly point to herself and say, "ME!"

She's becoming very independent, doing things like this when she wants to reach things.

We are so incredibly lucky to have this little lady in our family!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Wordy Wednesday

Guess who is really trying to talk?

This girl!

She has always babbled a lot and made a lot of noise, but when she came home the only "word" she could say was "da", which is yes in Russian.  She has, from day one nearly, understood everything we say to her.  And can someone explain that to me please?  Nobody at her institution spoke a word of English, but she joins our family and instantly understands it?  Literally, the first English she likely heard in. her. life. was when Chris and I visited her.....but now she understands everything we say to her?!  She's signing a ton - more, eat, drink, bath, brush teeth, out, all done, drink, up, down, play, dance, poop, and I'm sure more that I'm forgetting.  She's also saying words (when prompted) that start with "b".  And for prompting, all we need to do is say the word, then touch our lower lip and she will say it too.  She's SO smart!

And, in other news, do you know what this picture means?

It means girlfriend got the boot to her big girl room last night.  And she didn't make a peep!  

Monday, 11 June 2012

Baseball and Birthdays

OK Chris put Katie to bed tonight so I wouldn't fall asleep at the same time as my children....although, I have to admit, the amount of sleep I've been getting has been fantastic!  Not great for my productivity, but wonderful for getting some rest!

Tuesday was my birthday.  I turned 29 35.  If someone had told me 15 years ago that, when I turned 35, I would live in a big, old blue house full of sticky fingerprints, two dogs, four children, one bathroom, and that I would drive a minivan (which is the NICE car we have!) I would have probably passed out.  Tuesday, turning 35, I probably felt the best about my life as I ever have.  I have an amazing family, both living in my house and those who are part of our extended family.  

My husband is seriously the most incredible dad.  He stays home with f.o.u.r. children - one who never stops talking, has a tic disorder, and needs to be brushed but is the resident expert on, oh, pretty much everything, one who is the sweetest thing ever, until you make him angry, and then he's like a mad tornado, one with Down syndrome who doesn't speak English and can't be left alone for a second because she will destroy everything in her path with her unbridled excitement, and one who is constantly talking about his "work buddies at Tractor Supply", but really is four years old and can't work.  

My children are amazing.  They are all so happy, all the time.  And I know this sounds like bragging, but I don't care - I think happy children are the product of good parenting.  If Chris and I were angry all the time and yelling all the time (and please do not think there is never any yelling), our children would not be happy.  We have a fun house - we laugh every day.  We play every day.  We sing and dance and hug and kiss and say "I love you" every day.  They are smart, and kind, and thoughtful.  They are the best gift I could have ever received.

Henry and David had a playoff game this weekend, which our team lost.  We were so sad!  It was our only loss, and the last game of the season.  They still won the division for their age group, and we had a fantastic team this year.  This coach was such a great fit for David, and really made him enjoy baseball more.  

And then, after the last game, David said, "I'll take next year off from baseball.  My next sport will be the swim team!"

This crazy pile of wood is getting turned into something GREAT!  I can't wait to show you!

We went to Gigi and Grampy's house to celebrate Grampy's 60th birthday yesterday.

I will cry when Jack doesn't have baby hands anymore.

Nobody at the orphanage told me this child was a crazy woman.

She's really coming out of her shell....if she was ever in one.

She is seriously this excited about everything.

The world is completely new to her, and we have a front row seat to her excitement.

And it's contagious.  The boys are the happiest I really think I have ever seen them.

It's incredible what this tiny little person has done in three short weeks.

The boys were all snuggled up watching something on a phone or other electronic device.  I hope they snuggle like this forever!

I am so excited for my daddy to turn 60.  We are so lucky he lives here, and that he is in great health and loves to play with my boys.  Most of the time.  When they're not acting like wild animals.

This little joker is going to be just. like. Grampy. when he grows up.  I suspect he's just like Grampy was as a child.  Which makes me nervous.

That look of excitement is because she just shoved her hand, and her FOOT, in the cake and was licking off the icing.  Yes, her foot.  

We had a perfect day celebrating our birthdays.

And this photo wins for my favorite picture ever.  
Look at those happy faces!